CES 2017: Distinguishing Between Machine Learning and AI

As predicted, artificial intelligence has been one of the most repeated phrases of CES 2017. It seems every other vendor here is slapping the “AI” label on its technology. So much so that it inspired us to take a (short) step back and look at what AI is in relation to machine learning. The reality is: there are still very few applications that can be legitimately labeled as artificial intelligence. Self-driving cars, DeepMind’s AlphaGo, Hanson Robotics’ Sophia robot, and to a lesser extent Alexa, Siri and the Google Assistant, are all AI applications. Most of the rest, and certainly most of what we’ve seen here at CES, are robust, well productized machine learning applications (usually built on neural network architectures), often marketed as AI. Continue reading CES 2017: Distinguishing Between Machine Learning and AI

Bluewave Showcases GET: 24-Bit Hi-Fi Headphone Amplifier

During CES, Montreal-based Bluewave privately showed the first Bluetooth aptX HD wireless headphone amplifier. The high-powered, high-fidelity, 24-bit portable solution allows any standard headset to receive near wired quality of the new aptX HD methodology. It also features an onboard MEMS microphone to add telephone conversations to a favorite production headset with the added boost of Bluetooth portability. The $100 GET is truly portable and ultra-compact (45mm x 22mm x 10mm) and weighs only 30 grams. Continue reading Bluewave Showcases GET: 24-Bit Hi-Fi Headphone Amplifier

Microsoft Brings Cortana to Nissan, Amazon Signs Ford Deal

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn delivered a CES keynote that addressed the company’s goal to integrate Microsoft tech into its automobiles. Nissan’s connected vehicles will use Microsoft programs including the Cortana voice assistant, Dynamics, Office 365, Power BI and Skype for Business. Microsoft is launching a new Connected Vehicle Platform based on its Azure cloud platform, and the Renault-Nissan alliance will be the first automotive partner for the tech giant’s new initiative. The move comes during increased competition in automotive tech; Amazon, for example, is looking to get its virtual assistant Alexa into cars and just announced a deal with Ford. Continue reading Microsoft Brings Cortana to Nissan, Amazon Signs Ford Deal

First Impressions of CES 2017: Where is All the Data Going?

CES is always a data scientist’s nightmare, and this year is no different. Why? It’s simple. The hardware vision we’re being served (24/7 connection with everything) immediately triggers one critical question: Where will all this data go? How will this comically fragmented data be integrated in a way that creates value for your lives, our families, our organizations? The central conundrum of wearables and IoT, which we see nowhere here, is that the firehose of data created by these devices can only create value if merged together in a way that’s (a) central, (b) safe, and (c) relevant to our lives. Emphasis on (c), of course. Continue reading First Impressions of CES 2017: Where is All the Data Going?

CTA Breaks Down Worldwide CE Trends by Product Category

The Consumer Technology Association and market researcher GfK annually join forces on a comprehensive report on Global Consumer Technology Spending Forecasts, with CTA responsible for U.S. domestic data and GfK for data from over 70 countries around the world. CTA senior director of market research Steve Koenig shed light on the report’s results, revealing that a mere seven products are responsible for about 80 percent of global consumer tech spending: tablets, laptops, TVs, standard handsets, smartphones, digital cameras and desktops. Continue reading CTA Breaks Down Worldwide CE Trends by Product Category

Apple Experiences Strong Holiday Sales Numbers for iPhone 7

Analytics service Mixpanel reports that Apple had a decent holiday season, as more iPhone 7 devices were sold than Google Pixel smartphones. During the first few days following Christmas, iPhone 7 numbers “increased by 12.7 percent, compared with an 8.5 percent increase for Google’s newest flagship,” explains TechCrunch. “And when comparing iOS to Android devices in general — including phones, tablets, and iPods — more new Apple devices were switched on … after Christmas than Android devices.” Apple devices had the most global activations leading up to Christmas, while Samsung came in second. The number of “Apple Watches increased by 8.9 percent … the first three days after Christmas,” but “that’s down from 18.6 percent during the same time last year.” Continue reading Apple Experiences Strong Holiday Sales Numbers for iPhone 7

Mobile Gamers Spent Nearly $1 Billion Last Week of December

Marking the biggest week of the year for mobile games, research firm Sensor Tower reports that sales of game apps between Christmas and New Year’s Day jumped 53 percent over the same period last year. “Smartphone and tablet users spent a record $967.6 million on game apps for iOS and Android devices,” notes The Wall Street Journal. “Two factors typically goose spending during the week: mobile devices given as gifts, and people off from work and school who have free time to load up on apps.” Additionally, game developers typically introduce “discounts and special holiday-timed events during the week.” According to Newzoo, mobile is now the largest slice of the $100 billion video game pie. Continue reading Mobile Gamers Spent Nearly $1 Billion Last Week of December

