The EDGECELSIOR Show: Stories and Strategies for Scaling Edge Compute

Unlocking Design and Innovation Secrets with Tech Titan Ray Riley: From Edge Compute to Autonomous Robots

October 31, 2023 Pete Bernard Season 1 Episode 8
The EDGECELSIOR Show: Stories and Strategies for Scaling Edge Compute
Unlocking Design and Innovation Secrets with Tech Titan Ray Riley: From Edge Compute to Autonomous Robots
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Get ready to unlock the secrets of design, innovation, and strategy with Ray Riley, a titan in the tech world. From Apple, Nike, Microsoft, and Amazon, Ray has been at the frontline of cutting edge design and ground-breaking tech. Join us for an intimate conversation with this industry giant, as he pulls back the curtain on his journey, sharing invaluable insights on team motivation, competitive strategy, and the evolution of tech giants.

As we navigate the complexities of edge compute spaces and their seamless integration, Ray brings his unique perspective on the role of humans in the data flow and the future of autonomous charging robots. We also touch upon the emerging trend of security robots, roaming and hunting for potential threats. From the cars of tomorrow being incredibly intelligent to envisioning the future of consumer robots, Ray's insights are sure to leave you contemplating.

Finally, we delve into the intersection of design and go-to-market strategies. Ray and Pete use the Microsoft KIN (Project Pink) project as a case study, underlining the significance of this innovative cloud-to-edge "digital twin" phone solution that was way ahead of its time. We also explore the untapped potential of underserved edge compute markets, and how design can revolutionize them. It's a conversation filled with insights, experiences, and a peek into the future of tech. Don't miss out!

Want to scale your edge compute business and learn more? Subscribe here and visit us at https://edgecelsior.com.

Pete Bernard:

So first of all, let me introduce Ray Riley for joining the show today. I'm going to let him give you a little background, but Ray and I worked together pulled disclosure in Microsoft many years ago on what some would argue would be one of the most infamous and amazing projects of all time, but we'll talk about that later. Ray, why don't you give us a little context on Ray Riley's?

Ray Riley:

story You don't want to start there, do you?

Pete Bernard:

I don't want to start there.

Ray Riley:

We'll get there, but I don't want to, so I've been a design leader for four companies for most of my life. I'll go in transcending order Amazon, microsoft, nike and Apple And you know like. First in Apple as an industrial designer and then program manager. Then at Nike I started the watch and sunglasses businesses and R&D director for both businesses. Then I grew the sort of the tech lab business at Nike all the gear in between you know, like you know MP3,. Yada, yada, you know for one moment in time, we were the number one MP3 player before Apple released the iPad.

Pete Bernard:

Wow, how about that, yeah, and then moved on.

Ray Riley:

I helped orchestrate but did not lead the Nike Plus venture. I helped hire the right people in. Michael Chow was a guy I worked with at Apple and I just said I just said opened the door for him to come in and then he opened up the door for Nike, the Nike Plus program, the partnership with Nike and Apple, and you know I feel like I have skin in the game. but I didn't do all that work. And then I went on to lead a group called the Explorer Group at Nike And we do all kinds of cool stuff. I couldn't even begin to tell you. that's like a whole podcast in itself. It's probably one of the coolest jobs I ever had, you know, basically working with the then president of Nike, mark Parker, like hey, where else could we take Nike?

Pete Bernard:

What other ventures could we go do?

Ray Riley:

But I will say that that was probably one of those things where you're shooting beyond what anyone could ever digest at Nike, except for a few people, and we only pulled off a few things. But you know, it's like how do you fail? Fail fast, fail long, but go big. And we went so big We almost pulled off a Formula One deal where we would have had the whole Formula One. You know partnership, blah, blah, blah. And then Microsoft with you I even just pulled out of my drawer one of my cleaner Microsoft shirts. That goes way back. You know the old Xbox well the previous Xbox since I left in 17,. I don't have any newer t-shirts. They probably killed all the t-shirt budgets anyway You know, yeah, not a lot of t-shirt budget left.

Pete Bernard:

No more t-shirt budgets.

Ray Riley:

It's such a shame You know it's like the cheapest thing you can ever do to actually rally your troops, you know, and yet well, yeah, the swag 100 bucks for t-shirts Yeah.

Pete Bernard:

I used to have a whole closet of just Microsoft gear. Yeah, That was like I kept it separate from my regular clothes, but I could go in there and I could dress all week.

