Design & Messaging

Top 10 Great Products and Services to Watch in 2020

A decade has past to learn from, and we have a decade to be inspired. The top products to look forward to in 2020 have taken years to get here. Not only have the companies behind them ideated, but executed, and delivered products into the marketplace.

If you’re wondering where the future is. It’s here, It’s just not evenly distributed yet.

These companies have harnessed Specific AI, Automation, Cloud-Based Micro-Service Architecture & Across-Device, Over-the-Air, SDKs & APIs, and some have aggressively targeted critical social situations that need new solutions

To make the Top 10 List, the following products need to fulfill one or several of the criteria below. These product designs have to be:

  • Bleeding edge + useful to our lives
  • Intelligent & holistically considerate thinking
  • A platform for community growth

Wit that being said, let’s look at the top 10 product designs in 2020

1. Icon's Vulcan II

Download & Print your House at Half the Cost

Overall 96%

Icon is introducing 3D Printing to the housing market, and has been making a real impact on cost of construction so far. Critically impoverished and homeless have been dignified with solid construction and elegant design. As our world continues to automate we may find more of the world homeless.

Icon’s Vulcan II is capable of printing upwards of 2,000 sq. ft. and you can download & print your house at half the cost. Lower cost in quicker time means less resources needed to produce a house, which in some cases may receive push back from contractors; however this product increases value to a homeowner – which is good for business profit margins.

Icon’s Vulcan II debuted in 2018 and is ready to ride the wave of the 4th Industrial Revolution. Icon scores high for bringing technology to the market to help those that need it most.

ICON Vulcan II

2. Tesla's CyberTruck

A Platform for Automotive

Overall 93%

The Tesla Cybertruck is a breakout product

Tesla’s Cybertruck product impresses upon the mind, that it embodies everything a car should be. Impact Resistant, Goes Anywhere, Wicked-Fast, Useful and Efficient. Car designs have been stagnant for decades. The Tesla design team accelerated through acceptable design limits, cutting through legacy brands. 

Unlike other brands, Tesla is not just a car, it’s also a platform. Tesla runs its own power network across the country, which is almost its own social network. As consumers are pressured to shift away from gas engines to hybrid or pure electric options – the company with a nationwide recharging network is ready for a shared services model.

Unfortunately by pushing bleeding edge with AI, consumers have mis-understood the limitations of specific AI (i.e. trusting the AI too much and falling asleep at the wheel… And Crashing), however since a Tesla is pretty much an iPhone-on-Wheels it receives over-the-air software updates as needed to adapt faster.

Tesla has a platform and can scale into other categories such as shipping and increase its collective intelligence by continually improving and its AI. Tesla gets high scores for brand acceleration, however at some point it we’d like to see Tesla expand into lower price-point markets.

Tesla Cybertruck


3. Boston Dynamics' Spot

Industry’s New Best Friend

Overall 91%

Right around Mid September of last year Boston Dynamics spiked interest in their latest industrial application called Spot. There are a few technologies that tickle a little fear, like Boston Dynamics Spot Platform. Netflix’s Black Mirror Mini-Series Episode: Metalhead explores the result of weaponizing highly mobile autonomous robots. 

While entertainment shows us a world filled with killbots; the real world is filling up with actual killbots…

AI Powered weapons platforms are networked and loaded with on-board sensors and weapons systems that are, fast and accurate.

Source: DefenseOne

Perhaps because of its canine-like posture and name. Spot aligns with the archetype of mans best friend (the dog). This domesticated robot fits very well within the industrial environment, and its backbone platform for hardware and software makes it ideal for adapting to business needs.

This product scores very high as it provides a bleeding edge platform for utility. However currently there appears to be very little related to deploying this platform within other domains of society.

Boston Dynamics

4. Google's Sycamore Chip

Ushering the New Era of Computing Power

Overall 91%

Google has delivered value for so many for consumers and businesses. With cash on hand over $100+ Billion, and over 100,000 employees, Google has plenty of room to explore, and Google’s Sycamore Chip may become the new tool for academic researchers and companies to find applications to solve critical issues.

The dreams are high and the first results are in. The Sycamore Chip is FAST, but not in traditional ways – In some ways it can produce a result in 200 seconds vs. a traditional supercomputer that may take 10,000 years. However some of the latest super computers coming out of NASA’s Oak Ridge National Lab may still give the Sycamore Chip a run for its money.

The Google Sycamore Chip scores high for breaking through to a new realm of computing, however its still early and like most things in the early days, are error prone and not ready to be packaged up and shipped to your doorstep. It may take an entire decade for companies and research scientists to create applications; but if and when those applications find a market fit, watch out!

