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Apple Drone Fleet to Gather Maps Data
December 2, 2016
Apple reportedly has assembled a group of robotics and data-collection experts who will use drones to obtain data for updates to its Maps app. Apple, Google and others in the cartography space currently collect a lot of their data using motor vehicles equipped with high-tech gear. "That's a very expensive and time-consuming process," said Sam Abuelsamid, an analyst at Navigant Research.
Here's Looking at You, Alexa
November 30, 2016
Amazon is developing a premium version of its Alexa-powered Echo speaker, which will have a 7-inch touchscreen, in a bid to stave off competition from Google and other companies developing rival offerings, Bloomberg reported Tuesday. Designed for use in the kitchen, the new device would have an upward-tilting touchscreen that would permit a user to swipe controls from a standing position.
How AI Could End Stupid Thanksgiving Arguments
November 28, 2016
I'm writing this before Thanksgiving, which I used to hate and now don't -- largely because I no longer spend the day arguing with family. I've been listening to a lot of friends and relatives dread this year's event because of political discussions that are likely to occur, and the equally annoying comments and critiques from those who supported both candidates.
Gadget Ogling: Big Bendy Screens, Chatterbox Robots, and TV in the Cloud
November 22, 2016
I'm at long last about to start setting up my new home office. Goodbye, Ikea dining table. Hello, fancy new desk. When I actually have my new setup, I'd like to have a monitor at long last to complement my laptop. AOC's latest is under serious consideration. The AG352QCX is a 35-inch, curved behemoth with two USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI 2.0 input, VGA, DVI, audio in and out ports, and DisplayPort 1.2.
One of the Best New VR Things: Buying a Car
November 21, 2016
I had a fascinating experience last week. I got to see and experience the new Jaguar I-Pace, the company's electric answer to the as-yet-unannounced Tesla Y SUV. I didn't just get to see the car -- I got to understand intimately why the car was created and what went into its design. I got to experience aspects of the vehicle viscerally, without actually getting into it.
GoPro's Drone Initiative Crashes With Karma Recall
November 18, 2016
GoPro's ambitious plans to be a player in the fledgling drone market crashed last week when it had to announce a product recall due to Karma UAV units falling from the sky. The company needed to resolve a performance issue related to loss of power during operation, it said. It indicated it would resume shipment of Karma at some point, but didn't suggest when.
First Hyperloop Could Blaze a Trail Between Dubai and Abu Dhabi
November 12, 2016
Hyperloop One, which aims to fulfill the vision of high-speed transportation promoted by Elon Musk, has signed a deal to develop a line between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates. The project reportedly will have several stations throughout Dubai connecting the hyperloop system to Abu Dhabi. Pods will carry passengers and cargo between the two.
Daydream Believers May Boost VR, Suggest Early Reviews
November 10, 2016
Reviews for Google's Daydream View VR headset began to appear on Thursday, and the consensus among those who were able to test the new US$79 device appears to be two thumbs up. Although it has limitations, Daydream could be a gateway to affordable virtual reality technology, they suggested. The headset needs to be paired with Google's new line of Pixel and Pixel XL phones.
Samsung's Next Galaxy Phone Could Have Siri-Like Smarts
November 9, 2016
Samsung Electronics this week revealed plans to unveil its flagship Galaxy S8 mobile phone with a new digital assistant powered by AI. The assistant will be based on technology gained with Samsung's recent acquisition of Viv Labs. The plans call for Samsung to incorporate the AI into its family of electronics and appliances, ranging from mobile devices to wearable technology and home devices.
Microsoft Sees 3D Future for Everyone
November 3, 2016
Microsoft last week unveiled its new vision for bringing 3D to the masses through a modernized version of its Paint application for Windows 10. Paint 3D will be available in the Windows 10 Creators Update. Anyone who would like to start creating and sharing in Paint 3D can do so by joining the Windows Insider Program -- available for PC and Phone -- the company said.
MIT's Nightmare Machine Churns Out AI-Generated Horror
October 31, 2016
In honor of Halloween, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab launched the Nightmare Machine website, which allows visitors to vote on AI-generated horror images created via an open source deep neural network algorithm developed last year. Scientists from the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization collaborated on the project.
Microsoft Open Sources AI Toolkit
October 28, 2016
Microsoft has released an updated version of its Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit as an open source Beta. The deep learning system is used to speed advances in areas such as speech and image recognition and search relevance on CPUs and Nvidia GPUs. It also works with Microsoft's Azure GPU offering. The toolkit's developers initially were looking for a tool to speed up and improve their own research.
IBM's Watson Smartens Up iOS Enterprise Apps
October 27, 2016
IBM has announced that it will incorporate its IBM Watson cognitive capabilities into the MobileFirst for iOS ecosystem to help boost the productivity of the global workforce. It was a little more than two years ago that the company entered a groundbreaking partnership with Apple to enhance the mobile enterprise space. The move is part of an overall rollout of enhancements to IBM's Watson tech.
Microsoft's New Tech Targets Human Creativity
October 27, 2016
Microsoft made a slew of announcements at its New York City event Wednesday, focusing on the idea of user as creator. Among its new offerings: the Surface Studio, an all-in-one desktop computer with a touchscreen that's 12.5mm thick; the Surface Dial, a new input device that provides haptic feedback; the Surface Book i7; VR headsets for Windows 10; and a revamped Paint app with 3D capability.
Gadget Ogling: Magnificent Mics, Intriguing E-Ink, and Compact Computers
October 26, 2016
I've tried dipping my toes into the world of podcasting with a friend this year. We haven't found it easy to get together to record, but for the two trial runs we've had, I bought a Blue Snowball mic. I'm very pleased with the sound quality, so I'm fairly certain I'd be happy to have Blue's latest microphone, Raspberry. It's a gorgeous, portable little thing.
