Tyler Suiters  0:11 

Hey everybody, with a consumer Technology Association, I’m Tyler Suiters. We own and we produce CES, the most influential tech event on the planet. We are here to help you get CES ready. The next show is January 8-11, 2019, in Las Vegas, and every major industry and every emerging industry will be represented in some way at the show. So today, we're talking about the fact that every company is or needs to be a tech company. Major brands are at CES: 70 companies from the Fortune Global 100, 96 members of the Interbrand 100 attended CES 2018. And today we're talking to two major exhibitors at the 2019 show from

 

Tyler Suiters  1:00 

very diverse sectors, one from agriculture and one from health and beauty. And these are global brands you know well: John Deere and L'Oreal. Long-time companies, long-time brands who see the benefits of driving technology. And not just that, they both have dedicated functions within their companies for innovation labs, driving internal innovation to drive their success and the 21st century. Today, on CES Tech Talk, a conversation about the fact that every company is a tech company.

 

Tyler Suiters  1:38 

With us today is John Teeple. He is director of advanced technology at John Deere. He's joining us from HQ of the Intelligent Solutions Group for Deere in Iowa. And, John, great to have you with us today.

 

John Teeple  1:53 

Great to be here, Tyler.

Tyler Suiters 1:55

So our theme today as you've heard, every company needs to be a tech company today and, in many ways, every industry is a tech industry. That said few companies are as old as venerated as a company like John Deere, a nearly 200-year-old history. Boy, how do you become a tech company? How do you see yourselves as a tech company with so much experience in one sector?

 

John Teeple  2:23 

Well, interestingly enough, we viewed ourself as a technology company since, really, since our foundation. Our namesake, John Deere, was an innovator himself and developed the world's first polished steel self-scouring plow that was able to really open up the West to agricultural advancement. And since then, Deere’s made important strategic investments in technology, like the acquisition of the Waterloo Gasoline Engine Company that allowed us to transition from horse-drawn equipment, to the

 

John Teeple  3:00 

engine and the tractor, to our acquisition of an NavCom Technology, where we acquired our GPS technology that's the heart of our self-driving and geospatial data for our data solutions. And most recently, the acquisition of Blue River Technology and continuing our foray into machine learning and computer vision and robotics. But Deere's just had a long history of innovation and really focused on helping farmers achieve the best possible outcomes on every pass of a John Deere machine over their fields. And we’ve really been a pioneer and emerging technologies, like advanced sensors and automation, the Internet of Things and our connected machines, and AI. And we're continuously making strides in this area through investments in cutting-edge technologies, and bringing those advanced technologies to market through John Deere equipment and technology solutions.

Tyler Suiters    3:50

Yeah, so let's hone in on some of those specific technology innovations, John, that you're dealing with, AI especially. It's what we would call a horizontal category perhaps at CES, in that it's touching virtually every sector, and so many companies and products that are shown there. The agriculture sector is no different. So how is AI being implemented through John Deere as a game changer in terms of advancing farming and agriculture writ large?

 

John Teeple  4:27 

Great question. You know, farming is a really complex business. If you think about a field, it's really an ecosystem in and of itself. A tremendous amount of actions and decisions being made every day across millions of acres with millions of plants. And to reach the maximum potential of their fields, farmers have to precisely manage each of these plants as they grow and the nutrients that are required to feed and protect those plants.

 

John Teeple  5:00 

John Deere equipment and technology helps farmers work with precision and make better decisions by seeing through computer vision, sensing through other advanced sensors, and then acting or actuating on levels beyond what a human or a farmer can do themselves. And in order to do that, we need incredibly smart, connected machines that convert all of that data being collected to control the actions through the use of artificial intelligence techniques, like machine learning and reinforcement learning. They do this by processing an enormous amount of data to make those real-time adjustments and recommendations on the machine. And the exciting thing about the capabilities is this new technology is that our machines are getting smarter over time. So individual machines are performing the job better than they've ever been able to do it. And now with machine learning, they're improving, and not only that, the network of connected machines are improving each other. So advanced sensors, computer

 

John Teeple  6:00 

vision, the connectivity of those machines, and machine learning along with the advanced robotics and automation on those machines, help farmers know what's happening with each seed, with each plant, with each machine and component of the machine. And these technologies allow the farmer to operate smarter, more efficiently, more productively, more precisely, and ultimately, more sustainably now as well.

