Facebook Builds Out Its Shopping Features Across Platforms

Next Tuesday, Facebook will begin the global rollout of a new tab in its main app called Facebook Shop, which allows users to browse product catalogs and buy items directly on the social media platform. The new feature, previously in beta with a small group of U.S. users, joins a similar feature launched on Instagram last month. Prior to Facebook Shop, businesses could add catalogs to their Facebook pages, but the new feature is a dedicated marketplace for multiple retailers. Instagram’s Checkout feature will also soon be broadly available. Continue reading Facebook Builds Out Its Shopping Features Across Platforms

Google Developing New Cloud Services During the Pandemic

According to Google Cloud chief executive Thomas Kurian, the coronavirus pandemic has had an impact on the development of new cloud features. “Every week, there’s a new set of dimensions, and we have to adapt, keep people positive, and focus through it,” he said. A new security product that encrypts data while it’s being processed, for example, is aimed at luring businesses in highly regulated industries to adopt cloud services. Another cloud-computing product is Assured Workloads for Government, a new way to secure public sector deals. Continue reading Google Developing New Cloud Services During the Pandemic

Amazon Debuts Smart Shopping Cart for Simplified Checkout

Amazon unveiled the Dash Cart this week, a “smart” grocery shopping cart fitted with a touchscreen that can automatically detect the items placed in it. The shopper can then take the Dash Cart through a special lane to digitally check out via a combination of computer vision algorithms and sensors. The Dash Cart is the result of Amazon’s aim to apply everything it’s learned in building its Alexa-enabled products to create more convenience in the brick-and-mortar world. The Dash Cart will first be deployed in Amazon’s grocery store in Woodland Hills, a Los Angeles suburb. Continue reading Amazon Debuts Smart Shopping Cart for Simplified Checkout

Walmart Subscription Service Aims to Take on Amazon Prime

Later this month Walmart plans to unveil Walmart+, a subscription service intended to compete with Amazon Prime. Walmart+ will cost $98 per year and, according to sources, will offer same-day delivery of groceries and “general merchandise” as well as early access to product deals and discounts at Walmart gas stations. The company originally planned to unveil Walmart+ in late March or April but pushed the date to July due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s still not clear if Walmart will introduce the service regionally or nationally. Continue reading Walmart Subscription Service Aims to Take on Amazon Prime

National Research Cloud Gains Big Tech, Legislator Support

The National Research Cloud, which has bipartisan support in Congress, gained approval of several universities, including Stanford, Carnegie Mellon and Ohio State, and participation of Big Tech companies Amazon, Google and IBM. The project would give academics access to a tech companies’ cloud data centers and public data sets, encouraging growth in AI research. Although the Trump administration has cut funding to other kinds of research, it has proposed doubling its spending on AI by 2022. Continue reading National Research Cloud Gains Big Tech, Legislator Support

Amazon Developing AI System for Trying on Clothes Virtually

At Amazon Lab126, researchers proposed three related AI algorithms to create Outfit-VITON, an image-based virtual try-on system for apparel. The algorithms could form the basis of an assistant to help a customer shop for clothes by describing a product’s variations, recommending items that go with the one selected, and synthesizing the image of a model wearing clothes to show how all the items work as an outfit. The algorithms will be presented at the annual IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR will be held virtually this year, June 14-19). Continue reading Amazon Developing AI System for Trying on Clothes Virtually

Niantic Acquires 6D.ai with Plans for Large-Scale AR Projects

Niantic has acquired 6D.ai, an augmented reality company that is building a 3D map of the world via smartphone cameras. According to Niantic chief executive John Hanke, the resulting dynamic 3D world map will enable developers to create planet-scale AR experiences. On the company blog, he stated that, “this means we’re even closer to an AR platform that will unlock the ability for any developer to make content for current and future AR hardware.” Founded in 2017, 6D.ai was spun out of Oxford University’s Active Vision Lab. Continue reading Niantic Acquires 6D.ai with Plans for Large-Scale AR Projects

Epic Games Becomes Game Publisher, Acquires Cubic Motion

Last week, Epic Games revealed its plans to fund, introduce and market new multi-platform video games, under the new Epic Games Publishing division. Epic Games stated that it will fund “up to 100 percent of all game development costs … studios will retain 100 percent control of their intellectual property … [and] once costs are recouped developers will earn at least 50 percent of profits.” Epic games also acquired Cubic Motion, which offers automated performance-driven facial animation technology. Continue reading Epic Games Becomes Game Publisher, Acquires Cubic Motion

