Amazon Profits Rise as Do Fake Reviews and Inflated Ratings

Since the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Amazon added 50 million Prime members and made $26+ billion in profits. Also surging, however, are fake reviews that bolster ratings for vendors but sow mistrust among shoppers. Amazon made it easier to leave a rating, such as one-tap ratings that allow the consumer to submit a star rating without accompanying text, but the attempt to instill confidence among consumers has largely backfired. Amazon’s one-day shipping has also made it much harder for small businesses to survive the transition to online sales. Continue reading Amazon Profits Rise as Do Fake Reviews and Inflated Ratings

Google Adopts Futuristic Hybrid Plan for Work Post-Pandemic

Google is creating a post-pandemic workplace to appeal to employees who got used to working remotely last year and may not want to return to the office full-time. Over the next year, the company plans to try out a variety of different ways to design office spaces, based on research done before COVID-19 hit. A variety of consultants were asked to imagine the future workspace, one of which is “Team Pods,” where desks, chairs, whiteboards and storage units are all on casters and can be rearranged in numerous configurations. Continue reading Google Adopts Futuristic Hybrid Plan for Work Post-Pandemic

Amazon: Jeff Bezos Touts New Vision for Employee Success

In the wake of Amazon warehouse workers in Alabama voting against unionization, company founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos stated that, “it’s clear to me that we need a better vision for how we create value for employees — a vision for their success.” Seventy percent of workers at the Alabama warehouse voted against the union. Bezos, who will step down as chief executive — but remain as chair — in Q3 this year, touted the fact that Amazon helped 200+ million Amazon Prime members save $630 each during the year. Continue reading Amazon: Jeff Bezos Touts New Vision for Employee Success

CTA Researchers Discuss Key Tech Trends to Expect at CES

In a live question-and-answer period during CES 2021, Consumer Technology Association vice president of research Steve Koenig and director of research Lesley Rohrbaugh answered questions about technology trends not described in their earlier presentation on predictions for 2021. In answer to a question about what to expect this year from smart glasses, Koenig emphasized that, “this is definitely the year of augmented reality.” But, he added, rather than describing experiences as VR, AR or MR, he said those terms will be replaced by describing “degrees of immersion.” Continue reading CTA Researchers Discuss Key Tech Trends to Expect at CES

How Businesses Should Prep for the Coming Ubiquitous 5G

Telecommunication companies and others are spending billions of dollars to make 5G ubiquitous, for smartphones and the Internet of Things. Speed is one benefit of 5G but also important is that its high bandwidth enables more capacity, which allows manufacturing plants and facilities to capture more data and communications. That is a game changer for a manufacturing plant with hundreds of thousands of signals from robots, HVAC and lighting systems and machinery that communicate to an asset management system. Continue reading How Businesses Should Prep for the Coming Ubiquitous 5G

Amazon Fresh Stores Aim to Reinvent Shopping Experiences

Amazon Fresh Stores have a very different look from Whole Foods, which the e-commerce giant purchased in 2017. The Fresh Store, which just opened its second outpost last week in Irvine, California, looks like a small warehouse, with Dash Carts offering integrated touchscreens and cameras. The Fresh Store is designed to be as easy as possible to retrofit in an existing retailer space and the look is spartan and appears to be optimized for robots. Prepared foods are available but there’s no place to sit and eat them. Continue reading Amazon Fresh Stores Aim to Reinvent Shopping Experiences

Walmart Opens Test Stores to Advance E-Commerce Goals

Walmart is transforming four of its stores into test labs to find the best ways to transition them into online fulfillment centers for e-commerce. Two of the stores are near its Bentonville, Arkansas headquarters, and the locations of the second two will be announced at a later date. Employees at these so-called laboratories will rely on digital tools and try out different strategies to integrate the company’s e-commerce and brick-and-mortar sides. The company’s online sales almost doubled during Q2, which ended July 31. Continue reading Walmart Opens Test Stores to Advance E-Commerce Goals