Google AI Blog

5. Amazon's Echo with Alexia

The Power of Presence

Overall 98%

Even though since 2018 Google Home has had more sales per month than Amazon Echo, Amazon still has a 2.55 to 1 ratio of household share. Amazon is becoming ubiquitous providing its audience many ways to interact with the brand; and some I dare say would find it a challenge to not have Amazon in their life.

The benefit of being a technology company first is your ability to bleed into almost any domain you’d like. Amazon Echo engulfs many formerly disparate services such as voice search, music, shopping, personal assistance and home security.

The Echo has become a staple in over 40m households, and its continual growth and adoption may provide a challenge for Google as it relates to Voice Search, as Voice so far has had a tendency to provide 1 result, where as the conventional search results page returns 10 to 100,000,000s of results.

6. Beyond Meat

Goodbye Conventional Meat. Hello Alternative.

Overall 99%

The United Nations and the World Bank are telling us that by 2040 conventional meat supply will drop by 33% however food demand will increase between ~30% to ~60%. So what should we eat? Alternative meat? Beyond Meat goes beyond the stigma of non muscle-tissue food sources by providing something that tastes better and costs less.

Not only has Beyond Meat built a great product, they’ve been accepted by the marketplace with several successful initiatives with McDonalds, Carls Jr and Dunkin.

From a Brand perspective, Beyond Meat has had a stellar track record of staying top of mind over competitors Impossible Meat and Redefine Meat. As environmental pressures grow related to cattle methane and meat production costs Beyond Meat should have a steady market to eat into.

Beyond Meat

7. Netflix

The Storyteller of the Decade

Overall 98%

Netflix made the right decision to switch to a cloud-based micro-services architecture to handle its growing its list of subscriber pushing beyond 160M active accounts. Serving up content across Gaming Consoles, OTT, Smartphone, Desktop and TV means the Netflix brand is accessible everywhere you are. 

 With approximately ~33% of consumers cancelling their cable TV in 2018 alone Netflix has done a superb job building original appealing content for their subscription service.

Taking place of your DVD library Netflix has a smattering of great titles, and a ton of “meh” sequels, and a continual stream of new cross-over content (i.e. from the gaming industry including Castlevania and the Witcher). Book-to-movie titles such as Birdbox resulted in 45M views it’s first weekend.

Netflix has been incredibly sensitive to what makes a series popular such as the psychological technological horror series Black Mirror which melds the advent of technology with the frailty of humanity. 


8. Minecraft by Mojang

Rated E for Everyone. Literally Everyone!

Overall 98%

Minecraft’s procedurally generated open world is a canvas for fun, creativity and a way to make a real-life income. The team at Mojang has delivered a single brand experience across multiple devices further reinforcing their Better Together mantra with cross-platform collaborative play. A community of gamers and hobbyists create together without the restrictions of device silos. 

A game that can attract everyone from toddlers, youtube influencers and award winning architects has done something right. Similar to Lego, Minecraft has become a social norm and may continue to be so, even while numerous copycats attempt to draft off Mojang’s success. 

While Minecraft doesn’t necessarily develop “bleeding edge” technology, Mojang has successfully inverted technical capabilities to suite the needs of communal creation and monetization which by all accounts is a stellar achievement.

Minecraft by Mojang

9. Yang2020 and the #YangGang

Wholly Different. Caring & Truthful.

Overall 98%

Andrew Yang is a by-product of American culture. As an entrepreneur he traveled across the country to discover the pulse of Americans, using data to find the reasons why so many are struggling to keep hope alive. As a result Yang packaged up a concept called “Humanity First” & “Not Left, Not Right. Forward”

In terms of audience interest, he punches heavier than his weight. 

His team uses technology well, and appear adept and experienced. However its the message that is cutting through, being adopted and shared because it resonates with long-asleep values that every human shares. 

This is a cognitive product that has been packaged very well.

10. Carbon-Scrubbing Artificial Trees

The $6 Trillion Dollar Silver Bullet

Overall 94%

This product has been around for a while, and the tests look good. Apparently we can solve our entire carbon issue with a form of sequestration. 

This shag looking carpet is a type of resin that extracts CO2 from the atmosphere 1,000 x better than a tree, which is good, because a forest is incapable of handling our industrial strength emissions, so why not have industrial-strength artificial trees. 

Too much Yin, not enough Yang? Nature works in cycles, and we should too.

The good thing is carbon can be converted back into liquid fuel (gasoline, diesel, methanol, dimethyl ether or alcohol), or used for concrete construction in 3D Printers for housing, or stored back in the ground with the dinosaurs.

