Microsoft Speeds Up AI with New Programmable FPGA Chips

In 2012, Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer and computer chip researcher Doug Burger believed they had found the future of computing: chips that could be programmed for specific tasks, dubbed field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). Project Catapult, as it was called, was intended to shift the underlying technology of all Microsoft servers in that direction. FPGAs now form the basis of Bing. Soon, the specialized chips will be capable of artificial intelligence at a tremendous speed — 23 milliseconds versus four seconds. Continue reading Microsoft Speeds Up AI with New Programmable FPGA Chips

With Smart App Genee, Microsoft Aims to Boost Cortana’s AI

Microsoft acquired Genee, a smart scheduling app that can help improve the company’s virtual assistant Cortana. Currently, Cortana can track packages and set reminders based on location among other tasks but, with Genee, it could also automatically set business meetings simply by recognizing key phrases in emails. That’s just one of the many tasks that an AI-enhanced Cortana would be able to do, all based on Genee’s ability to interpret language. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. Continue reading With Smart App Genee, Microsoft Aims to Boost Cortana’s AI

Uber Inks Deal with Chinese Rival Didi, Focuses on Mapping

After two years of spending big to succeed in China, Uber has thrown in the towel and made a deal with rival Didi Chuxing. As a result, for a 20 percent stake, Uber China will become part of the larger Chinese company, which is valued at $35 billion. Prior to the deal, Didi was valued at $28 billion. Uber purportedly spent more than $2 billion in China. Meanwhile, Uber is using some of the $13.5 billion raised recently from investors to double-down on its global mapping project, with a $500 million investment. Continue reading Uber Inks Deal with Chinese Rival Didi, Focuses on Mapping

Google Using RankBrain Artificial Intelligence Tech for Search

Google is now relying on artificial intelligence, with a system dubbed RankBrain, for a small but significant part of its search business. Since Google is identified with search, keeping on the bleeding edge of search technology is critical to its dominance, and Google has been researching artificial intelligence — software that learns about the world — for over five years. Prior to launching RankBrain for search, Google has been a big corporate sponsor of AI, invested in it for videos, speech and translation. Continue reading Google Using RankBrain Artificial Intelligence Tech for Search

Facebook and Yahoo Attempt to Expand Search Capabilities

Facebook and Yahoo just made strategic deals with regard to search. Facebook, which unsuccessfully attempted search with its Graph Search feature in 2013, states it has now indexed more than two trillion posts, promoting it as a way to follow news discussions in real time. Yahoo just inked a non-exclusive deal with Google to provide search results and ads; antitrust regulators struck down a similar deal in 2008. Yahoo renegotiated an exclusive deal with Microsoft’s Bing to make this latest deal. Continue reading Facebook and Yahoo Attempt to Expand Search Capabilities

Yahoo is Developing a Mobile Search App to Take On Google

Yahoo is making a personal assistant and mobile search app that will compete with Apple’s Siri, Google Now and Microsoft’s Cortana. The app, codenamed “Index,” will be able to pull information from a user’s email to provide the most relevant search results. It will most likely be ad-supported and the company is aiming to complete a pilot version of the app this year. Yahoo executives hopes this app will be able to take some share of the mobile search market from Google. Continue reading Yahoo is Developing a Mobile Search App to Take On Google

Cyanogen: Microsoft Plans to Invest in New Version of Android

Microsoft is planning to invest in Cyanogen, a startup that is building another version of the Android mobile operating system independent of Google. While Google requires smartphone manufacturers to feature Google apps and Google search, Cyanogen’s new operating system does not plan to have any similar requirements. For Microsoft, that means its Bing search engine and other software has a better chance of succeeding on smartphones with the alternative Cyanogen-built operating system. Continue reading Cyanogen: Microsoft Plans to Invest in New Version of Android

Building Tomorrow’s Search Engines to Sense as Humans Do

In the past decade and a half, there have been only minimal modifications to Google Search. The popular search engine functions as it always has; one enters a query into the type box and in return is given a list of instantaneous results based on the keywords. Although the search engine continues to be effective, Stefan Weitz, senior director of search at Microsoft’s Bing predicts the search engine of tomorrow will be much more advanced and proactive than anything we have today. Continue reading Building Tomorrow’s Search Engines to Sense as Humans Do