Microsoft Research Leads Team to Author AI Ethics Checklist

Microsoft Research, with almost 50 engineers from a dozen technology companies, created a checklist for AI ethics intended to spur conversation on the topic and raise some “good tension” within organizations. To that end, the list, rather than asking “yes” or “no” questions, instead suggests that teams “define fairness criteria.” Participants were not identified by name, but many are in AI-related fields like computer vision, natural language processing and predictive analytics. The group hopes to inspire future efforts. Continue reading Microsoft Research Leads Team to Author AI Ethics Checklist

CES Panel Addresses the Myths and Realities of Today’s AI

Artificial intelligence is not particularly well understood, especially by consumers, suggested USA Today technology columnist Ed Baig, who moderated a CES panel on “Myth and Reality in Today’s AI.” One of the biggest myths addressed was that AI results in people losing their jobs. Foundation Capital partner Joanne Chen stated that, “nobody has lost their job due to AI.” Unity Technologies vice president of AI/machine learning Dr. Danny Lange agreed. “People will not lose their jobs but do other things,” he said. Continue reading CES Panel Addresses the Myths and Realities of Today’s AI

Dynamic Branding: Ryff’s Quest for Virtual Product Placement

In the presence of decreasing ad rates and a growing SVOD media landscape, product placement has become an increasingly important revenue source. Ryff is looking to enhance this $11.44 billion market, according to data collected by Statista, by enabling virtual product placement. Their technology allows users to detect favorable locations in existing video and dynamically introduce photorealistic virtual products. On-demand product placement of branded goods has long been a dream of the advertising and marketing industry. As Ryff CEO and founder Roy Taylor said, “[It is] the only advertising format that can’t be skipped by the viewer.”

Continue reading Dynamic Branding: Ryff’s Quest for Virtual Product Placement

Intel Doubles Down on AI with $2 Billion Habana Acquisition

Intel acquired Israel-based AI chip manufacturer Habana Labs for about $2 billion, to strengthen its offerings for data centers requiring such chips. The tech giant already stated that it expects to complete more than $3.5 billion in sales related to artificial intelligence, an increase of 20 percent from last year. The Habana purchase is just one of several that Intel has made in recent years in its efforts to grow new markets. Intel expects the AI chip market to grow to $25 billion by 2024, half from selling chips for data centers. Continue reading Intel Doubles Down on AI with $2 Billion Habana Acquisition

Qualcomm Targets 5G, Mixed Reality With Snapdragon XR2

Qualcomm debuted Snapdragon XR2, which the company is dubbing “the world’s first 5G XR platform.” This second generation mixed reality chipset follows the debut of Snapdragon XR1 in May 2018, which provided “the minimum criteria for immersion” in mixed reality and was intended to lower the price of components for XR headsets (it was used in AR glasses such as Google Glass Enterprise). Qualcomm is presenting Snapdragon XR2, however, as more powerful than the Snapdragon 835 that powered the Oculus Quest VR headset. Continue reading Qualcomm Targets 5G, Mixed Reality With Snapdragon XR2

Google Upgrades Shopping Portal, Extends Lens Capability

Google has streamlined its Shopping desktop and mobile portals in anticipation of the holiday season and unveiled a fashion recommendation engine for Google Lens, its AI-enabled computer vision search tool. According to Google Shopping vice president Surojit Chatterjee, the redesign is aimed at making it easier for users to “research and buy” what they are looking for. A personalized homepage offers product suggestions, and new sections allow re-ordering. Also more prominent are links to “nearby and online” stores. Continue reading Google Upgrades Shopping Portal, Extends Lens Capability

Pinterest Becomes a Visual Discovery Engine for Shopping

Pinterest is now promoting itself as a “visual discovery engine,” where its 300 million global monthly active users can not only browse billions of images but also purchase the items they find there. For most of its users, Pinterest is a go-to place for home décor, gardening and personal style, allowing users to “pin” or post photos to create inspiration boards. According to Pinterest, its AI technology can accurately pinpoint 2.5+ billion objects in photos, millions of which can be purchased by clicking on the item. Continue reading Pinterest Becomes a Visual Discovery Engine for Shopping

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