With another week coming to a wrap, let’s have a quick glance on the top 10 happenings of the tech world this week.
Amazon.com is all ready to give Apple’s Siri a run for its money as the giant has finally made available the technology powering Alexa, its voice assistant, to help developers build innovative chat features into their own apps. The easy-to-use, cost effective service, is called Amazon Lex, and it has been in the preview phase since late last year.
A service for building conversational interfaces into any application using voice and text, Amazon Lex provides the advanced deep learning functionalities of automatic speech recognition (ASR) for converting speech to text, and natural language understanding (NLU) to recognize the intent of the text. This enables developers all around the world to build applications that offer lifelike conversational interactions and phenomenally engaging user experiences.
With Amazon Lex, Amazon had made available the same deep learning technologies that power Amazon Alexa to any developer, enabling them to easily and quickly build sophisticated, natural language chatbots.
A team of researchers that includes a scientist of Indian origin have found out that Artificial Intelligence systems are capable of acquiring cultural, racial and gender biases when they’re trained with ordinary human language available online.
The study published in Science found out that a machine learning algorithm without any supervision learns to associate black names as being more unpleasant than white names and female names more with family words than career words.
Nowadays, machine learning algorithms have become so common a thing that they influence everything right from scanning names on long lists to translation etc. The research found out that unfortunately the biases have also become pervasive. These biases range from the objectionable views of gender and race to the morally neutral, like a preference for flowers over insects.
According to experts, even though Air and Water are two of the most important elements needed for human survival but they’re also two of the most neglected elements by the human population. As long as we’re getting a continuous supply, we really do not care about the quality we’re consuming and quantity left for future consumption. This in itself is an alarming frame of thought.
Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), which is mainly known for helping organisations monitor industrial assets can prove to be a great asset when it comes to performing environmental monitoring.
Experts claim that robust IIoT technologies can effectively help in air and water monitoring if done through via proven-in-the-field sensors and technology, like adaptable power sources, and industry-standard sensor protocols and languages (RS-232, 4-20mA, 0-10V). For example, the IIoT can be powered by 110- or 220-volt standard mains power to monitor air and water for human safety.
Software-giant Microsoft has finally given enterprises the power of setting up their own IoT deployments without having to depend on an in-house expertise for deploying a cloud-based IoT solution from the ground.
The company recently unveiled IoT Central, a new Internet of Things (IoT) service that will allow enterprises to differentiate their services from its competitors. It has been seen, that even though IoT is such a big differentiator, an enterprise needs to shell out big bucks for the same as it requires a broad set of skill sets to implement these IoT solutions. This isn’t necessarily possible for a lot of enterprises. Enter IoT Central.
In addition to IoT Central, Bill Gates’ Microsoft has also decided to bring its Azure Stream Analytics to edge devices, which will make provisioning new IoT devices much easier than it is currently. Further, the giant has also decided to work on a completely new analytics service for time series data. It looks like the software giant is looking to provide a number of new offerings that are complementary to its existing Azure IoT Suite.
The week saw the Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management, Kerala (IIITM-K) and IBM coming together to announce the development of a real-time water quality management system – ‘Swatchpaani‘. The system, powered by IBM Watson Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, will continuously monitor water quality and measure temperature, pH and the presence of various metal/non-metal substances in the water.
A new project on Indiegogo, Travis the Translator is a simple, portable translation device that supports over 80 languages when it has a Wi-Fi connection or a SIM in it, and 20 languages in its offline mode. It’s stripped-down UI makes it easy for people to select what languages they want to work with. Further, it can even auto-detect languages.
According to the team, they’re planning to start a trial production very soon, then go towards mass production in May or June, and finally deliver it to the backers by July. A retail launch is also on the cards later this year but they first aim to test and learn with initial users.
The week saw HTC sending out a mysterious flyer announcing something’s happening on May 16th. The flyer further had a tagline “Squeeze for the brilliant U.”
According to experts, HTC is talking about its upcoming phone which was earlier called Ocean but is most likely to be officially called the HTC U. What’s make the phone unique is a feature called “Edge Sense” that will involve touching sensors embedded in the frame around the phone to interact with it. In other words, HTC U users will be able to interact with their phones by simply squeezing it.
It has been five long years that Intel and Micron Technology first started working on a new-generation memory technology called 3D XPoint. One can describe it as the best of the speed of DRAM and the capacity of traditional flash storage. Though it is comparatively expensive per gigabyte than NAND flash, which is the current technology inside SSDs, but it’s surely faster in every way possible, especially when it comes to reading/writing small bits of data and latency.
After 5 years of hard work, Intel has now finally started shipping its first product with the new technology: the 375GB Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X.
Though the 3D XPoint won’t be taking over the NAND or RAM markets anytime soon, but they’re surely going to be facing some stiff competition.
Facebook’s Building 8 research group, which is headed by ex-DARPA director and former head of Google’s experimental research group Regina Dugan, is currently working on a technology that will allow people to hear with their skin. Yes, you read it right.
The social networking giant is hopeful that the technology could not only help deaf people communicate better, but also could in a way advance communications for people who can already hear, allowing for such things as a conversation to be automatically translated into another language.
Though Facebook hasn’t been very forthcoming about revealing all the details about the project, but according to what little facts are available, the technology won’t actually enable someone to “hear” a word, but will allow them to feel a vibration associated with it, which they can learn to understand over a period of time.
A to-do list is still considered as the most effective of making things done and ensuring that you don’t forget an important task in a sea of pending work. Since its the digital age, maintaining a physical to-do list and scouting for it every now and then is a thing of passé, nowadays you can make efficient to-do list right on your smartphones/tablets/computers with the help of a number of to-do list apps. One such app which previewed this week was Microsoft’s Microsoft To-Do.
While on first look, Microsoft To-Do looks like any other to-do app but a longer looks reveals some striking researchers to Wunderlist. In fact, Microsoft To-Do even offers the ability import existing Wunderlist lists. So, it is most likely that Microsoft has finally made its mind to say bye to Wunderlist and make way for a better to-do app, Microsoft To-Do.