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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Nest Protect Expands on IFTTT

Today an update of IFTTT capabilities for interacting with Nest-Protect sensor devices in the home. IFTTT lets you add layers of simple intelligence to the smart home (or business) based on streams of information from the an IOT.  As a simple example you could have all the lights in a home blink when Smoke or Carbon Monoxide is detected by a sensor.   Or notifications sent to an address.

Plan to experiment with these in our Smart Home.    More examples of this kind here.  It is recommended to understand the capabilities of IFTTT.  I have a number of applets in operation.

Retail Implications for Alexa on iPhone

Seems it just increases choice and lets competition play out. May well drive Siri to more shopping options as well.  Asking for trivia does not pay out.   I would bet that Amazon knows more now about how to make voice channel shopping work.

What happens now that Alexa is on the iPhone?    by Tom Ryan   In Retailwire: 
In a move onto Siri’s turf, Amazon has added Alexa to its iOS shopping app, letting users chat with the virtual assistant through an iPhone or iPad.

Alexa users will need to open the Amazon app and then press a microphone icon to converse with Alexa. Previously, the microphone icon allowed voice commands to be used to search for products and check up on orders, but the update provides access to almost all of the capabilities of Amazon’s speaker devices such as the Echo, Dot and Tap.  .... "   (Discussion) 

My List and survey of virtual shopping assistants.

Rallying Around Common Goals

A most important topic,  even more so today in our heavily interacting world.   Focus.

Podcast:   In Knowledge@Wharton
Meaningful Work: What Leaders Can Learn from NASA and the Space Race  ... 

New Wharton research looks at how thousands of NASA employees with vastly different roles were able to rally around the common goal of a lunar landing in the 1960s.  ...  "

Google Maps Location Sharing

Google Maps Location Sharing is being rolled out.  Google had a service like this some time ago, that allowed you to very selectively share your instantaneous location among trusted 'friends and family'.   We examined it for possible commercial applications.  Its back again,  with it appears, more alerting and selectivity about sharing.   Privacy considerations. Might it be used for things like ride or delivery sharing?  API for linking to commercial supply chain systems?  It is noted in Wired that they are gathering location data.

Amazon Powers Prime Now with Alexa Voice

Still wondering how broadly this will increase shopping volume, and the degree to a which voice channel convenience will influence this.   Essentially provides two hour delivery in 30 US markets via voice.

In Chain Store Age: 
" ... Amazon announced on Tuesday that Prime Now subscribers can now use Alexa to order from Prime Now and its two-hour delivery service in the cities where it is available (30 in total at the present time).

In addition, customers can also order from Prime Now’s newly launched alcohol delivery service in the markets where it is offered.

“Bringing Prime Now to Alexa voice shopping combines two of the most innovative shopping technologies available for an experience that our customers are going to wonder how they ever lived without,” stated Assaf Ronen, VP of voice shopping, Amazon. “We’re excited to offer the full Prime Now catalogue with Alexa, including tens of thousands of items, ... " 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Customer Engagement in the Cognitive Era

Watson Customer Engagement  

Watson Marketing. Watson Commerce. Watson Supply Chain
Every touchpoint is an opportunity to engage customers. Are you ready? Watson Customer Engagement offerings deliver a broad range of capabilities for marketing, commerce and supply chain activities. Designed to complement the skills of forward-thinking professionals like you. To empower you to make better, more informed decisions. Create and deliver personalized, intuitive experiences at every stage of the customer journey. Armed with insights, you can be at the forefront of what’s next—now. .... " 

Under way:  

.....  Amplify 2017 and discover how to redefine customer engagement in the Cognitive era. Learn how Cognitive is transforming customer engagement to make each customer feel recognized and special at every step of their journey. ... " 

Companies Leading the AI Revolution

An interesting piece, with a number of players I just heard of.

In KDNuggets:     By Thuy T. Pham, U. of Sydney.