Foxconn to Build Flat Panel Factory and Make Advanced LCDs

Terry Gou, chairman of Foxconn Technology Group, announced plans to build an $8.8 billion flat panel TV factory in Guangzhou, China, where the Taiwanese company will manufacture advanced liquid-crystal displays with tech from Sharp Corp. (Foxconn acquired the Japanese electronics brand in 2016). The investment “will be made by Sakai Display Products Corp., which is mostly owned by Gou personally,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “Gou has sometimes taken on riskier investments for Foxconn under his personal portfolio, saying it was safer for Foxconn shareholders. The new Guangzhou facility is expected to begin production of 10.5-generation 8K displays, smart TVs and electronic whiteboards in 2019.” Continue reading Foxconn to Build Flat Panel Factory and Make Advanced LCDs

Snap Preps for IPO Roadshow, Touting Spiegel as a Visionary

This year Snap Inc. will go on a roadshow to market its expected IPO, and founder Evan Spiegel is expected to play an out-sized role, with the company’s IPO bankers and executives depicting him as a Steve Jobs-like visionary for millennial products. The goal is to portray Snap as a company that will become a media/content behemoth that can meet and exceed its hoped-for $20 billion to $25 billion IPO valuation, in a class with Apple and Facebook, rather than Twitter, which has deflated since its 2013 IPO. Continue reading Snap Preps for IPO Roadshow, Touting Spiegel as a Visionary

CES 2017: An Argument for Opacity in Our Next Technologies

As noted by Bolter and Grusin in their seminal work Remediation: Understanding New Media, there is a trend towards transparency of the supports that underlie media content. For example, consider the current obsession with grinding down smartphone bezels so that all that remains is a gleaming, five-inch window into the world of “Angry Birds.” Or, look to the excitement of panel manufacturers who boast of new color spaces, dynamic ranges, and resolutions. Virtual reality presents the possible apotheosis of this kind of mediation: a technology where content has no borders, instead utilizing the totality of one’s senses, the net cast by its content so wide that the machinery which deploys it becomes eclipsed. Continue reading CES 2017: An Argument for Opacity in Our Next Technologies

Comcast Signs Deals with Four Studios to Offer Movie Extras

Comcast inked deals with Universal Pictures (which it owns), Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures and Sony Pictures Entertainment for “movie extras” to accompany those studios’ film titles. The cable company, which will offer a free sample of the enhanced extras during the 10 days leading up to Christmas, says it is working on adding more studios and movies in the coming year. With the extra content, Comcast hopes to better compete with other digital movie providers, including Apple, which added extra content two years ago. Continue reading Comcast Signs Deals with Four Studios to Offer Movie Extras

Nintendo Releases Super Mario Franchise on iPhones, iPads

Nintendo is finally releasing its super-popular Super Mario franchise to iPhones and iPads. Although the Super Mario games have been available on Nintendo portable devices since the early 1980s, this marks the first time that the company has released them to mobile devices made by another company, in this case Apple. With more than a half-billion copies sold since he first appeared in “Donkey Kong” in 1981, the iconic mustachioed plumber is believed to be the best-selling game franchise ever. Continue reading Nintendo Releases Super Mario Franchise on iPhones, iPads

CES Will Showcase Differential Privacy for Autonomous Living

At CES 2017, Honda’s theme will be a “cooperative mobility ecosystem,” a confluence of last year’s two showstoppers: autonomous driving and the rise of artificial intelligence. These arenas could foster mass adoption of differential privacy. Data aggregation is critical to the success of autonomous driving, and the AI-centric, newly coined notion of autonomous living, but this collection requires user buy-in. With nearly half of all Internet users expressing that privacy and security concerns are limiting their use of the Internet, new means of protecting user data will be a key theme throughout CES. Continue reading CES Will Showcase Differential Privacy for Autonomous Living

Alphabet’s Waymo Driverless Vehicle Unit Partners With Fiat

Alphabet just spun off its research lab X’s autonomous vehicle project into a separate company named Waymo, to be led by chief executive John Krafcik. The move means the company believes its driverless car technology is nearing readiness for commercialization, due to advancements in sensor technology and breakthroughs in machine learning. Although Alphabet was an early leader in this field, the company has struggled to build a business around the technology, as Tesla, Uber and GM have moved forward. Alphabet is working with Fiat Chrysler on a ride-sharing service to launch next year. Continue reading Alphabet’s Waymo Driverless Vehicle Unit Partners With Fiat

CES: From Learning to Thinking Machines – the AI Explosion

Artificial Intelligence is finally here. After nearly 50 years in the doldrums of research, the science of designing “thinking machines” has jumped from academic literature to the lab, and even from the lab to the store. This is largely because its precursor, machine learning, has been enjoying a dramatic revival, thanks in part to the commoditization of sensors and large-scale compute architectures, the explosion of available data (necessary to train advanced machine learning architectures such as recurrent neural networks), and the always burning necessity for tech companies to find something new. We expect AI to have a significant presence at next month’s CES in Las Vegas. Continue reading CES: From Learning to Thinking Machines – the AI Explosion

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