Ray Riley:

And you know, like if you talk about team motivation, like one of the dumbest, most important things is give me a t-shirt once in a while. I can make me feel like part of the client, anyhow. And then, just to get this done, and then I went on, after many things at Microsoft which I guess we're going to talk about, i got sucked into a robot venture at Amazon and I actually worked on a robot project at Microsoft and no one ever talks about, which teed me up to be the head of design for this robot venture called Astro by Amazon.

Pete Bernard:

And it's the little, so let's go out there.

Ray Riley:

It hasn't hit it big time. It's a classic case study in really smart engineering kind of people thinking the robots are important for humans in their homes And then they hire a dude like me to go what are we going to do with it? And that's called an interaction invention. And it's a classic case study in like why did you guys develop the robot before you figured out what it should do? But we did our best and we came up with some really cool ideas. I built a team down in the Bay Area to do it. We built this team in rapid time and we had to compete against people like Facebook that pays twice as much as anybody else in the industry and Google, and yet we still hired some pros to work at Amazon and develop this. And I got it up and running. We did well with getting it set up and then I just decided it was time to move on and moved on. And then COVID kicked in like a month afterwards.

Pete Bernard:

And since then.

Ray Riley:

I've been working on my own. I have a consulting business that I run when I need to, where I pull people in when it's time and it's appropriate. Last year we had a big project with Palatine, and then I work on a few startups that I'm working with right now, and I have a couple of my own ventures.

Pete Bernard:

I don't know if that's too long or not, but anyway go ahead. No, that's good. Where did you grow up? Are you a West Coast or are you a East Coast child? I'm a South Coast child.

Ray Riley:

I'm a South Coast child. I'm a South Coast child. I'm a South Coast child. I'm a South Coast child.

Pete Bernard:

I'm a South.

Ray Riley:

Coast child. I'm a South Coast child, i'm a North New Jersey person, so feeling for me was always kind of equal. It's kind of equal brotherhood. Like talk many bad things and try to not do them.

Pete Bernard:

Exactly, hey. So one of the interesting things I think maybe we can talk about is kind of the creative process, the engineering process, the product process. I think there's been a lot of, especially, i would say, in the edge space, edge computing space, which is what this podcast is ostensibly about. It's a lot about what's the product and how do the products work together. It's never one product that solves a problem for a customer, at least in the kind of commercial space. Right, i think in the consumer space you're sort of a series of products, but in the commercial space usually it's a bunch of stuff that needs to get hooked up. We had Michael Cuppson recently. He was talking about a condiment machine that it was like build your own condiments from Heinz and it had all these things. I guess people want to do that, but it was like 15 different companies had to come together and kind of make stuff work end to end In the industry between הג. In the product process there's this kind of secret sauce around creativity And and you know, and how do you see sort of the creative process in the engineering process sort of fusing together, or what's been some of your experience on that? What's?

Ray Riley:

a great question. You know it's question of which case study. Do we peel back the layers of the onion, i guess. But I like that idea of what you just threw out like. So you got a vending machine that can give you Layers, potato chips and, you know, like the best of Any flavor i want japanese. I want a japanese vending experience because i never get to experience that in an airport in the us. You know like let's make it really fucking complicated, like like cool jack cool japanese food that you can't get in the us. and suddenly You know, pepsico decides what we're gonna import all this japanese clutch, get food. and we gotta create a, an experience model, right. first thing, you would look at yourself and goes right, like what human being is gonna understand that the vending machine is gonna, like give you what do you want? like this there? is there an activation from my phone for that? when i walk up, or do i just speak to the machine, or do i have to push buttons And put my credit card in and pay for it? and how do i pay for it with this contraption or this contraption or whatever you want start to run through that front end right experience model of a discovery.

Pete Bernard:

What's the?

Ray Riley:

what's the broad experience model gonna?

Pete Bernard:

what is it?

Ray Riley:

In a macro view, like what is it you really want people to do? to experience and to accomplish. I want to get cool products from the machine Because they're stuck in a machine and i want to get into a certain time and i want to get it to be what i want and i want to learn about what's in there and, without having to like, walk up to a machine, figure out the goofy interaction model and then have it not work because i'm pushing the stupid buttons in the credit card isn't going through like.

Pete Bernard:

Right right machine now out there on planet earth, right, except in japan, where they figured it out, or china, or you pick Asia, not the right, yes, so it's like you say you're talking about, like the putting yourself kind of in the user always, how do they discover what is the way you and how do the That's what we do.

Ray Riley:

If we don't do that, we're not good. What we do like who gives a shit about the technology? question is Is this gonna be a rewarding experience for a human being? are they gonna actually like, wow, that was cool. What was the stupidest thing i ever experienced? next, another dumb technical. This could be cool. Right, let's let the user go through eight steps of stupid before they don't. They got whatever right, you know.

