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Study Reveals Growing COVID-19 Anxiety Over Public Spaces

People have been locked down due to the coronavirus for two months, but a mid-May survey from Performance Research, in partnership with Full Circle Research Co., revealed that many are still anxious about health and safety in larger public spaces. In fact, the survey indicates that, despite a strong desire to gather with others and resume normal activities, the level of anxiety for many has been building since an earlier survey taken in March. Such a trend could impact movie theaters, theme parks, sports venues, concert halls, stage performances and more.

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Shopify Debuts Product Updates Including Balance Debit Card

At Shopify Reunite, the Canadian company’s first virtual event, the direct-to-consumer e-commerce platform released numerous updates. Among them are Shopify Balance, a business account and debit card; a Local Delivery app; and Shop Pay Installments, a buy-now-pay later option. The company’s AI-powered fulfillment network is also now welcoming merchant applications. Shopify canceled what would have been its fifth annual partner and developer conference, Shopify Unite, due to the coronavirus. Read more

China to Invest $1.4 Trillion in Domestic Technology by 2025

To gain global leadership, Chinese president Xi Jinping plans to invest $1.4 trillion dollars by 2025 in key technology areas, including 5G wireless networks, cameras and sensors, and AI for autonomous vehicles, automated factories and mass surveillance among other sectors. Chinese companies such as Alibaba, Huawei Technologies and SenseTime Group will likely benefit, as China reduces its reliance on U.S. companies. The Trump administration is leveraging its relationship with Taiwan as one way to fight back. Read more

Apple and Google Offer Contact Tracing Tech to Developers

Apple and Google unveiled jointly developed contact tracing technology to help the government track the spread of COVID-19. The app notifies a user if she has been exposed to someone who tested positive for the coronavirus. The technology’s protocol relies on the phone’s Bluetooth signal to identify those who have been near an infected person. So far, North Dakota, Alabama and South Carolina in the U.S. and 22 countries have asked for and received access to the technology. The app was previously released in beta. Read more

Facebook Reveals New AI-Powered Text-to-Speech System

Facebook introduced an AI text-to-speech system (TTS) that produces a second of audio in 500 milliseconds. According to Facebook, the system, which is used with a new approach to data collection, powered the creation of a British accent-inflected voice in six months, versus over a year required for other voices. The TTS is now used for Facebook’s Portal smart display brand. The system can be hosted in real time via ordinary processors and is also available as a service for other apps, including Facebook’s VR. Read more

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