Microsoft Opens The Garage, Unveils Wild Ideas of Employees

Microsoft recently launched a new section on its website to provide the public with access to various projects in development. Microsoft Garage started in 2009 within the Office Labs group as a place for employees to work on innovative new ideas. Until last week, The Garage was largely an internal effort that supported side projects, hackathons and science fairs. The Garage is now offering public access to 16 free consumer-facing apps across Android, Android Wear, iOS, Windows Phone and Xbox One. Continue reading Microsoft Opens The Garage, Unveils Wild Ideas of Employees

Microsoft Working on Free Version of Windows 8.1 with Bing

Microsoft is said to be experimenting with a free version of its Windows 8.1 operating system in hopes of increasing the number of users. Sources familiar with the plans say “Windows 8.1 with Bing” will bundle key Microsoft apps and services. The company aims to introduce Windows 8.1 with Bing as a free or low-cost upgrade for Windows 7 users. The new Bing-powered software may also be offered to computer manufacturers as part of recent license cuts for sub-$250 devices.

Continue reading Microsoft Working on Free Version of Windows 8.1 with Bing

Cortana: Microsoft’s New Siri-Like Personal Digital Assistant

Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8.1 update will include its new personal digital assistant “Cortana,” named after the AI character in the “Halo” game series. Designed to rival Apple’s Siri and Google Now, Cortana’s circular animated icon will replace the built-in Bing search functionality on Windows Phone, and will animate while speaking or thinking, creating a personality similar to the Siri approach. Cortana will save data in a Notebook system that will enable it to track data and generate notifications much like Google Now. Continue reading Cortana: Microsoft’s New Siri-Like Personal Digital Assistant

DEW Conference: Futurist Rob Tercek on Internet Companies

Millennials, who typically get their video from Vine, Instagram, Snapchat and other social and online sources, are developing a new vernacular for viewing, said futurist Rob Tercek at the Digital Entertainment World conference in LA last week. He believes that the DreamWorks deal to produce children’s content for Netflix is a play by Netflix to capture and cultivate a generation of viewers, similar to the way Apple seeded schools with Apple computers. Similar trends are playing out with various Internet companies. Continue reading DEW Conference: Futurist Rob Tercek on Internet Companies

Yahoo and Yelp Partner in Hopes of Optimizing Local Search

In an effort to better compete with Google and Microsoft’s Bing, Yahoo has paired up with Yelp to optimize local search engine results. Yelp’s listings and reviews of local businesses will be integrated into Yahoo’s search functionality. The partnership follows in the footsteps of Microsoft’s recent deal with Foursquare, a mobile check-in software maker. As consumers become increasingly dependent on smartphones to navigate the world, data about local businesses in search engines has become more important. Continue reading Yahoo and Yelp Partner in Hopes of Optimizing Local Search

Samsung Multi-Link Screen to Spur Contextual Smart TV Apps?

In addition to the curved displays and 4K tech touted during Samsung’s press briefing on Sunday, the company also introduced its “Multi-Link Screen” feature, in what could potentially be the first step forward in contextual smart TV apps. Through the new feature, Samsung’s 2014 TVs will essentially allow consumers to view a split screen for perusing Web and YouTube content while still watching live TV. This could lead to social apps, for example, automatically providing related info during broadcasts. Continue reading Samsung Multi-Link Screen to Spur Contextual Smart TV Apps?

Cortana: Microsoft Developing Next-Gen Personal Assistant

Microsoft is developing a personal assistant app called Cortana that will compete directly with Apple’s Siri and Google Now. Cortana derives its name from an artificially intelligent character in Microsoft’s “Halo” series. Essentially, the app will be able to learn and adapt while utilizing machine-learning technology and the Satori knowledge repository powering Bing. The app will likely be released somewhere between 2014 and 2016. Continue reading Cortana: Microsoft Developing Next-Gen Personal Assistant

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