Pete Bernard:

Yeah, walk away i don't know if i was a right case study. Yeah so No, but i think that kind of make sense. So you be. The first step is like who are you? who's using this thing? who's your, who are your users? i guess in the commercial space You have multiple users right, depending on the operator and the end consumer, your enterprise model like.

Ray Riley:

But then i guess i got to get the edge. You know it's funny. I don't think too many of us in the design leadership world are immersed in thinking through the edge paradigm. I mean, maybe i'm wrong. You know i've drifted out of corporate design over the last few years and more into startups to do really specific things. Right, but That's an interesting conversation. I'm not sure where would go, but it's sort of like operators you know yeah back in user experience is just as important, obviously, is the front end user experience, whatever that would be.

Pete Bernard:

Yeah, no, i agree with you on that. i think You know the edge computing is kind of a newer paradigm or a newer term. i mean we we've had cloud computing, we've had iot and you know edge computing is really like how do you combine cloud edge Systems and workloads together to get something done, usually in the commercial space, and that requires, i think, a lot of thinking. you said there's different roles That are part of that experience. right there on the operator side, on the on the kind of consumption side, there isn't as much design Discipline, i think in the edge compute space probably i was kind of thinking, i mean i'm just i haven't thought about this until we're talking right now, but What's a great case study from your point of view, where design actually added value in that wild enterprise?

Ray Riley:

complex, multiple players, you know, bunch of really What's the right word left brain genius, people that really don't give a shit about fluff, and you know yeah what's been successful you know, right, right, right.

Pete Bernard:

I think that one of the examples that i see a lot for edge computing is a lot of kind of critical infrastructure, like kind of smart city infrastructure, and in that case you're building something pretty complicated, right, it's like some, some cameras in a town square. That's measuring, you know, kind of You know statistics about traffic flow and pedestrian flow, and then that's all being aggregated in the back end and they're using that for, maybe, adjusting the street lights and other things. But in that case someone's building this thing, it's very complicated, but someone else totally different is using it and it's a civil service employee or somebody that's using this thing. That's not the person that designed it. So you're really designing it for someone who's maybe not that technical, who works at the city hall or works in the traffic department, and all they want to do is just understand the information that's coming at the end end system. And so A lot of times, you know, unfortunately, people sort of you know Put some stuff together and do the best they can, but they're doing it from a much more of an engineering perspective as opposed to You know what, if it's an untrained kind of non skilled, non technical person has to then use this thing on a daily basis, and how does it feel to them? how do they get you know into it and how do they get the information out of that they need, that they need. So you know it's, it's, that's. I think that's one of the challenges of the edge compute spaces, like I said, because you're cobbling together. Maybe cobbling is a bit of a pejorative word, but you are, you know, connecting all these different products together to make an experience. Sometimes, you know it's, it's a little bit disjointed, and so how do you pull that together without doing something completely? Yeah, i don't know. You know it's interesting like you're.

Ray Riley:

You're why you're talking, my brain sort of floated around like thinking of you know you're talking about Urban municipal workers looking at screens, trying to understand what matters and What does it matter? I was just like, yeah, like you know, i come to come to think of. You know the emergency, the response team and you know police station and what they go through and you know. And then I was thinking like Mmm security, security operators you know how well that all that data is coming in. However, like ADT or one of those companies deals with all the information that's rolling in there. So some human being must be engaged at some point in That matrix of information funnelling like when, when and how is it important for a human to be involved? You know, like, what's their value in that?

Pete Bernard:

Yeah, I don't know. It's kind of I've never really had right, right.

Ray Riley:

I think it's kind of a cool problem to like dive into, but I've never really been exposed to that. You know I've been exposed to a lot of security robots, you know like in our wrote in my quest for robots like good lord, you know, that's really the only successful story about robots is the things that move her you mean security robots like These things, that kind of roll around and look for interest. You know, which is the big challenge for a lot of robots if you're not a fixed device, you're either rolling on the ground or you're floating around in space, right, you know? and the space things have a limited amount of runtime, so the things that roll around are pretty productive, are there, you know?

Pete Bernard:

heart or their security. Robots that float around in space. We don't know where they are.

Ray Riley:

Startups I've been working with, but it's. I can't talk about that, but let's just say okay, there are ambient ways to have things to fight gravity. You know sure, yeah, well, oh, yeah, yeah, yeah No it's interesting, i think.

