Tech Demand for AI Talent Generates Major League Salaries

As tech companies continue to bet on artificial intelligence powering next generation smartphones, autonomous vehicles, virtual assistants, smart home gadgets and much more, the demand for top AI talent is also on the rise. “Typical AI specialists, including both PhDs fresh out of school and people with less education and just a few years of experience, can be paid from $300,000 to $500,000 a year or more in salary and company stock,” reports The New York Times. Leading names in AI are often earning in the millions from tech titans and negotiating for new contracts in a time frame that rivals professional athletes. In fact, some in Silicon Valley have joked of creating an NFL-like salary cap. Continue reading Tech Demand for AI Talent Generates Major League Salaries

CTA: 170 Million to Purchase Tech Gifts This Holiday Season

According to the Consumer Technology Association, 170 million people (68 percent of U.S. adults) plan to purchase tech gifts this holiday shopping season. While the CTA’s annual report indicates tech spending is expected to only increase 1 percent to $96.8 billion during Q4, it still represents a new record following a strong 2016. “On the surface, it sounds pretty weak, but we saw 3.8 percent holiday growth in 2016,” said Steve Koenig, CTA’s senior director of market research. “That’s a tough act to follow. It’s hard to post 3 percent to 4 percent growth rates year after year.” Headphones, drones, VR headsets, 4K TVs, laptops and smartphones are among the products predicted to be top-sellers. Continue reading CTA: 170 Million to Purchase Tech Gifts This Holiday Season

Voice Shopping: Target Expands its Partnership With Google

Target announced that it is expanding its partnership with Google to cover a number of initiatives: consumers will be able to shop Target via Google Express home delivery (including by voice), Target’s REDcard payment card will be integrated into Google’s shopping platform, and new support for store pick-ups of purchases made through voice will be introduced. Amazon’s biggest rival Walmart announced in August that it would also team with Google for voice-based shopping efforts. The moves could help Google Home compete with Amazon’s Alexa-powered smart speakers. Continue reading Voice Shopping: Target Expands its Partnership With Google

Amazon Launches Alexa on Music Apps to Attract New Users

Amazon, ranked third in streaming music, launched virtual assistant Alexa on its Amazon Music apps this week to better compete with No. 1 provider Spotify and No. 2-ranked Apple. Amazon Music will provide a button which users can push to access Alexa “play” commands that will work as they do on Echo. Amazon determined that Alexa is now the primary way that users listen to Amazon Music. Competitor Apple offers its virtual assistant Siri on Apple Music. Meanwhile, Google has decided to stop supporting the Amazon Echo Show on YouTube. Continue reading Amazon Launches Alexa on Music Apps to Attract New Users

Sony, Harman Kardon and JBL Debut New Smart Speakers

At the Berlin trade show IFA this year, manufacturers showed smart speakers that incorporate voice assistants from Amazon and Google. Sony debuted its LF-S50G, one of the first third-party products, including Google Assistant and offering 360-degree sound and a digital clock, due out in December for $200. Another rival is the $250 Harman Kardon Allure, which offers Amazon’s Alexa and features ambient lighting that keeps the music’s beat. In addition, JBL’s new LINK series features three wireless speakers with Google Assistant and Chromecast support. Continue reading Sony, Harman Kardon and JBL Debut New Smart Speakers

Amazon, Microsoft Partner to Connect Their Voice Assistants

In a competitive landscape, Amazon and Microsoft are forming a rare partnership to enable communication between their respective voice assistants, Alexa and Cortana. This will allow users to summon Cortana using Alexa and vice versa, by the end of 2017. Chief executives Jeff Bezos and Satya Nadella made the move because of their concern that keeping digital assistants in a walled garden could hold back their progress, and that, by facilitating communication between them, end users could enjoy each one’s unique strengths. Continue reading Amazon, Microsoft Partner to Connect Their Voice Assistants

CTA Report: CE Industry Growth Is ‘Exceeding Expectations’

The Consumer Technology Association forecasts 3.2 percent growth for the U.S. CE industry this year, for a total estimated $321 billion in retail revenue. For the first time, drones, OLED TV and virtual reality tech are predicted to surpass the $1 billion revenue milestone, according to CTA’s latest “U.S. Consumer Technology Sales and Forecasts” report. Smart home devices, wearables, 4K TVs and voice-controlled digital assistants are among the categories projected to experience significant increases. “Revenue growth in the consumer technology industry is exceeding expectations,” said Gary Shapiro, CTA president and CEO. Continue reading CTA Report: CE Industry Growth Is ‘Exceeding Expectations’

