About 60 miles from the site of the deadly 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima prefecture, inside a former silicon chip manufacturing facility owned by the Japanese computer company Fujitsu, a small team of highly trained engineers are working on one of the company’s hottest new products.
Fujitsu’s marketing team claims it’s already proving a hit with their oldest—and youngest—consumers. It’s so popular, in fact, it’s probably just the first in a long line of related Fujitsu products. The product is lettuce. Like the giant monolith in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001, this new head of lettuce is simultaneously a product of this factory’s past and the future.
Fujitsu is a space-age R&D innovator with sprawling, specialized factories. But several of its facilities, including this one, went dark when the company tightened its belt and reorganized its product lines after the 2008 global financial crisis. Now in the aftermath, it has retrofitted this facilities to serve tomorrow’s vegetable consumers, who will pay for a better-than-organic product, and who enjoy a bowl of iceberg more if they know it was monitored by thousands of little sensors.
With the launch of a higher-end surveillance camera, Dropcam signaled it is broadening its focus to become a platform for connected homes. Unveiled Thursday, Dropcam Pro ($199) offers substantial hardware and software upgrades over its nearly two-year-old predecessor, which the company will continue to offer at $149. Most notably, with the inclusion of a Bluetooth low-energy radio in Dropcam Pro, the company has opened up the potential for the camera to communicate with and receive cues from other sensors.