Pete Bernard:

I think you think about like security guards and stuff like that. I don't know how much, though, but those I think it's. I don't. I'm not an expert. I imagine the purpose of security guards is more for just to give people a physical presence, that there is a security guard Actually, i'll go play, do so, i don't know and if that goes away because it's a hidden security thing, then is it really as effective?

Ray Riley:

You know, just talking another. Another case that just came to mind is imagine five years from now, when There's every parking garage in planet Earth has robot power sources for electric cars And these contraptions, whatever they are and to run around and charge your vehicle while you're doing whatever you're doing. You don't have to worry about it, you're gonna be in it, you're gonna be in a Participatory plan, but hopefully not just Tesla, but a couple other companies that solve your power problem And all these little devices will run around parking lots or wherever and fuel up your car with electricity, you know, and or replace batteries, whatever the model is, you know how the power gets right vehicle right and somehow that's, it'll be done. Kind of cool edge system has to manage all that information and imagine, like you know yeah, i don't know somewhere, china, your favorite city with gazillions of Mm-hmm Mobility devices that are gonna have to get charged up. You know, that's a kind of a cool, kind of a cool future Model, i don't know, just thinking about yeah, yeah, yeah, no, definitely.

Pete Bernard:

I mean you can almost look at any kind of system these days That's been either cloud-based or kind of on-prem based and it's gonna turn into some kind of edge system where there's some cloud and some On-prem and there's and the connectivity in between but there. But I love the idea of kind of autonomous, autonomous charging robots, that kind of yeah but the deal would be the car or the, the Thinking through the right thing the the source that needs the fuel, assuming the fuel was electricity.

Ray Riley:

Right, has a direct relationship in that edge model with these devices. Maybe that you know the? the cars are damn smart already. Like what the hell is the car going to do down the road? like what can't it do? You know it has more processing than anything. Right, like I don't know. That's kind of yeah.

Pete Bernard:

No, that's interesting. That's interesting. Hey, let me, i guess the other thing to talk about in design and Kind of creative thinking about this is kind of physical design And sort of what's the physicality of the object that people are interacting with, and so what's been some of your kind of interesting experiences on that? I imagine the astro robot had to, it had to show up in a way that was visually pleasing and non-threatening, and you know, i don't know, it's supposed to look like a cuddly puppy or something.

Ray Riley:

Or I will be direct The industrial design was relatively defined before we built a UX team to bring it to life. Right, there was some very there are some variables, but that model was relatively fixed and that that product if you go online and look, you know, the coolest thing from a geek perspective about that product is the camera technology. That's stealth and that when you activated, either it activates itself or you can activate it from your device to see what's going on in your house. And then it kind of goes from friendly little hide to like wow, that thing's got this like telescopic camera that pops up out of its head, zooms around and can look at you know, like, did I leave the stove on, you know? So I can drive it to the stove and see. Or hey, my phone just triggered me that there's this crazy thing going on inside My house. Let me, i can actually navigate device to what I, where I wanted to go, either via voice or by interaction, right, and so that's where you know The device takes on like a different persona. Then, oh, it's the cute little thing that brings me a beer, which I, you know, i can't tell you, i designed that idea, but that was one of the things it was. It had a payload and you could navigate payload to spaces in an environment. Either you could summon it or you could drive right. I don't know if I'm off track here, but right so so you know, was it?

Pete Bernard:

was it refrigerated? that's the question. Well, how do you open the damn refrigerator door to put the thing in? there, right, that's a whole other you know Folks on that right, look somebody's gonna put the beer in the thing and then take it to dad you know, at that point. Why?

Ray Riley:

yeah, but these are early days in the land of consumer robots, like you know.

Pete Bernard:

Got it.

Ray Riley:

I'm not sure there should ever really be consumer robots having work on that project, because people need to get off their ass to do stuff. But there's there's a besides security and besides. Ambient ability to manage spaces. You know, those are the two things that I think are really valuable in that landscape And I think you want to drum buzzing around the inside of your house because they're awful, noisy And they can only do it for a little you know, yeah, i'm into things too like they don't really stay afloat that long without a lot of real deep technology, you know, and then so yeah, we'll also probably attract the attention of your cat for sure.

Pete Bernard:

I can't imagine your cats would be going after that.

Ray Riley:

Yeah, so back to the design, form factor or whatever. I think There haven't been that many Successful consumer robot ventures besides vacuums. Right, the vacuums have a form factor that doesn't alienate human beings, does its job, goes back to its dock and everybody's happy. So I would say to you the only real success and consumer robots from a form factor, that's true. The vacuum cleaner right.

Pete Bernard:

And I think it's telling that Amazon is telling them is on, but you know Roomba right in the last 12 months. I mean, that tells you something right there. I'm sure they bought it more for their technology than their devices.

