Too hot to swim.
That’s how you’re editor described the heatwave crossing the southwest.
It hit 122 degrees this weekend in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Even the “dry heat” is still 122 degrees.
It was pretty bad. No one did anything. No going out. No hiking. No anything.
However, there was a silver lining.
I got a chance to catch up on what the world’s most innovative company is placing its bets on for the future.
America’s Most Innovative Company
Whenever I want to get an idea for a big, long-term trend, I look to Corning (GLW).
Corning was an early leader in incandescent light bulbs more than a century ago.
It also developed some of the most effective headlights to allow cars to drive safely at night.
It made its first major research and development investment in fiber optic cables in 1970. It’s still a leader today.
It was the leading innovator of LCD technology and was the main driver of putting flat screen technology everywhere.
The company is the maker of the high-strength, ultra-translucent glass used in smartphones today too.
Behind most major trends, you’ll see Corning technology allowing it to happen or making it a little bit better.
It’s been a heck of a run for the company and it’s still working on the next growth opportunities too.
The record-breaking heat gave me an extra few hours to give a read of the company’s latest annual report to see where it’s betting next.
The answer wasn’t too surprising.
America’s Next Major Growth Markets
Corning has three early stage investments that really caught my eye.
Corning has been growing its portfolio of biotech-related glass technology.
The leading and most interesting product here is antimicrobial glass.
There’s a marketing angle to this for iPhone users (lately it seems Apple’s pretty desperate for any type of innovation, regardless of how small, to encourage upgrades).
There’s also a biotech research angle too. That’s where the real money is after the hundreds of billions of dollars raised for research in the biotech bubble.
#2: Flexible glass:
You probably saw the hype around full flexible phones.
Maybe you wondered what the purpose was.
I sure did.
It turns out the flexible glass screen has unlimited applications in the rapidly-unfolding Internet of Things growth story.
#3: Wireless Networking:
This is the big one.
A couple years ago Corning acquired an Israeli wireless antenna company.
It has since been incorporating the tech which came along with the deal into an end-to-end solution for enterprise wireless networks.
We’ve talked about the surging demand for data (especially wireless data) in the past.
It’s set to grow many times over in the next couple years and potentially create some major bottlenecks in the process.
Corning is targeting this opportunity as well.
Ahead Of The Curve
In the end, I’m half glad for the heatwave.
Most everyone I know is watching technology with more fear than excitement.
Things are changing and changing fast. Robotics, artificial intelligence, and many other technological developments are going to change the world massively in the next few years.
There will be great risk and equally great opportunity for all.
By watching the smartest companies in the world which are always ahead of the curve by a couple years, we’ll make sure we’re on the opportunity side instead of the risks side of it all.