 

Tyler Suiters    6:24

You know, as I hear that explanation, John, I think that when you talk about connectivity and smart vehicles and constant data collection and ensuing adjustments, you take out farming and agriculture, and I would think you just described self-driving vehicles, right? As a category and the benefits they deliver. Do you at John Deere see a strong parallel between self-driving vehicles as we know them, to the extent that they will be on the roads and we as consumers will embrace them and use them and never look back? Or is it distinct broadly, just for farming agriculture. Are they closely connected in your mind?

 

John Teeple  7:04 

There definitely are connections. I think most of society has really been hearing about self-driving cars in recent years. John Deere has been in the self-driving business for over 15 years, when we introduced our first self-driving machines, which are really based on a foundation of initially GPS information through our acquisition of NavCom Technology. But self-driving is really a standard in terms of large production agriculture. So as you're driving across major breadbaskets of the world, and you see large, green John Deere machines in the field, more than 90% of those machines are actually self-driving. They’re operating without human intervention during most of their operation in the field.

 

Tyler Suiters    7:51

So we, as consumers — the vehicles, the John Deere vehicles we see in the field today, John, 90% of them have the capability to be self-operational, self-driving?

 

John Teeple  8:05 

That's right; 90% of those machines, those large ag machines you're seeing, have GPS capabilities, including John Deere technology that we refer to internally as auto track, which is our self-driving capability. So all of those machines you see, most of those machines you see are self-driving capable. In most cases, they're probably operating in a hands-free mode.

Tyler Suiters    8:25

OK, now as helping me digest that is the fact that John Deere, as you just said, has been in this for 15 years now, since roughly 2003. I mean that, at least in the public sphere, predates where most, if not all, the tech sector has been on self-driving, at least publicly.

 

John Teeple  8:46 

It's really exciting. When we acquired NavCom Technology that produces the GPS that is the core of our self-driving capabilities, and that was in 1999. And we were actually working with the Department of Defense and NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab in the development of technologies that had never been applied to actual machine control. So we were using highly precise GPS technologies. And 10 to 15 years ago, in the development of these very first machines that were that were self-driving, that's really serve as the foundation of John Deere’s highly precise self-driving machine today.

 

Tyler Suiters    9:24

I assume you have a much different perspective, being in the heart of the Intelligent Solutions Group. And you see yourself as a tech solutionist, or an innovator, and you see John Deere as a technology company. Is that accurate? Or am I projecting on you a little bit here?

 

John Teeple  9:43 

No, we really are a technology company. The exciting thing about production agriculture is farmers are actually very innovative. And they're generally early adopters of technology, and Deere has found ourself in a position where we can we can lean in and lead throughout our hundred-and-80-plus-year history in the application of advanced technologies to agriculture. And as we think about a large agricultural machine, we're really not just moving people from point A to point B. Those machines in the field are complex factories on wheels. So the requirements for advanced sensors, automation, certainly high-speed connectivity to the cloud, and data sharing and capture and visualization, whether it be in the cab with the operator, or be on a mobile device or on a desktop, there are many connected partners supporting those farmers with the most advanced technologies in the world to really make agriculture more and more precise, to improve yields to support a growing global population, as well as to minimize the application of inputs to ensure that agriculture continues to be more and more sustainable and highly productive and ultimately impact the farmers’ bottom line.

Tyler Suiters    11:02

So John Deere is going to have a very visible presence at CES 2019. I know you will be out in front of your exhibition space talking to people. And you'll probably get a lot of reactions like mine were, which is, “Wait, wait. What? John Deere has been here how long?” and, “John Deere is it at CES?” Which is probably something to the extent of what you're looking for. But what is your strategy for engaging this very tech-centric, professional audience? And what are your plans going into CES 2019?

 

John Teeple  11:36 

Well, this is our first year at CES, and we're really excited about it. We're planning to make a big splash by bringing the farm to Las Vegas. So we're going to go big, and our booth is going to be located in the South Hall. We're going to be within the artificial intelligence section. We're really excited about being there, because attendees are going to have an opportunity to see a huge John Deere S700 combine harvester in the booth and have a chance to speak with some of our technology experts that are going to be there helping them better understand what we're doing with AI and connectivity and automation. And we're going to have undoubtedly the world's most advanced row crop tractor actually out in the self-driving lot. So in addition to cars, you're going to see a big green tractor out there demonstrating highly precise self-driving computer vision systems, and really getting to understand what we've been doing for the last 15 to 20 years and the application of technology to John Deere equipment.

