Samsung’s Viv Digital Assistant to Bring AI to Phones, Beyond

Samsung just acquired Viv, an AI-powered digital assistant created by the founders of Siri. Dag Kittlaus, Adam Cheyer and Chris Brigham created Siri and sold it to Apple in 2010, leaving shortly thereafter to found Viv in 2012. Viv will operate as an independent company, but provide services to Samsung, which ships 500 million devices annually. Viv’s highlights are that it allows interconnectedness of information across apps and services, and its AI can write its own code to accomplish new tasks. Continue reading Samsung’s Viv Digital Assistant to Bring AI to Phones, Beyond

Amazon to Take On Spotify and Apple with New Music Service

Amazon plans to compete with the likes of Spotify and Apple Music when the company launches its own on-demand music service early next year. Some reports suggest the service may be called Amazon Music Unlimited, and would not come with the annual $99 Amazon Prime subscription, but would likely run a separate $10 per month. “The company will also launch its Echo-based music service, which will cost $5 a month, within the next few weeks,” reports The Verge. “That service will allow Echo owners to access Amazon’s music library on-demand just like the more expensive offering, but playback will be restricted to the smart assistant.” Continue reading Amazon to Take On Spotify and Apple with New Music Service

LG Expands Smart Home Strategy with New IoT Partnerships

At IFA 2016 in Berlin, LG is demonstrating smart home technology and its expanding IoT ecosystem with new partnerships and collaborations. In addition to connected smart refrigerators featuring sensors, touchscreens and cameras — as well as a host of new IoT accessories such as light bulbs and motion sensors — LG has announced that its SmartThinQ Hub now includes support for Amazon’s virtual assistant, Alexa. “To chat with Alexa, you’ll have to press a button on the LG hub, whereupon you’ll be able to ask Alexa to amend your schedule, play your favorite song, or check the forecast,” reports Digital Trends. “You’ll also be able to command Alexa via a remote.” Continue reading LG Expands Smart Home Strategy with New IoT Partnerships

Consumers Can Talk with Alexa to Order Products on Amazon

Amazon announced that its voice-controlled digital assistant Alexa will have the ability to order “tens of millions” of products. “Alexa — which is built into Amazon’s Wi-Fi-connected Echo and Tap speakers and its Fire TV set-top box — won’t be able to place an order for everything in Amazon’s online store and shopping apps,” reports The Wall Street Journal, but “will have access to all of the products in Amazon’s Prime shipping program.” The company is “adding more products every day into that Prime product wheelhouse,” said an Amazon spokeswoman. “We really want to see how customers are using it and get their feedback on how it can be improved. We’ll continue to figure out expansion as time goes on.” Continue reading Consumers Can Talk with Alexa to Order Products on Amazon

Slack Strives to Be Artificial Intelligence-Powered Office Portal

Slack has plans to evolve its workplace app to become the center of the office’s digital environment, connecting a wide variety of third-party business apps, with the ultimate goal of becoming the artificial intelligence-powered portal to the entire workplace. Head of search, learning and intelligence Noah Weiss described those plans for Slack, currently used by three million people every day in the work environment, and added that the company is also evolving its voice capabilities to become more sophisticated. Continue reading Slack Strives to Be Artificial Intelligence-Powered Office Portal

Amazon Alexa Skills Grow Ten-Fold via Third Party Developers

Amazon’s Echo, Dot and Tap smart speakers have started to attract the attention of developers interested in adding so-called skills to Alexa, the speakers’ voice-computing platform. Amazon reports that Alexa now has 1,000 skills, an explosion since Alexa’s skills numbered 130 apps in January. Echo debuted last June, when Amazon offered it by invite; now Amazon has brought Alexa to its Fire TV platform and third party hardware manufacturers have also brought Alexa to other connected devices. Continue reading Amazon Alexa Skills Grow Ten-Fold via Third Party Developers

Google’s Virtual Products Could Upend Traditional Ad Models

Google is building technologies that rely less on physical devices: Google Home and its virtual assistant; Project Jacquard, clothing with computing built into the yarn that responds to gestures and voice commands; and Project Soli, that allows gestures to control computers. Also new is Project Ara, a smartphone design that “surrounds” the user wherever she goes, which chief executive Sundar Pichai calls “ambient computing.” What’s unclear with the new paradigms, however, is how Google will generate revenue. Continue reading Google’s Virtual Products Could Upend Traditional Ad Models

