Cloud and Artificial Intelligence Become Alphabet’s Best Bets

In its Q3 results, Alphabet revealed that, of its Other Bets initiatives, two Google projects — the cloud and artificial intelligence — have proven to be the most successful; both are on track to expand in the next year. Amazon is still the leader in cloud services, with a 55 percent gain representing $3.2 billion, and Microsoft is another major technology company rivaling Google. But Alphabet has made it clear that it is doubling down on both cloud and AI, even as it retreats from Google Fiber Internet and Nest connected-home tech. Continue reading Cloud and Artificial Intelligence Become Alphabet’s Best Bets

Microsoft Rolls Out Skype for Business, Android/iOS Updates

Having shown Skype for Business in preview in April, Microsoft officially debuted the business version of the popular communications app, and announced updates to the Android and iOS Skype for Business apps. Skype for Business features include full-screen sharing, one-click to join, and edge-to-edge video. The updated apps allow users to present remotely with PowerPoint directly from a mobile device. Mac users got Skype for Business six months ago, and the “full and final Windows version” was introduced 18 months ago. Continue reading Microsoft Rolls Out Skype for Business, Android/iOS Updates

Microsoft Debuts its First Desktop PC, Designed for ‘Creators’

Microsoft has debuted Surface Studio, a desktop personal computer that transforms into a digital drafting table — and the company’s first desktop PC. Surface Studio is an all-in-one-PC that sports an aluminum body with a 28-inch screen on top of a stand. An accessory device, dubbed Surface Dial, is an add-on to the mouse, for a more precise way to zoom into images. The company also revealed that an upcoming update to its Windows 10 operating system will make it easier to create, manipulate and view 3D objects. Continue reading Microsoft Debuts its First Desktop PC, Designed for ‘Creators’

Deep Learning Pioneer Yoshua Bengio Launches AI Incubator

Yoshua Bengio, a leader in deep learning and professor at the University of Montreal, is opening Element AI, a startup incubator focused on this form of artificial intelligence. The incubator will help develop AI-centric companies coming from both Bengio’s university and nearby McGill University, part of Bengio’s stated goal of creating an “AI ecosystem” in this Canadian city. According to Bengio, Montreal is home to “the biggest concentration in the world” of researchers in the powerful field of deep learning. Continue reading Deep Learning Pioneer Yoshua Bengio Launches AI Incubator

Google to Roll Out its Jamboard Digital Whiteboard Next Year

Google just added to its list of new hardware products with the Jamboard, a 55-inch 4K touchscreen that will sell for under $6,000 next year. The company’s other hardware products include the new Pixel phone, Google Home, Chromecast, and Google Wi-Fi, the latter introduced this month. A digital whiteboard, Jamboard is the first hardware product from Google’s so-called G Suite — cloud-based tools that include Gmail, Google Drive and Google Docs. G Suite tools are aimed at long-distance online collaboration. Continue reading Google to Roll Out its Jamboard Digital Whiteboard Next Year

Google Develops Standalone Headset for Augmented Reality

Google is getting closer to creating a headset ideal for augmented reality, according to knowledgeable sources. The company established a team to develop a VR headset that doesn’t require a computer or smartphone, and now is reportedly integrating eye tracking and sensors/algorithms that will map out the real-world space in front of a user. In related news, Google bought eye-tracking company Eyefluence. The headset under development is separate from the company’s recently debuted Daydream VR platform. Continue reading Google Develops Standalone Headset for Augmented Reality

Nintendo Rolls Out Switch, its New Hybrid Videogame System

Nintendo just debuted Switch, a console/handheld hybrid that is the company’s next videogame platform. The system, which has been in development since March 2015 and will be available for sale March 2017, can be used for TV gaming or as a portable gaming system, depending on the configuration of its tablet-like device and dock. Minus the tablet, the system becomes portable, with mini joysticks that can be wireless or attached to the sides. Nintendo also says it will soon reveal titles, game demos, and prices. Continue reading Nintendo Rolls Out Switch, its New Hybrid Videogame System