AI-Powered Movies in Progress, Writing Makes Major Strides

In the not-so-distant future there will likely be services that allow the user to choose plots, characters and locations that are then fed into an AI-powered transformer with the result of a fully customized movie. The idea of using generative artificial intelligence to create content goes back to 2015’s computer vision program DeepDream, thanks to Google engineer Alexander Mordvintsev. Bringing that fantasy closer to reality is the AI system GPT-3 that creates convincingly coherent and interactive writing, often fooling the experts. Continue reading AI-Powered Movies in Progress, Writing Makes Major Strides

Tech Sector Workers Fearful of Losing Jobs to AI Automation

A KPMG report revealed that 67 percent of tech sector employees fear losing their jobs to automation and 70 percent worry their jobs will be eliminated due to the economic downturn. In other industries, only 44 percent of workers are concerned about losing their jobs to automation and 57 percent worry their jobs will disappear. Conducted in April, the survey queried 1,000 full-time/part-time workers, of whom 223 were in the tech sector. Twitter founder and CEO Jack Dorsey stated that, in the future, AI will write its own software. Continue reading Tech Sector Workers Fearful of Losing Jobs to AI Automation

Robots and Drones Make More Deliveries During Pandemic

All around the globe, from China to Israel to the U.S., robots and drones are delivering everything from groceries to medical supplies during the coronavirus pandemic without the threat of transmitting COVID-19. In Sacramento, for example, startup Nuro’s R2 robots are delivering personal protective equipment, clean linens and food from a supply depot to a field hospital. But, as many businesses and governments are eager to use robots, the startups that make them are challenged to ramp up production to meet demand. Continue reading Robots and Drones Make More Deliveries During Pandemic

German Firms Plan to Build Their Own Secure 5G Networks

Although Germany’s carriers plan to launch 5G networks, large companies including BASF, BMW, Bosch, Lufthansa and Volkswagen have applied to set up local private 5G networks. The German network regulator reported that, so far, 33 companies have bought licenses, which became available last November. Experts observe that private 5G networks are useful for industrial applications that require speedy, reliable connectivity with low latency for real-time critical jobs such as driverless vehicles and robots. Continue reading German Firms Plan to Build Their Own Secure 5G Networks

Facebook’s 3D Photos Now Available for All Latest Handsets

Facebook’s 3D Photos feature — which uses depth data to create images that can be examined from different angles via virtual reality headsets — is now available on any of the latest handsets with a single camera, including Apple iPhone 7 or higher or any midrange (and above) Android phone. According to Facebook, the latest in machine learning techniques has made this feature possible. The company first unveiled 3D Photos in late 2018, when it required either a dual-camera phone or a depth map file on the desktop. Continue reading Facebook’s 3D Photos Now Available for All Latest Handsets

Robots Look Friendly But Surveil, Manage Staff in Workplaces

Humans fear the very real possibility of robots replacing them in work environments, so manufacturers are doubling down on designing those robots to look friendly rather than threatening. As University of Central Florida professor Peter Hancock puts it, “it’s like Mary Poppins … a spoonful of sugar makes the robots go down.” Even if they don’t replace humans, robots already in the workplace are working in management, tracking workers’ every move, telling them to work faster, and even docking their pay. Continue reading Robots Look Friendly But Surveil, Manage Staff in Workplaces

Samsung Reveals More Details About Concept Robot Ballie

At its CES 2020 keynote address, Samsung introduced Ballie, an autonomous small sphere with built-in camera, microphone and speaker that moves by rolling. Samsung Think Tank Team co-founder/head Sajid Sadi, who is also Samsung vice president of research, described the Team’s vision for Ballie. Sadi noted that the first two issues regarding Ballie were “mobility and personality.” The small robot needed to be able to travel over many different floor types and couldn’t intimidate children or pets. Continue reading Samsung Reveals More Details About Concept Robot Ballie

CES 2020: ‘Robots for Good’ Advocates See Hopeful Future

A conference on “Robots for Good” sought to allay increased fears that robot overlords will soon rule the world and make humans redundant in the workforce. UC Berkeley professor Ken Goldberg, who heads a robotics lab there, spoke about his “radically hopeful vision of the future.” Robots will not replace humans, he said, but rather enable people to focus on what they do best: creativity, innovation, empathy and other inherent human traits. Goldberg also put the fear of robots in historical perspective. Continue reading CES 2020: ‘Robots for Good’ Advocates See Hopeful Future

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