Google, Infineon Prototype New Gesture Tracking Technology

A new generation of chips is making gesture tracking more accurate. German company Infineon Technologies AG has paired its radar chips with Google’s algorithms to create Soli technology, enabling devices to detect smaller gestures from several meters away. The first Soli technology devices, presented at the Google I/O developer conference, are prototypes of an LG Electronics smartwatch and a Harman Kardon loudspeaker. Recognizable gestures include hand movements such as those required to wind a watch. Continue reading Google, Infineon Prototype New Gesture Tracking Technology

Google Develops its Own Chip to Speed Up Machine Learning

Google has just built its own chip as part of its efforts to speed up artificial intelligence developments. The company revealed that this is just the first of many chips it plans to develop and build. At the same time, an increasing number of businesses are migrating to the cloud, lessening the need for servers that rely on chips to function. That’s led some to believe that Google and other Internet titans that follow its lead will impact the future of the chip industry, particularly such stalwarts as Intel and Nvidia. Continue reading Google Develops its Own Chip to Speed Up Machine Learning

Google Partners with Xiaomi and its 4K Mi Box for Android TV

During its I/O conference, Google introduced new hardware partners for Android TV and Google Cast, its solutions for watching Web content on TV screens. One of these is Chinese electronics company Xiaomi, showing a new Mi Box that supports 4K, high dynamic range and, for the first time, will ship to the U.S. The Bluetooth remote-equipped Mi Box offers voice recognition and built-in Google Cast technology, enabling the user to cast content from iOS and Android devices. Google also says new Sony Bravia and RCA TVs and a Sharp Net Player will ship running Android TV. Continue reading Google Partners with Xiaomi and its 4K Mi Box for Android TV

Wells Fargo Bets on Biometric Security to Replace Passwords

If Wells Fargo is right, the traditional password will be gone in five years. To prepare, the company has been mentoring startup EyeVerify in an accelerator program since 2014. This July, Wells Fargo will debut EyeVerify’s software to corporate clients. Those executives authorized to use commercial bank accounts will be able to use their iPhone camera to take a selfie, and the Eyeprint ID software built into the bank’s mobile app will read their eyes’ veins and other markers to match with a stored template. Continue reading Wells Fargo Bets on Biometric Security to Replace Passwords

Amazon’s Alexa Moves Artificial Intelligence Into Mainstream

Amazon spent years to bring Echo from an idea to an intelligent, voice-controlled product that could play music, order groceries and read the news out loud. Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos demanded perfection, bringing latency levels to below 1.5 seconds, and the result is that Echo and its virtual assistant Alexa are a hit. In less than two weeks, Echo hit a million pre-orders, which took the iPhone 70 days to achieve. Amazon is now letting third-party hardware manufacturers integrate Alexa into their products. Continue reading Amazon’s Alexa Moves Artificial Intelligence Into Mainstream

Apple Debuts Minor Changes, But Has Big Plans for iPad Pro

Apple’s growth by the end of Q4 2015 was a pallid 2 percent, and the unveiling of its new products at this week’s event from Cupertino showed only incremental changes: an updated 4-inch screen iPhone, a new smaller iPad Pro and a free update to Apple TV. But Apple has big growth potential in its future plans. Although iPad sales have been declining, the company sees the new iPad Pro as a replacement for the huge number of aging PCs, and brought the newly converted Citigroup and Pixar to the event to make its point. Continue reading Apple Debuts Minor Changes, But Has Big Plans for iPad Pro

New Voice-Powered App Takes On Leading Digital Assistants

Santa Clara-based startup SoundHound has developed a voice-powered digital assistant that could take on early players in the field, including Siri, Google Now and Cortana. Like the others, the Hound app (for iOS and Android) allows users to interact via voice so that it can perform requested tasks. However, Hound claims to be faster and smarter than its competitors. The app has been in beta with 150,000 testers since last summer, and is now publicly available along with new Yelp and Uber partnerships for restaurant info and ride hailing from within the app. Continue reading New Voice-Powered App Takes On Leading Digital Assistants

SoftBank to Launch App Store for its Pepper Robots This Month

SoftBank’s Pepper humanoid robots are already interacting with customers at shops and banks in Japan. Later this month, the robots will be introduced to more advanced functions after SoftBank opens a planned app store offering software that will help track customer’s behavior and improve communication with customers. The Pepper robots, which are designed to feature human-like body language and work in retail, have reportedly been selling out regularly since last year’s launch. Continue reading SoftBank to Launch App Store for its Pepper Robots This Month

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