 

Tyler Suiters    12:47

Yeah, so I could take that for another 30 minutes and just pinging you with questions, John, about those particular vehicles. But let me back out a little bit and ask you about a little bit more to your experience at CES. Yes, it is the most influential tech event on the planet. And we have not just virtually every sector, but the technologies are so myriad. What are the sectors, or the verticals, that you're focusing on when you're looking for answers, as well as where John Deere is heading? You mentioned AI, of course, but 5G and connectivity has to be key for you all given so many of your — the rural nature of agriculture. AR/VR, I'd imagined drones protect potentially for crop monitoring and protection. What are you looking for at CES across the other verticals while you're there?

 

John Teeple  13:38 

Great question. This is my third or fourth year attending CES personally. What I’ve found at CES is, it is one of the best places to really understand what's happening both from the consumer and, really, the industry perspective, with technology advancements. So technologies like 5G, and we mentioned connectivity and the importance of connectivity earlier. Since 2011, all of our large ag machines have come equipped with a 4G LTE modem, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth in the cab. But in many parts of not just North America, but the world, particularly in rural locations, high-bandwidth connectivity is a real challenge for us, due to lack of coverage. So we're definitely interested in where 5G may be today in urban settings and where we believe it's going to be able to go and how those technologies could advance rural access, as well as enable new precision ag capabilities on the farm. We're definitely interested in understanding what the tier-one automotive suppliers and some of those providing advanced sensors and automation technologies to support autonomous vehicles are doing. AR and VR, we're applying already in some applications, but definitely interested in in direction that things are heading ss we think about augmented reality and the impacts that it can have in agriculture. So there's a lot that we're engaging and absorbing in some adjacent industries to understand how some of those technologies that maybe we're not leveraging today could apply to agriculture.

Tyler Suiters    15:17

All right, let's leave it there, unfortunately for now, John, because we could go on for a long time, I'm sure. John Teeple with John Deere is director of advanced technology in the Intelligent Solutions Group based in Iowa. John, a pleasure to have you with us, and we'll see you coming up in Las Vegas.

 

John Teeple  15:35 

Thanks, Tyler. Look forward to seeing you there. And I would encourage all of your listeners that are going to be joining us at CES to visit our booth in the South Hall in the artificial intelligence section.

 

Tyler Suiters  15:48 

All right, I promise this is going to be a blast, because with us right now. He is Guive Balooch, Global Vice President for L'Oreal's technology incubator. Guive, first of all, it's great to have you with us. And second, I'm not surprised that L'Oreal is on a tech-related podcast. I imagine many people are, however, who are listening to us are surprised to hear L'Oreal so closely associated with the technology sector.

 

Guive Balooch  16:15 

Yeah, thanks a lot for having me. And I'm really excited to talk to you about our tech incubator. I'm also not surprised that some people may be a bit surprised about the fact that L'Oreal is running a technology team. But I hope by the end of the discussion that all of you will kind of have an idea about what our future is and what we think technology and beauty can really do for the consumer.

 

Tyler Suiters    16:39

Well, let's begin to beguine, if you don't mind. How did L'Oreal first get a real focus on technology as a key business strategy?

 

Guive Balooch  16:51 

Well, it's funny, I've been at the company now for about 13 years, 12 to 13 years. And about seven years ago, our CEO really started to think about what the intersection between beauty and technology would be for the future of our industry. And it was obvious that a lot of other industries were very much moving toward the direction of understanding the new consumer and how they're really, you know, around a lot more technology these days, which will essentially change and really move us to another level when it comes to even our beauty consumers. So my job was kind of to think about what could be some projects and products that we could create that would bring that intersection between technology and beauty together. And that was kind of the beginning, seven years ago, around how we created this team.

 

Tyler Suiters    17:45

Now I want to be clear to everyone who's listening: Guive has a PhD in this sector. This is L'Oreal taking it seriously. This is not just a whim, right, to try this out. So you are on board, Guive, and now there is a technology incubator. That's a pretty serious commitment. Can you talk a little bit about the scope of the incubator, and also some of the successes you've seen there at L'Oreal?