Why Large Companies Can't Innovate
October 24, 2016
One of the things that has made Dell World very different is that at the end, one or more controversial speakers take the stage and provide an incredible amount of insight for the folks who haven't left early. All three of the last three speeches were fascinating, but it wasn't until I wove them together that it became clear to me why innovation seems to evaporate the larger a company becomes.
Tesla: Everyone Gets a Self-Driving Car
October 21, 2016
Tesla on Wednesday announced plans to install hardware that will allow all of its cars to become driverless. The equipment will enable self-driving at a safety level substantially greater than human-driven cars, according to the company. The hardware includes eight cameras to provide 360-degree visibility; 12 ultrasonic sensors to detect hard and soft objects; and forward-facing radar.
Microsoft AI Beats Humans at Speech Recognition
October 20, 2016
Microsoft's Artificial Intelligence and Research Unit earlier this week reported that its speech recognition technology had surpassed the performance of human transcriptionists. The team last month published a paper describing its system's accuracy, said to be superior to that of IBM's famed Watson artificial intelligence.
AI and Customer Loyalty
October 19, 2016
AI and machine learning have taken the industry by storm. Some say they will usher in a new age of better business processes and customer orientation, while others fret that automation will kill jobs. There definitely will be jobs that no longer make sense for humans to do, thanks to automation. However, there are some neglected business processes where AI and ML could make real contributions.
Microsoft Adds Muscle to Dynamics 365
October 18, 2016
Microsoft last week shared new information about its upcoming Dynamics 365 cloud service: the addition of 100 new apps; the inclusion of Solution Integrator partners in Appsource; the division of apps and features into Enterprise and Business Editions, the latter for SMBs; and a new subscription model. Many of the new capabilities will be available in both editions on Nov. 1.
Fake News Taints Facebook's Trending Topics
October 15, 2016
Facebook's Trending Topics section recently has carried a number of trending stories that were either "indisputably fake" or "profoundly inaccurate," according to a report this week. The news feed six weeks ago ran a false story claiming Fox News had fired anchor Megyn Kelly for being a closet liberal who supported Hillary Clinton. Facebook removed the story, apologized, and promised to do better.
Aviso CEO K.V. Rao: Humans, Machines and Magic
October 14, 2016
"CRM is a mature industry, but it's fundamentally not moving the needle for the user, for the subscriber -- the sales rep or manager. It's fundamentally recording your activities, but it doesn't really let you commit with confidence to drive the right outcomes," said Aviso CEO K.V. Rao. Predictive analytics "can help you find the right content faster. That's what the state-of-the art is for sales.
Gadget Ogling: Google Embraces a Hardware Future
October 12, 2016
The first smartphones Google has made by itself, Pixel and Pixel XL, are the first to bear Android 7.1 and the first to have the impressive Google Assistant built in. The Pixel has a 5-inch HD screen, while the Pixel XL offers a 5.5-inch QHD display. The phones have a quad-core processor and 4 GB of RAM. I like that the fingerprint sensor is on the back.
Tech Heavyweights Join Forces to Lasso AI
October 12, 2016
Amazon, DeepMind/Google, Facebook, IBM and Microsoft last month announced the creation of the Partnership on AI, a nonprofit organization dedicated to formulating best practices in artificial intelligence and educating the public about the field. The group will invite academics, other nonprofits, and specialists in policy and ethics to join its board.
AI's Moment
October 7, 2016
There recently has been an increase in the talk -- pro and con -- about bots, AI and intelligent assistants. A lot of this talk has been percolating around the industry for decades. Silicon Collar, a book by Vinnie Mirchandani, a friend and truly gifted analyst, accepts that automation might be eliminating jobs, but it optimistically holds out for the silver lining.
Nevada Issues Historic License to Paralyzed Race Car Driver
October 7, 2016
The state of Nevada last week issued paralyzed former Indy driver Sam Schmidt a license to drive a specially made autonomous vehicle, equipped with a series of high-tech sensors and other equipment that will allow him to operate it with head motions, voice commands and breathing techniques. The license allows Schmidt to operate the Arrow SAM car alongside regular passenger traffic.
Google: There's No Hub Like Home
October 6, 2016
Google on Tuesday officially launched Google Home, its long-awaited wireless hub. Google Home is an interactive personal assistant and entertainment center that takes full advantage of the company's deep advantages in Web search, AI and machine learning. Google's vision is to place a customized version of its Google Assistant technology into the hands of every customer.
Dreamforce's Einstein: First Shot in New Sales Tech Arms Race?
October 6, 2016
A technology conference staple is the over-the-horizon announcement: a proclamation that something that isn't quite here yet is the next big thing, often accompanied by simulated screen shots, hypothetical use cases and fantastic demonstrations. This year's Dreamforce announcement of a machine learning-enabled technology called "Einstein" easily could be dismissed as futureware.
IoT Could Become Playground for Botnets Gone Wild
October 6, 2016
The source code for Mirai, the malware behind the botnet that launched a massive attack on the Krebs on Security website -- the largest DDoS attack on record -- has been released in the wild, according to Brian Krebs. A hacker who goes by the handle "Anna-senpai," apparently because of increased scrutiny from the cybersec industry, last week announced the release on Hackforums, Krebs said.
Google Plasters Its Name on a New Hardware Collection
October 5, 2016
Google on Tuesday unveiled a new smartphone and home hub that squarely aim at products from market leaders Apple and Amazon. The company's new branded smartphone, called "Pixel," marks a departure from past efforts. Up to now, Google's Nexus phones were made by a variety of manufacturers that sold them under their brands. "Google is trying to position itself as a complete supplier," said ABI Research analyst Jeff Orr.
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