Ray Riley:

But I don't know anything about that, i'm just at rest of the meeting. But But you know, the whole navigation feature of navigating spaces is the biggest challenge for devices and not banging into things and not rolling downstairs and yeti, yeti, yeti, and I think you'll see, i think you'll see. I don't underestimate the future of form factors and consumer robots. I'm sure there'll be more compelling form factors that are, you know, speaking to what they do besides vacuums, but I think it'll take a while for it to be Super valuable to human beings.

Pete Bernard:

Yeah, i had a. I had an interesting robot that i've been using haven't used in a while, but it's a window cleaning. So you know, you have a, we have these really tall windows and you know who wants to get up on a ladder in the squeegee, whatever, you put this thing on the window And it has a way of sticking to the window and it rotates its bristles or whatever its pads are And it will work its way through across down the whole window and do a nice cleaning inside and out. It's tethered to a power line, right, you know, which is fine, but you kind of set it and forget and it kind of does its little algorithm and and so i thought that was pretty cool. That's pretty cool Thing where it's like what's a piece of functionality that it's kind of a pain for a human to do and why not just kind of stick your robot on the window and let it go do its things?

Ray Riley:

I think those are the case studies for successful, you know, dimensional robots, at least for the guy knows how far out of the future. I've been sort of focused on the right blue collar world with my venture, thinking i'm not really playing cards, but What do people do? a lot of jobs that suck, and you know, it seems like that's where we don't really tend to focus on those poor people as much as we should, and i think that's where, in a consumer landscape, right, new form factors of technology with robotic Potential to me seems like the place to look, not bringing more robots into the home that just do stupid stuff, you know. So.

Pete Bernard:

Yeah, especially if, like, it's a repeatable. You know that's repeatable. I always thought, like for autonomous vehicles, like the easiest, lowest hanging fruit for autonomous vehicles is the rental car show. You go to the airport, you get on that bus and it brings you to the thing. Now there's a person that drives it and i'm sure that's. You know it's an important job, but i can't imagine that that would be a job you want to be. You know that you want to be getting a lot of jobs and why not have that be an autonomous vehicle that just does the same route over and over again all day long and all night long, stuff like that. so i think a lot of these commercial or maybe blue collar commercial spaces Are good places for robots and autonomous things that can kind of repeat the pattern over and over again.

Ray Riley:

My personal sort of landscape is not to replace the human, but to assist the human to be more efficient is the goal for where i'm headed, you know. So If i can make a carpenter's life better and not have him, you know, screw around and do stupid physical things that engage him in the wrong ways and he can be faster and more efficient, right then. I didn't replace his job by assistant, right?

Pete Bernard:

Who knows exactly super superpower, super charge, while i was like, instead of the driver, the avis driver, maybe make that person the avis ambassador. So they're still on the bus, but they're not driving it and they're there to help passengers with their luggage, answer questions maybe somewhat entertaining About the new city that they've landed in. Just be like the avis ambassador. It's like the greeter at walmart, you know this. Put them on the bus and let the bus drive itself.

Ray Riley:

I think that would be a much better customer experience is flew through vegas, if we just You know, it's like right before memorial day weekend. Oh my god. The rental cars shit show there. Oh my god.

Pete Bernard:

Yeah, yeah, it's nuts. Well, you know it's a day and we're getting up base here. But the rental car thing every new airport, every time they design an airport, it's an opportunity to move the rental cars farther and farther from the airport. So now they're like five miles away, in the middle of nowhere, there's a big building and so Now, when you land, you get to enjoy another hours worth of travel to by the time you actually get your butt in the seat. You know, but that's it.

Ray Riley:

That's the line the line for the line for fifty. You know the biggest car rental location, everybody's been through it. The line for three circle all the way around the inside and out of door. Crazy. Somebody said it was a two hour way to get a car well then, that's an incredible.

Pete Bernard:

That's it. What's a valuable problem to solve for thrifty right through some sort of solution? that obviously Therein lies the opportunity for all of us right in the in the edge computing space is go to call thrifty and figure out yeah, let me. Let me rewind a little bit. I'm gonna circle back to my one of my initial premises around the project we worked on and I don't know if you remember or you've heard I once had my previous podcast, had Robbie Bach on the show. You remember Robbie yeah, yeah, and Robbie and I we talked about sorts of all sorts of things I think you had a book out of time Time but one of them was, you know, can project pink, the infamous phone project, and I and he was on. You know, he was on the other side of the table for me, so I was part of the core team that pitched it And got Robbie's approval right and in fact we acquired side sidekick and all that stuff through Robbie's approval, which That's a whole other story that I don't have enough to help you tell the story of how we almost Everything that had, whatever.