 

Guive Balooch  18:11 

Sure, yeah. So we started, as I said, about six to seven years ago. And now it's grown to about 35 people worldwide. So I have really a unique and diverse team. So the team goes from people that understand data science, or have backgrounds and data science, to you know design, to PhDs, to physicists, but also engineers and UX designers and, kind of — the whole goal was to mix as many people that have different backgrounds together and manage projects in between where the consumer tension is and where technology can provide something new for that tension. So some examples of our projects: So our first project we brought to market about five years ago, four to five years ago with Makeup Genius.

Guive Balooch  19:01

So it's an app that we worked on, technology we worked on which uses real-time augmented reality to show makeup. And the idea on that at that time, four years ago, seems like in the technology field it was like 100 years ago, where we had, you know, our iPhone 4s and 5s where front-facing cameras were yet developed to a point where you could compute lots of really AR at the level we can today. And so we were able to, kind of, work with an external partner to bring the first real-time makeup, you know, augmented reality system to the consumer. So that was our first launch. And it really met the need that consumers have so many options today, and how can technology allow them to choose the right option without having to buy it to try it. So that was our first one. And then we started really thinking about every year what could be new real innovations around the

 

Guive Balooch  20:00 

intersection between technology, design and beauty. And so we started working a lot on personalization. So we, we created two projects, one, which is called Le Teint Particulier. So it's a French phrase, and even I am still learning how to say that perfectly, with our brand Lancome. And the need there is that 50% of women can’t find the right shade of foundation. And it's absolutely

 

Guive Balooch  20:30 

needed to use things like technology when you have way more shades than you have access to supply chain and product. So our project there was, kind of, developing a machine which uses an algorithm that we wrote, from the team, that takes the measurement of the skin tone and makes out of 20,000 options that perfect shade of foundation. And this really was our next step into kind of moving toward providing technology and design to our consumers

 

Guive Balooch  21:00 

but ensuring we solve really some difficult challenges when it comes to expectations in the beauty world today. So we did that and then we expanded that and launched at South by Southwest a skin version of that with our brand SkinSuitable so around the dermatologists and being able to give the perfect serum with all the right actives in it. And our most recent launch has been a lot of work we've done on wearable technologies the past few years with our collaboration with Northwestern University. And it's a UV sensor called My Skin Track UV. And we're really excited about it because we unveiled that at CES this year, so 2018 CES. And we have we just brought it to market about a month ago at Apple. And so we're really excited that we were able to bring that to the Apple store, and it's

 

Guive Balooch  22:00 

the world's first battery-free wearable. And the goal of that is to really give people information and education about UV with a way that really focuses on design elements that make a wearable much more user-friendly, like not needing to charge it and it being small enough to put anywhere on the body. And knowing that today melanoma is on the rise, we really felt that we needed to develop technology around that expectation of our consumers. So we have, you know, new projects every week, every year kind of focused on that bridge between technology and beauty.

 

Tyler Suiters    22:35

So it sounds like, Guive, there's also something of a delineation at L'Oreal between beauty and health itself. And that the first two examples you just cited we're very much in the beauty sector of technology, enhancing the experience for consumers who are examining products and considering buying. But then it sounds like there's a real shift toward the health sector when you're dealing with wearables and actual skin care and treatment and prevention of challenges and other issues.

 

Guive Balooch  23:11 

Yeah, I think, you know, what's really happening these days is, really, there is still a distinct, you know, kind of line between health and beauty, but that real like health, wellness, lifestyle, it's all becoming part of the beauty experience as well, in a very kind of inspirational way. Meaning that today when we see this kind of precision medicine and this idea that health is moving more toward the idea of people being able to access, through information that they have on themselves, the right amount of their product. We have the same kind of inspiration in the beauty industry, where there's so many problems that can be solved if people can have access to their beauty information. And a lot of that tends to be things that, you know, people aren't aware of today, like the amount of UV rays

 

Guive Balooch  24:00 

that they are actually receiving on a day-to-day basis. And also, beyond that  even in the color cosmetics field it could be just around getting the right product and having a more precise product that is either chosen in a way where people have really the right information about themselves or tailor made for them. And I think that opens a lot of doors into what beauty tech it really is and what it can provide to the future.

 

Tyler Suiters    24:27

Well look, I love hearing about your product launch here at CES, and remember the launch from 2018. What about the upcoming show? 2019, what does L'Oreal have planned both for marketing exposure, engagement? What's on your mind as you head into the upcoming show?

 

Guive Balooch   24:48 

Well, you know we're very excited about 2019, so I'm going to try my best not to get myself in trouble by giving too much information.