In terms of cost we’re looking at ~$20,000 to manufacture each Artificial Tree. And we need 100,000,000 to capture the carbon we currently produce. And we’d need another 100,000,000 to remove the carbon currently in the atmosphere. Add in an additional $10,000 for installation. Manufacturing 200,000,000 Units would require automation to produce in a timely manner. Desserts may be the best location for large-scale installation. It would take 50 years to get back to balance. 

What a great legacy we would leave, if we invested in our future.

Northwestern U 

Deploy & Go-to-Market Design & Messaging Development & DevOps

How to Build an App that is Relevant in 2020

As a consultant, I’ve learned to start off asking “Why” vs. “How” as this helps prepare for the long journey of what you will be building. First let’s start off with the first few questions I believe need to be answered first.

What is an App?

For beginners, an “App” or Application helps you preform a task on a device such as smartphone, tablet, watch, laptop, desktop and even tv. An App can exist  within a micro-services environment where it can access shared data and services. Netflix has many Apps across your Smartphones, TVs and  Gaming Consoles powered by a cloud-based micro-services architecture. An app should be perfectly tailored for the environment for which it is  used.

How much will it cost?

For starters, COST is only one factor out of three to consider. The other are PRICE and VALUE. Price is how much the market is willing to pay, and value is how much void you fill in someones life. A better question is to ask much margin can I expect? And how can I optimize to increase my margins overtime? The key to optimizing the ratios for a cash positive business is a little industry secret called Design Thinking… Good design thinking impacts:

  1. the quality of your product,
  2. the ease by which you develop and adapt,
  3. the features and methods of customer engagement

Empathy is Important

Understanding how to fulfill the needs of your user is the most important thing to focus on. Everything stems from that. Start with empathy. Put yourself in the shoes of the recipient of your product.

  • Why would they include you in their lives?
  • How would you introduce yourself?
  • What voids do you fill?
  • What are you asking in return?

This user centric approach helps you take an empathic view to you discover the voids to fill, and the value you can deliver which helps define price, which invariably helps you determine your margins over cost.

So once you know the void and the approaches you’d like to take, the next question is how technically feasible is it and how much does it cost. 

Think Progress not Perfection

If you want a realistic picture of what it takes to build a great app or product, take a look at the Top 10 Product Designs of 2020 to get a sense of how they break from the pack and focus on what is valuable to their communities. Checkout the Top 10 Products in 2020


If you’re a startup thinking about building an app; take a step back and think about the larger business you may be building. If you’re a manager within a medium to larger organization think of an app within an eco-system of shared services so you can progress your company towards omni-channel customer engagement.

Clear design thinking will help answer the why, what and how and taking as step back to clarify your thoughts may save you enormous overhead during the development process as well as help you avoid serious mis-targeting of your audience and business model.

To build an app that is relevant in 2020 you have to have a holistic and contemporary engagement method. It’s all about attention, not just features.

If you’re interested Take the Online Test, and we’ll send you a score.

Also don’t forget to signup for the upcoming COURSE on Product Design


AI in Entertainment – LA


AI Startup Lightning Panel

O. Liam Wright – Founder & CEO Linkedin

December 11 from 6:45 pm – 7:30 pm
@AIWorldExpo Boston Dec 11 – 13

Join AI start-up advisor Steve Ardire who will moderate this panel with AI startups. Each panelist will present their innovative AI-powered application, followed by an interactive panel of experts who will provide unbiased feedback along with audience Q&A.

Register for Tickets

AI Startup Lightning Panel
AI World is the industry’s largest independent event focused on the state of the practice of enterprise AI and machine learning.  AI World is designed to help business and technology executives cut through the hype, and learn how advanced intelligent technologies are being successfully deployed to build competitive advantage, drive new business opportunities, reduce costs and accelerate innovation efforts.

AI World is the “must attend” event for enterprise executives and decision makers from Global 2000 organizations. The 3–day conference and expo brings together the entire applied AI ecosystem, including innovative enterprises, industry thought leaders, startups, investors, developers, independent researchers and leading solution providers. Join 110+ speakers and 75+ sponsors and exhibitors and thousands of attendees.

AI Startup Lightning Panel

Cybersecurity – Emerging Threats, Issues and Trends in 2017 and Beyond

Cybersecurity has taken on a new urgency with the emergence of ransomware attacks, the spread of crippling global viruses and state-sponsored cyber-attacks. Our panelists will tackle the complex issues involved in addressing this pervasive challenge and discuss the strategic, tactical and technology issues faced by businesses and all stakeholders in keeping their collective enterprises safe from cyber-attacks. We will also look at the wave of new regulation – especially at the state level – that will likely serve as a national blueprint for cybersecurity regulatory efforts in the future and the new burdens and responsibilities this places of U.S. companies.