Ray Riley:

so that's a whole story.

Pete Bernard:

Yeah, no, that was a. Yeah, that's all right, but, but this can thing, you know what I loved about it? I mean, obviously it's, it's, it was so for folks and not familiar. You go Google it or whatever, i guess, being it you could. It was on the market for about 40 days. It was Microsoft's own phone. But it wasn't just a phone, it was actually a service And the phone was just a physical instantiation of the service. So the concept was it was an edge, it was a cloud to edge system. So basically, you're, all your stuff Was in the cloud. That was the primary thing in the in the Kin studio, what we call. All your messages, all your notifications, everything was in the cloud, all your contacts. And then it had a single data pipe and that cloud connected to Facebook and Twitter and all these services. And then there was a single data pipe that went to this physical device that we call the phone, like the turtle. The turtle can one, can two, and so it all showed up on that phone and so everything that you had there was it was like a digital twin In the cloud of the device on the edge and those things were sort of in sync right. So we kept Kind of an edge to cloud connection on and so was. It was amazing. And of course we built it Kind of from scratch, right. I mean we built it with sand in one end and the product came out the other. I mean it was there was no azure back then And we, i think we use an nvidia tegra processor like so see on the device, which no one is before, and we build a silver light ux framework which no one is usually in retrospect. We sort of made it as difficult as humanly possible to pull it off. But That was an example of where we said we're gonna put ourselves in the totally in the position of the consumer or the end user.

Ray Riley:

In this case, i think tiana and Miguel were there are a tick tock, tick tock consumer back then it was our kids can say exactly like you know. So we got me, we're like what is the enterprise, the idea to business people, but that's a whole other story. But yeah, you know.

Pete Bernard:

That was the forces, the forces, but that's why i didn't have a calendar to begin with because you use the calendars. Exactly so. it was interesting because we basically and this was back in see twenty two thousand seven, two thousand eight, we sort of said, let's just kind of plop ourselves in that mindset of those consumers and what their life was all about, what was important to them. what was important to them were their friends, and You know their connections and that was?

Ray Riley:

it was a facebook, it was all, and we built this book. You know, yeah, i understand that, but there was no, we sort of said Yeah yeah, i think it was maybe a year in the space, but it wasn't like any phone and there was no phone in the market that was speaking to what we were doing. Facebook, no, no.

Pete Bernard:

Yeah, no, it was pretty cool because it was a very design driven project. I mean between you and john freedman and other folks. Albert, i'll probably catch up with you.

Ray Riley:

Have to some point and the show to you got to yeah.

Pete Bernard:

But these are you guys were. You guys were some heavy hitters in the design space and i remember it's fair was a very one of probably the most design driven Projects. I've been on it. Almost the technology and engineering i wouldn't say was secondary but it really served the design.

Ray Riley:

Yeah, i think it was the. I think it was, and you gotta give jr a lot of credit to for backing us up and setting us up and allowing us.

Pete Bernard:

Yeah, he was.

Ray Riley:

You know i'm and i was who believed in us rose, who who backed it, and you know bunch of other people that you can go into a long list of people. But you know, there was the zoon venture and then there was the pink venture and we sort of tethered off of the zoom Like paradigm within microsoft to go off and support consumer first, not, you know, software first and that was a first, for i think zoom was first that we were second, and you know we push the boundaries beyond what i think microsoft had ever done internally, from a design first, consumer first, problem solving, program right, you know, usually it's all about software back then, about whatever software people thought was smart, and then it would be retrofitted back to a consumer, whatever right or was about, like selling a window license.

Pete Bernard:

I guess i was not focusing on solving.

Ray Riley:

Yeah wasn't focused on delighting a consumer right out of the gate.

Pete Bernard:

You know, with simplicity, yeah, typically no, yeah right, it was. It was a windows first model so we had. That was an interesting flip and i think a lot of companies since then have been taking, trying to take that models like let me, you know, get into the mindset of the target customer first. You know we talk about. We say customer obsessed. We didn't use that term back then but we were customer.

Ray Riley:

And i think you know and to be fair, soon started. I mean, you know, zoom pioneered so many hard, hard steps to get people who run the business open minded to explore that, and i think you know that's why i think we probably had more.

Pete Bernard:

We probably put more energy into convincing our stakeholders around microsoft. Then we did energy into building the product.