 

Tyler Suiters    24:56  

Point noted, Guive. Got it.

 

Guive Balooch   25:00

So we're quite excited about this year as well. So you know our commitment in technology has always been a couple of points that's really important to us. First is, we always want to come out with something which, even just outside of the beauty industry, is an interesting technology innovation and that requires a lot of our commitment and work with our external partners, people like Northwestern University and some of these, you know, great partners we have. And also, obviously, our consistent commitment to design and ensuring that we develop beautiful experiences and products. And on top of that, I think just alluding to your previous comment that, you know, more and more we find that this, kind of, link between important information for the consumer through connectivity and through some data and some of the devices that we can come to provide to them allows us an ability to provide a, kind of, new experience a new level of performance for the product itself.

 

Guive Balooch    26:00 

So we're looking into, you know, coming into 2019 with something hopefully just as exciting as we had the last CES around this, kind of, link between the evolution of the skin and how we can help consumers understand new avenues and to how to get the best products based on their actual skin itself.

 

Tyler Suiters    26:20

What about you, Guive, personally as the global vice president of your tech incubator. You very much have to understand, and in some ways anticipate, emerging technologies. You talked about your use of AR for early L'Oreal tech adoption, data analysis. I assume that AI is something that has you excited. But what other major ingredient technologies are you looking at to adapt for the incubator and further leverage across the L'Oreal product line?

 

Guive Balooch    26:56 

Yeah, it's you know, I'm, I'm constantly — I actually have a wonderful job to be, you know, to say it as humbly as possible, but I really do have this incredible job. I wake up every day, and I'm really passionate about where we can take technology and beauty. Because first of all, our consumer in the beauty industry is constantly evolving has many, many high expectations. And we have to find ways to deliver those expectations around the level of performance of their products and ensuring they have the right, you know, regimens and products for them. And so for that reason, there's so many avenues where we could use science and tech around — all the way from color to understanding skin to, you know, developing a product that works better, you know, with or without devices. And so, like, I'm able to have really a large scope of

 

Guive Balooch     27:50 

excitement around the technology world. That being said, I think you can get lost in that. I've learned the past six years, Ican get lost in that very quickly. So our focus

 

Guive Balooch    28:00 

has very much been on, first, understanding the major consumer attentions. What are the things that today consumers really want that, without technology, it's difficult to provide. And in finding them the right, you know, blocks of text around the world that allow us to give it to them. So, you know, I have incredible collaborators around the world, doing things like I did with Northwestern on battery-free wearables, all the way to micro electronics to data to, like you said, people doing AI and also our own internal teams. And so what we do is we really start with intention and we say, which one of these new emerging techs can help us to develop something spectacular, not just in terms of tech innovation, but also in the need, and the design that we provide in the end for the consumer. So I've been very lucky to have this incredible team that’s able to bridge all those three. And so being able to have that, and also having access

 

Guive Balooch    29:00 

to so many smart and intelligent people outside of our field as well as inside, keeps me really excited every day about this job.

 

Tyler Suiters    29:07

L'Oreal's technology incubator is a great example of the fact that every company today is or needs to be a tech company. Guive Balooch is global vice president of L'Oreal's tech incubator and, Guive, a great time today. Thanks so much. And we will see you very soon in Las Vegas.

 

Guive Balooch    29:25

Thank you so much. Can't wait to see you all in Vegas.

 

Tyler Suiters    29:31 

All right, coming up next time on CES Tech Talk, we're addressing an emerging technology that is at this intersection where both consumers and commercial businesses are very excited and they're incorporating all the benefits this involves. And it's enjoying exponential popularity. We're talking about the drone sector, a sector that CTA predicts will exceed $1 billion in revenue here in the US in 2018.

Brandon Schulman, Vice President of Policy and Legal Affairs, DJI  29:58

I'm really excited about ways that we're seeing drones being used, not just in commercial and consumer applications, but in public safety.

 

Tyler Suiters    30:07 

We are here to help you get CES ready, so make sure you subscribe to the CES Tech Talk podcast. That way you won't miss any of our episodes as we prep you up to the Big Show. Speaking of CES 2019, January 8-11 in Las Vegas. The info you need to get ready is at CES.tech. As always, none of this is possible without our true superstars: Tina Anthony is our producer, John Lindsey is our engineer, and you are both the best. As for you, really glad you're with us today. I'm Tyler Suiters. Let's talk tech again soon.

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