Craig A. Newman, Partner PBWT, J.D.
Craig Newman is a partner at the law firm Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP. He is a recognized leader in both complex financial litigation and global cybersecurity. In his cybersecurity work, Craig represents clients in litigation, regulatory and governance matters, and the management of risks associated with data security practices and policies including data breach preparedness and response. A former journalist, Craig appears regularly on national television including CNBC, CNN and Bloomberg, discussing issues at the intersection of business, law and cybersecurity, and has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and Financial Times. He was named as one of the National Law Journal’s 2015 “Cybersecurity & Data Privacy Trailblazers.”

John Missale, Senior Vice President, Beijing Deepthought Software Ltd.
One of the foremost innovators in the development of television, communications, digital content syndication, web and mobile based advanced technology, products, platforms and services, John is currently Senior Vice President of Beijing Deepthought Software Ltd, and Senior Advisor and CTO to MMEC an Alliance of partner companies sponsored by IEEE and SMPTE to create international cloud and micro service standards. John is currently building technical and business platforms in China for HunanTV, Beijing TV and Shanghai TV, moving their operations to multiple clouds. John was the CTO and CISO for Worldnow/Frankly Media leading the technology, architecture and product management for Worldnow’s media technology, CMS, OTT, OVP, TVE streaming mobile, digital syndication, advertising, non-linear and linear scheduling and publishing platform.

Michael F. Buchanan, Partner, PBWT, J.D.
Michael Buchanan is a litigation partner at the law firm Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP who focuses his practice at the intersection of law and technology. An engineer by training and a former federal prosecutor, Mr. Buchanan regularly represents clients in cybersecurity matters, including breach investigations and counseling on related regulatory issues. Before joining the firm, Mr. Buchanan spent over nine years at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey where he handled matters involving the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, insider trading, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, health care kickbacks, off-label marketing, and Medicare/Medicaid and private insurance fraud. During his tenure, Mr. Buchanan served as Chief of the Securities and Health Care Fraud Unit, Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division, and as Chief of the Terrorism Unit.
Paul Poh, Managing Partner, Tixzy, CISSP, CISM, CRISC, CIPP/US

Paul Poh is a Managing Partner at Tixzy, a boutique technology firm with expertise in Cloud, Data Analytics, and Information Security. He has over 25 years of experience with a focus on information security, infrastructure design, and software development. With a background in both large Fortune 500 organizations and small successful startups, Paul also spent 7 years with the largest separately managed account processor where he was head of information security and software architecture and responsible for the protection of over a trillion dollars of managed accounts. He joined the account processor with the acquisition of a small highly successful Boston-based provider of advanced wealth management support and trade order management tools where he designed the company’s software as a service offering.

Rocco Grillo, Executive Managing Director, Stroz Friedberg, CISSP, CRMA, PCI-QSA, and Certified Third Party Risk Assessor (CTPRA)
Rocco Grillo is an Executive Managing Director serving on Stroz Friedberg’s Executive Management team. In this role, Mr. Grillo is responsible for the oversight and supervision of the firm’s global Cyber Resilience business, which includes teams that perform cybersecurity, incident response investigation, red team penetration testing and application security services. He serves as a trusted advisor to clients, including boards and executive management teams, on a broad range of cybersecurity and incident response investigations services across all industries. Rocco is an internationally-recognized expert in the field of information security and incident response investigations and has assisted Fortune 500 corporations, law enforcement agencies, major law firms, industry threat intelligence organizations, as well as industry regulators with all matters involving cybersecurity, incident response and computer forensics, in addition to other security threat services.

Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP 1133 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036-6710
Thu, October 19, 2017 5:30 PM – 8:00 PM EDT

Optimum Partners is a strategic IT Services Provider that enables its clients to compete and win in the digital economy. It delivers true and tailored value services to global and dynamic organizations through domain expertise, cooperative partnership and world-class delivery.

True Interaction, LLC, founded in 2012, embodies the vision, research and technology that fuels the world’s most innovative solutions. True Interaction creates, constructs and amplifies business ecosystems – from infrastructures to interfaces – that leading-edge companies are built upon, in the areas of data strategy and discovery, digital transformation, and product design and development.

PWBT, founded in 1919, PBWT is a law firm of over 200 lawyers committed to providing high quality legal advice and service to clients and to maintaining a congenial and diverse workplace. We make our clients’ business issues our own. At the same time, we care about our attorneys, our staff and the community we are privileged to serve. As a result of our performance and our values, the firm is often included on The American Lawyer’s “A-List” of 20 leading law firms in the United States.

Tixzy is a boutique technology firm with expertise in cloud computing, information security and data analytics. The company focuses on solving complex business problems and accelerating our client’s growth.



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