Just Walk Out

It’s going to take me a while to get use to shopping in a store where I don’t have to check out. You better get used to it too, because Amazon is going to change the way retail is conducted today.

All the media is talking about the new convenience store Amazon opened today in Seattle. Called Amazon Go, there are no checkout lines and no cashiers. It’s all explained in the quick video I posted above.

It’s so ironic that the online company that helped put so many book stores out of business, and is now doing the same thing to other kinds of retail outlets, is now luring customers back to bricks-and-mortar.

Amazon Go is a cashier-less and, checkout-line-free store so people can shop in record-breaking time. All customers have to do is scan the Amazon Go app when they walk in, and then take what they want, and leave. Amazon does the rest. Every move you make is recorded. Eventually Amazon is going to know more about you than anyone else.

Watch the video to see how Amazon has perfected the entire automated process. You can take something off the shelf and then change your mind. Amazon is adding and subtracting from your bill every second of the way. It’s miraculous.

Recode, the tech site, did a marvelous job covering this story. Photos from Recode.

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Photos by Jason Del Rey

The Fountainhead Experience Art Walk

Eliot and I belong to the Fountainhead Residency and Studios in Miami because the non-profit has a multitude of programs for emerging artists and collectors. We are contemporary art enthusiasts. We do not pretend to be knowledgeable or serious art collectors. We have spent a lot of money on art because we fell in love with the passion and determination of certain artists and what they created. Many of our purchases were made at the Williams McCall Gallery, the only fine arts gallery South Of Fifth, South Beach.

It’s amazing. We have no regrets. We love every piece we have bought over the years, even the ones we have on loan to many of our friends because we just do not have enough space in our apartment.

We are always on the hunt, even though we promised each other many times that we spent enough in our lifetime. Yesterday was proof that art is for love and investing. Fountainhead co-founder (2008) Kathryn Mikesell took a group of us on an art walk of three galleries on South Beach.

We were introduced to several pieces of art that sold for $500 a few years ago and now go for $20,000 plus. That certainly caught the attention of everyone in the group. A number of the art works we saw yesterday featured computer disks, paint swatches, photo negatives and pennies. Eliot went head over for heels for the pen and ink on woven paper by Ben Sack. The detail and the imagination used in his drawing just has to be seen in person. Visit the Robert Fontaine Gallery.

We heard a wild story about Ben Sack. He spends most of the year cruising around the world taking in the sights and learning the history of each city he visits. That helps him achieve the details in each drawing. I also remember something about Ben being blind in one eye. That seems impossible, doesn’t it?

We also had the pleasure of visiting David Castillo and Conde Contemporary galleries. The penny piece below is from Conde Contemporary. The gallery owner, Stacy Conde, is pictured below with Kathryn.

Fountainhead is a Miami treasure. Kathryn and Dan Mikesell have been bringing artists from around the world to live and work in Miami for up to two months each. That means 30 to 40 artists a year, and a total so far of over 300 artists from 36 counties. They also host open houses several times a year, and are presently establishing other art experiences.

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Rent A Lux Room By The Minute

Image: landlopers

This is going to sound crazy to you, but there is a new trend in the hospitality industry that all seniors should know about. A growing number of luxury hotels around the world are renting guest rooms by the minute. All you need is an app and a credit card.

Of course, you are thinking what I did when I first heard about this new concept. Fancy hotels must be officially opening their doors for romantic reasons. That may be the case, but the fancy participating hotels say otherwise. They get plenty of legitimate requests from clients who need rooms for a few hours. Some have three to five hour travel layovers, others need rooms to rest between shopping sprees, business appointments, and sightseeing trips.

This must be serious business. Some of the hotels involved are the Surrey and the Pierre in New York City and the Taj Campton Palace in San Francisco. Rising operating costs are also another reason hotels are anxious to rent out empty rooms.

The major companies with apps in this business are: hotelsbyday.com, dayuse.com, and recharge.com. Prices vary all over the place. The New York Times did a big story on this topic that is worth reading. I was very interested in this story because two years ago I was desperate for a room at CES in Las Vegas. I checked out of my room early on the third day of the show. My flight home was a red eye later that night. By noon, I was feeling ill. I needed to lay down. There was no place to go. I ended up getting a massage in a fancy spa. I slept through it, but I felt much better after.

I would have paid a pro-rated amount for a good nap in the hotel I had checked out of, but those options weren’t available then. I think I like the new short-term arrangement.

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The Most Downloaded App Last Saturday

Buzz, buzz, buzz. The social media world is buzzing about the Google Arts & Culture App. It’s available on both iOS and Android.

The Google Arts & Culture App has a new feature that attracted a record-breaking number of folks last Saturday. It actually does something exceptional that has never been done before, according to Appannie, a metrics site.

The arts app actually compares a user’s selfie with a doppelganger from the company’s catalog of historical artworks.

It is pretty amazing.

The Google Arts & Culture App uses “a computer-vision tech to examine what is similar about your face to the thousands of pieces of art that are shared with Google by museums and other institutions.”

You are going to have a lot of fun finding your double. See my comparisons above.

Google thinks Felicia Day and Pete Wentz look like:

You May Never Fold Laundry Again

Life is full of surprises. Whoever thought that one day there would be a machine that folds your laundry?

It’s not available now, but it will be in in the latter part of 2019. There are a number of companies working on it. The one that got some serious attention at CES is FoldiMate. The company claims that a load of laundry can be folded in four minutes.