Ray Riley:

I mean i wish we had put all the energy into just yeah, but we did, that's what we could, but invention right, like you know. Yeah, true, gotta get from entrepreneurship. Yeah, i mean, you know i was proud of that part, for what it's goal was. It's just unfortunate that we never really figured out a way to market it to the right people who actually would have benefited from it. But you know that's a whole other problem.

Pete Bernard:

Yeah, well, it was. You know, one of the interesting things about kin, too, was Kin was about the. You know. It came to market and this is outside of the control of us, of course was just a few months after android Was launched on rise and so rise and was our launch partner. We work with them for about two years on this thing. Just before, a few months before we were gonna launch, they came out with droid. Right, remember droid?

Ray Riley:

that team? didn't that team, briefly, when we purchased another company?

Pete Bernard:

I don't know, maybe, i think, maybe but i think they bailed when yeah, that's right, because the spin off from sidekick was a what's the name? from google.

Ray Riley:

Yeah, yeah yeah, that human, that partnership with those guys for some period of time and then they bolted to google.

Pete Bernard:

Yeah yeah, but droid came out a few months before and then. so Verizon was like what was that was competing against the iPhone? 18, had the iPhone rise and came out with droid And so they were all in on droid. and so then, when our phone and our service came to market, basically said we're gonna price it like droid And it wasn't designed to be priced that way, is designed as a feature phone for teenagers and so we ended up. You know It was kind of doa at that point because the prices do was just one of those unfortunate so Architectural faux pas. Well, it goes to show you that even when you do the design right and under and your customer obsessed and you invent incredible new tech And do all this stuff, if you don't get the go to market right and the pricing and the delivery that can kill you and you know you talk a lot about companies where they have well, they think a lot about the architecture and I've now got containers and Kubernetes is like, oh, that's great, you know, but how are you going to sell it, deliver it, price it? you know, support it, because if you don't get that right, all this other stuff doesn't matter too. So it's really thinking holistically about the solutions that include, you know, the go to market as well as the engineering, and that kin was a classic example of that, even though it was this digital twin Totally crazy thing that we totally overshot. You know, our vision did the best we could, but the end of the day, the go to market killed it.

Ray Riley:

But you know, i mean I do. I do think that it was a stepping stone and then the next windows phone architecture that came to life, that Albert did drive from a design perspective with other really gifted people. That is probably one of the best mobile interaction models ever invented at the time if not the best, true, i would argue the best interaction model yet that's been invented for mobile devices.

Pete Bernard:

Yeah, so the, yeah, the live tiles, and I'm not saying the reason tiles came from kin.

Ray Riley:

But the point is, zoom allowed kin, that allowed that mobile phone model. You know, right happen and I think executives were getting dialed into exactly. You know, okay, design does drive a real value here. Let's back it and let's see where it goes.

Pete Bernard:

And you, know there's a lot of, that's all right. Yeah, no, you can do with Albert you know a bunch of yeah, yeah, yeah, i'll do that with, but maybe get John Friedman on here too, but yeah, no, that was a. That was a very design driven thing, and you're right, i think it sort of set a very high standard for How do you put a, put design at the center and let the technology the other venture that has to be spoken about.

Ray Riley:

that also was happening. then, right after kin, was courier, which was another huge stepping down to get executives you know, mr gates down the food chain to buy into design led venturing versus Software next.

Pete Bernard:

You know so anyhow, yeah, the courier, yeah, those are the days. Well, and now we have lots of, lots of companies you're working with some of them, i'm sure that are going to disrupt these markets with interesting things. That. So now it's up to small. It's an opportunity for smaller companies.

Ray Riley:

Being a device based inventor, you know. Designer, experience creator, you know I always seem to attach to devices, you know one way or the other. I don't mind just doing a software experience device, but I think it's, as you know, it's just getting harder and harder to to do venturing around new devices, and I think that's that's one of the it'll be interesting to see. With the retraction of funding with the Silicon Valley bank. You know I'm fortunate outcome like right. How much venture money will plow into device based innovation in the future?

Pete Bernard:

I don't know.

Ray Riley:

I want to show the project down that we were running for a couple years and we were being funded and then they do you know?

Pete Bernard:

the word was we're not doing it anymore with you guys.

Ray Riley:

We just work.

Pete Bernard:

We're pulling out, yeah and it was like, wow, cost of money and things like that, but yeah but the thing is like I think you know song, yeah, but as long as you have humans that need to interact with things, you know having form factors and hardware, whether that's like health care or whatever like, there's going to be devices And so you have to find the right mix of, and those devices will be connected to services that will be connected to the cloud, that is the way it is My favorite but you know, i don't think that's going to go away consumer first kind of guy.