Facebook Adds Its Ethernet Switch to Open Compute Project

Facebook is sharing more technology, announcing that the Open Compute Project (OCP) — formed by the Silicon Valley company — has accepted its contribution of the Wedge 100 top-of-rack Ethernet switch that transmits data at 100 gigabits per second (Gbps). The company has already utilized many such switches in production inside its data centers, and the announcement signals that Facebook is committed to sharing the infrastructure that lets it handle large-scale data-heavy applications at an economic price point. Continue reading Facebook Adds Its Ethernet Switch to Open Compute Project

IBM Looks to Commercialize Artificial Intelligence with Watson

IBM is launching commercialization of its artificial intelligence technology Watson with the hope of growing it into a multibillion-dollar enterprise. Big Blue has already invested billions of dollars and, currently, a staff of 10,000 employees to evolve Watson, which was launched as a business unit in 2014. The effort is beginning to pay off, as Watson is now assisting in diagnosing cancer. IBM is also marketing its AI in TV ads featuring Watson bantering with Nobel laureate Bob Dylan and tennis celebrity Serena Williams. Continue reading IBM Looks to Commercialize Artificial Intelligence with Watson

Uber and MasterCard Moving to Selfies for Identity Verification

Uber Technologies, MasterCard and the Alabama Department of Revenue are among the handful of companies and government agencies beginning to use selfies, rather than passwords, as proof of identity. Smartphone cameras take better quality photos than before and facial recognition software is more accessible and affordable, which makes this a new option. But some experts in cybercrime aren’t as sanguine, worried that this way of proving identity is riddled with both security and privacy issues. Continue reading Uber and MasterCard Moving to Selfies for Identity Verification

Facebook Debuts Workplace After Two Years of Development

After two years of development and testing in London, Facebook rolled out Workplace by Facebook, modeled after the company’s internal network and aimed at the corporate environment. Workplace by Facebook (formerly Facebook at Work) allows workers, even in different companies, to communicate and collaborate, for a monthly fee of $1 to $3 per user. By entering the enterprise communication space, Facebook will compete with Slack, Microsoft’s Yammer (accessible via Office 365), and Jive Software’s Jive among other solutions. Continue reading Facebook Debuts Workplace After Two Years of Development

Walmart to Ramp Up Online Operation, Google Opens Pop-Up

Walmart told its investors that it was opening fewer brick-and-mortar stores in favor of investing in online operations, a strategy that was initiated when Walmart chief executive Doug McMillon paid about $3.3 billion for e-commerce startup Jet.com. That company’s founder, Marc Lore, will lead the initiative. The company predicts online sales will grow 20 percent to 30 percent in the next three years. Still, it’s a risky gambit since Amazon is increasing its dominance in the U.S. consumer space. Continue reading Walmart to Ramp Up Online Operation, Google Opens Pop-Up

In a First, Yahoo Secretly Scans All Incoming Emails for Feds

In response to a classified edict from the National Security Agency or the FBI, Yahoo scanned all of its users’ incoming emails for a specific “set of characters,” keeping the scans and the software system it built to do so a secret. Millions of emails were scanned, but neither federal agency nor Yahoo will say if they found what they were looking for. Experts say this is the first case of a U.S. Internet company agreeing to search all arriving emails, rather than stored messages or a small number of email accounts. Continue reading In a First, Yahoo Secretly Scans All Incoming Emails for Feds

U.S. Cloud Computing Titans Invest in European Data Centers

Major American tech companies are building multiple data centers in Europe, with the end goal of dominating the cloud computing market there. The leading provider, Amazon Web Services, will soon open data centers in France and Britain. The second largest cloud computing provider, Microsoft reports it has spent $1 billion in the last year on data centers, for a total expenditure of $3 billion since 2005. Google, already in Belgium and Finland, will complete a new expansive data center in the Netherlands by the end of 2016. Continue reading U.S. Cloud Computing Titans Invest in European Data Centers

New Microsoft Group Aims to Link AI Research with Products

Microsoft is reorganizing itself to better address the burgeoning field of artificial intelligence. The company says it has opened a new organization, staffed by 5,000 employees, that combines its sizeable research group and AI-enabled products including the Bing search engine and Cortana virtual assistant. The new group’s creation had a setback when computer scientist Qi Lu, who had overseen Bing and Microsoft Office products, suffered a serious bicycling accident and had to temporarily leave the company.   Continue reading New Microsoft Group Aims to Link AI Research with Products

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