I never realized that so many people hated folding laundry. FoldiMate reported that they received 8,000 pre-orders for a $850 machine.

If you are one of those who pre-ordered a unit, you should be forewarned that FoldiMate can’t fold all items. Forget baby clothes, socks and undergarments. Maybe that will change a year from now.

For more in-depth coverage, read the story The Verge did on FoldiMate. They also have some cool videos.

Don’t Be Fooled By A Fake Viagra Pill

There was a lot of chatter this week about the lack of innovative products at CES. Many members of the press were in a rush to write how disappointed they were. I had similar thoughts, but I have been walking the aisles of CES for 51 years. Maybe, just maybe, very little can impress me. I think the same thing is true for many tech writers who just can’t be wowed that easily anymore.

We also may be in a transitional year. There are years of innovation, and then there are years of getting the work done for the next series of surprises. Whatever the case may be, there were many clever products that I want to show you over the next few days.

Today, I want to introduce you to an expensive gizmo that will tell you whether that viagra pill is the real deal. Maybe you won’t consider the Linksquare Spectrometer expensive considering the job you are asking it to do. The Linksquare Spectrometer will also tell you if your fish or poultry is still fresh, name the brand of liquor in a bottle, and if the money in your pocket is real, or counterfeit.

My friend, Steve Greenberg, the Today Show Innovation Insider, just did a demonstration of the Linksquare Spectrometer for a dozen TV stations around the country. He said it is very easy to use, so click here to watch his presentation. Other innovative products are included in his segment.

The Linksquare Spectrometer is $299.

Back To The Future

I keep going back to CES every year because there is no place on earth where you can see so many innovative products. It gets so overwhelming that you just have to devote quiet time to think about each and every item you encountered.

CES throws a big party for the press two nights before the show opens. It’s called “Unveiled’ because this is the place where new products are unveiled and launched.

The big thrill tonight was seeing Robbie Cabral at Unveiled. Robbie was one of the inventors on a recent episode of Shark Tank. He accepted a $200,000 investment for 15 percent equity of his company from Kevin O’Leary. Robbie invented a lock that you can open with a fingerprint. The company is Benjilock.

More tomorrow.

Robbie (with the hat) and two pals of mine to the right, Robert Heiblim and David Kaplan.

I will present the information on this company in a few days.

Bathroom Virtual Assistants

Many of you will not be going to the bathroom alone anymore. Kohler, the plumbing fixture company, thinks the American public wants to ask virtual assistants to fill up bathtubs, flush toilets, and get showers ready.

I have no idea if this is what you desire, but Kohler Konnect is showing up at CES next week as a cloud service company that can provide the technology for syncing different bathroom gadgets.

The first product we are going to see is a Kohler bathroom mirror that includes speakers and a built-in version of Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant. The mirror can interact with other fixtures.

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People can dictate their wishes to a virtual assistant or a mobile app that the company plans to create very soon.

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Judge Philip Bloom Died Thursday Morning

I was so fortunate to meet Judge Philip Bloom when Eliot and I decided to make Miami Beach our second home. I sat next to him at a Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce meeting. He was married to former Florida state Rep. Elaine Bloom. The four of us became good friends. We also became friends with their adult children, Anne and David, and their families.

Philip and Elaine were like royalty in Miami. Everyone knew and loved them. Elaine is presently CEO of Plaza Health Network, a nonprofit founded in 1954 that is the largest nursing home network in Miami-Dade County. You can read about her here.

Judge Bloom was known for his humor and humanity in the courtroom. He was 87. Miami will never be the same without him. Here is his obit.

RIP Philip

For $10 A Month, You Can See A Movie Everyday

My brother has been telling me about MoviePass for months now, but I had other things on my mind. I couldn’t ignore this amazing offer any longer. It’s all over the press.

You can read all about it in Business Insider. They did a great job describing “Everything you ever wanted to know about MoviePass.”

MoviePass has been around since 2011. Where have I been? Eliot did you know about this service? He may be reading about this service here for the first time. More and more folks are paying attention to MoviePass because it just became more affordable. It used to be $50 a month. Now at $9.95 a month, it’s becoming super popular.

When people first hear about MoviePass, they can’t believe it. It’s truly a subscription service. Once you sign up at MoviePass.com, you get a debit card which has the full cost of the ticket. It seems to be too good to be true.

If you download the MoviePass app, you can see all of the participating theaters. Word has it that more than 90 per cent of the theaters in your neighborhood will be on the list. Have fun!

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A Bike Ride To CES

I recently heard about a PR stunt that I thought was pretty clever. I’m always looking for creative ways to introduce new products, so when I heard that a cyclist was biking across the United States to CES to demonstrate the durability of an electric bicycle wheel, I was very impressed.

The Electron Wheel, featuring a motor, intuitive sensors, a battery, and Google Assistant, is being showcased at CES. The big attraction is that the Electron Wheel is easily installed on the front of any bike.

The trip to CES started out two days ago on December 31st from Union Square in Manhattan to Las Vegas. The biker will ride for 17 hours each day, for 10 days. The wheel itself is geared for 50 miles on a charge. He should arrive on the second day of the show.

The Electron’s Gen 2 Wheel will sell for $799 at Best Buy next month. Installation is said to take less than a minute, snapping the wheel onto the front spokes. Then the sensor is secured to one of the pedals with a Velcro strap. The Electron Wheel’s incline sensor assists you when you’re going up a hill.

I’m sure many reporters will be standing by at CES to see if the cyclist shows up on the second day and to check the condition of the wheel. I will be one of them.