Ray Riley:

My favorite model right now is bird buddy. Love these guys like. I don't know if you're familiar yeah, i see that.

Pete Bernard:

I see me as such a cool thing of my wife is really into it.

Ray Riley:

I've been watching the experience and there's there's problems, like with every startup, but But they're actually. They developed a new device. The paradigm that that is is sticky enough that they're rewarding you slowly but steady with rare software experiences. I think it's sticky. I think this thing will it will let land because they will.

Pete Bernard:

They have a consumer group, that's into what it does.

Ray Riley:

I can see the bird. I can see it's like so fucking, it's so cool, you know yeah, well, that's the insight.

Pete Bernard:

The insight they had was that people aren't really interested in feeding birds, they're interested in watching birds. You only feed the birds so that you can see the birds. So you know, if you really focus on, well, how do I just like It goes? I don't know if you've seen on YouTube, there's some really good.

Ray Riley:

You can go for hours just have a bird watching me now that we've got one in my wife's getting used to using it, like there's all these other things that go on, like yeah, there's bird warfare going on. There's like one bird who protects the thing in the other birds kind of try and get in there. You can go on through the whole list but it's. But if you're into birds like a reality.

Pete Bernard:

TV show birds man.

Ray Riley:

They've tapped it and then where they go with it. Next is I think really interesting.

Pete Bernard:

so anyway, that's my case study right now and that's a device, you know the software and the cameras.

Ray Riley:

Whatever you get it, that was my one of my faves the other company that I think is asleep right now from a device based opportunity is, you know kind of. You may like go sideways on this, but I think Milwaukee is a company that is ripe for Tech innovation, like they've established the tool they've established like they grew like they exploded like four years ago. There was just a drill and a saw and whatever. And if you look at Milwaukee's line and right you go on a line, look at all the stuff they're making right now. You know, with battery power things have been liberated. They're building incredible batteries where do those batteries? go What happens next? you know and like where could that business model go down the road like We?

Pete Bernard:

need batteries for everything, right, so yeah that's yeah, well, i think. Yeah, it's a big Milwaukee, i mean everything. Everyone has been to a home depot, seen them. But they also have a pretty cool brand. It's a brand that says I can get things done.

Ray Riley:

Well, i think that my research in this space was what I've been working on and off casually for the last few years in all my research. it is the number one brand of respect in the working class culture, like they're the brand that matters everybody aspires to, everybody stuck with the right of these, but everybody wants Milwaukee and I think they've established Yeah, there you go, that's it. I mean, that is that company. I don't think they even understand. Well, i'm sure they understand, but They're still, they're still like in the stuff that they imagine, where that could expand to. That's my thinking, that's the way I think so No, it's, it's super valuable.

Pete Bernard:

Yeah, no, it's a fascinating space, so Cool. Well, you know, i really appreciate the time, ray. I think it's been good to catch up and reminisce a little bit, but you know there's so many interesting things happening in front of us. I mean, i don't think we're gonna run out of work to do for another hundred. I doubt it so that's good news, i hope for the funding.

Ray Riley:

hope for the funding stands are for the wacky new ventures and Oh, there's always funding, there's always funding, you know, there's always as long as there's a return.

Pete Bernard:

That's funny. Yeah, that's the old Max yeah, but Okay, cool man so good. any closing words of wisdom?

Ray Riley:

Well you know the whole conversation we had about the edge in design. I think that's an interesting. I don't think designers are. I don't think too many design leaders are focused on that in their institutions And I doubt many consulting firms yeah unless they're hired to deal with that problem are focused on that opportunity space.

Pete Bernard:

So yeah, interesting, interesting like. Interesting landscape to explore, you know like where that goes with you, what you were to do with it if you're gonna drive that like Who like it would be interesting to have, like a round table on a theme or something or I don't know you know, but you pick it. but yeah, no, it feels like it's a bit of an underserved. It's an underserved market right now relative to design.

Ray Riley:

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I mean there's room, there's room to enhance that, i'm sure all right, cool Ray. Thanks a lot and talk soon, see you, thank you, bye. bye, it won't let me leave the Sachs shit in my head.

Pete Bernard:

Thanks for joining us today on the Edge Cell Sewer Show. Please subscribe and stay tuned for more and check us out online about how you can scale your Edge compute business. Thanks for joining us today on the Edge Cell Sewer Show.

Understanding Edge Compute and Creative Engineering
Edge Compute Challenges and Future Possibilities
Design and Future of Consumer Robots
The infamous Microsoft KIN
Design and Go-to-Market Intersection
Underserved Market in Design