Samsung and Alibaba Join the Digital Assistant Speaker Race

According to sources, Samsung Electronics is integrating its digital assistant Bixby into a voice-activated speaker, in a project dubbed “Vega” that has been ongoing for more than a year. Competition is stiff in the voice-powered speaker market, with popular options from a variety of tech leaders. Digital assistants — including Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana and now Samsung’s Bixby — use artificial intelligence to “learn” over time. New speakers are joining the race later this year, and China’s Alibaba Group is currently debuting an inexpensive version, Tmall Genie. Continue reading Samsung and Alibaba Join the Digital Assistant Speaker Race

Google Home Is More Likely to Answer Correctly Than Alexa

A study conducted by New York digital ad agency 360i revealed that Google Home is six times likelier than Amazon Alexa to answer user requests correctly. However, consumers are much more likely to purchase the Amazon product than Google’s. Amazon currently dominates with 70 percent of the voice-controlled speaker market, says eMarketer. Amazon released its new Echo Show with interactive touchscreen this week, and according to one reviewer, it’s not much different from Android or Apple voice assistants. Continue reading Google Home Is More Likely to Answer Correctly Than Alexa

Apple Develops AI Chip to Compete in Autonomous Cars, AR

Apple is reportedly working on Apple Neural Engine, the internal name for a new AI-enhanced processor that will enable facial and speech recognition ordinarily accomplished by human intelligence. The company, which would not comment, had an early AI win with Siri, but has since been playing catch up with Amazon and Google, both of which offer AI-powered digital assistants. Apple Neural Engine would give Apple more capabilities in autonomous vehicles and augmented reality devices, both fields Apple is involved in. Continue reading Apple Develops AI Chip to Compete in Autonomous Cars, AR

Apple to Design its Own GPUs and Leave Long-Time Supplier

After sourcing its GPUs from Imagination Technologies for years, Apple has decided to design its own GPU technology. With half of its revenue from Apple, Imagination Technologies stock has tanked as a result. GPUs, graphics processing units, are the workhorses for just about everything that Apple wants its smartphones and other devices to do, including machine learning, augmented reality and virtual reality, Siri and high resolution gaming. The GPU gets its power from its ability to multitask, processing in parallel. Continue reading Apple to Design its Own GPUs and Leave Long-Time Supplier

Amazon and Google Look to Turn Home Speakers into Phones

Both Amazon and Google are thinking about turning their respective home speakers — Echo and Google Home — into home telephones. Knowledgeable sources say the tech giants could introduce the feature this year, with the goal of gaining yet more control over consumers’ home lives. But the companies are also finding that it’s not so simple, facing issues related to privacy, telecom regulations and emergency services — as well as the potential that consumers will be wary that their conversations are being recorded. Continue reading Amazon and Google Look to Turn Home Speakers into Phones

Digital Assistants Grab Spotlight at CES, Alexa Leads the Pack

Virtual assistants that serve as a new voice-activated hub to the connected smart home and our ecosystem of personal electronics have grabbed the spotlight at this year’s CES. Aided by advances in artificial intelligence software that enable improved speech interaction with devices, tech giants such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft and others are battling for dominance in the digital assistant space. These companies are looking beyond smartphones and PCs toward a world in which voice-based systems become a standard feature in TVs, cable boxes, home appliances and connected vehicles. If the headlines are any indication, it seems that Amazon’s Alexa has taken an early lead in this race. Continue reading Digital Assistants Grab Spotlight at CES, Alexa Leads the Pack

CES 2017: The Need for a “Connective Architecture” for Data

Data about your heart. Data about your workout. Data about your sleep. Data about your posture, your focus, your shoes, your pictures, your wallet, your fridge, your front door, your light bulb, your bike, your neighbor, your chair, your car, your desk, your tea, your bikini (?!)… Walking the aisles of CES 2017 last week was a bit like peering into a dystopian feedback loop hell where every single physical object we touch is touching us back — with petabytes of fragmented data and exactly zero intelligence. Here lies the dilemma: While everyone is invested in building the sensor network, nobody is building the brain. Continue reading CES 2017: The Need for a “Connective Architecture” for Data

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?

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