 .... We detail the list of top 50 companies in Artificial Intelligence according to CBInsights. This list was KDnuggets most popular tweet recently, but the tweet only had the image and no company names or details. Here we list companies by category  and in the order of high to low equity funding in each group. Company overview (e.g., headquarters location and total equity funding raised)  is based on information as it have appeared  on crunchbase.com (as of 8 March 2017). .... " 

Smartphone Mechanics

Good thoughts.  Don't know how practical this is of yet,  but it maps out what standards and capabilities exist today.   A good starting point for using your phone as an automotive maintenance predictive device.   Also a good indicator of what you need for other systems.

Your smartphone: The mechanic in your pocket
You can use your Android or iOS device to gain access to a wealth of information about your vehicle’s operation.   ... By Michael Connell, Computerworld 

Issues of Face Recognition

Had always thought that bio face recognition would make us more secure.  But improvements in AI based systems may change this.

It's time to face the ugly reality of face recognition
The use of A.I. to recognize faces is growing fast. Here's why you should be worried about your personal privacy.   By Mike Elgan

Walmart Incubates Buzzword Solutions

Giving it more direct access to rapidly emerging technologies.

Walmart is opening its own tech incubator in Silicon Valley
The retail giant wants to get a foothold in emerging technologies.  by Andrew Dalton ... 


" ... According to Jet.com founder Marc Lore -- now CEO of Walmart's e-commerce division -- the group will be called "Store No. 8" and will focus on investing in companies that cover all the buzzwords from virtual and augmented reality, to machine learning, robotics and artificial intelligence. .... " 

IBM Does Commercial Blockchains

Broad group of uses for the enterprise.

IBM Goes Live With First Commercial Blockchains
Michael del Castillo (@DelRayMan) |

Tech giant IBM is set to unveil what it's calling the first "commercial application" of Hyperledger’s open-source Fabric codebase.

Previously released in beta and scheduled for official release today, the offering – dubbed "IBM Blockchain" – is formally debuting in front of a group of 20,000 developers at the Interconnect conference. There, its first two major deployments will also be detailed.

One of those is a blockchain identity solution built with SecureKey, in which it will power a public-private partnership that saw six Canadian banks invest $27m. In addition, it will be revealed that a Chinese energy company is using the IBM Blockchain to create an exchange for trading carbon credits.

In conversation with CoinDesk, Jerry Cuomo, IBM's vice-president of blockchain technologies, described how the company used Hyperledger's open-source code to create a series of new features, which are now in use as part of its IBM Blockchain product. .... " 

Monday, March 20, 2017

More on Samsung Bixby Assistants

With backstory, and an indication of Samsung's considerable investment into AI.   Plus integration into more devices.  Seems a competitive position as advisory and smart home leverage.  Worth following.

Galaxy S8 and beyond: Samsung bets big on Bixby's AI
The digital voice assistant will debut soon on Samsung's next flagship phone, and the company plans to quickly add it to more products.  ... " 

And more on Bixby capabilities.    

My List and survey of personal assistants.

Stickers vs SnapChat

Can Apple’s new iMessage ad convince you that stickers are as cool as Snapchat?   There is a heavy history of the use of stickers, especially in Japan.   Difficult prediction to make.  Heavily advertised now in the US college basketball season.  by Chaim Gartenberg @cgartenberg

Apple and Augmented Reality

In CW: Some thoughts and speculations about how Apple might implement augmented reality.   Outside the obvious game spaces.  Apparently in evidence by their recent hires in the VR space and investments in parallel.   by Jonny Evans.

Samsung Unveils Bixby as Assistant


Another new virtual advisor emerges,  it seems  now just for the S8 phone and competing with Siri.  and Google Assistant.  Can we also expect this on TVs and addressing the Smart Home and other appliances?   Is likely.   Description positions it in an interesting way,   In Engadget: 

" ... It was only a matter of time until Samsung launched a full-fledged virtual assistant of its very own -- "S Voice" just never quite cut it. Today the company unveiled Bixby, a new assistant that'll debut with the Galaxy S8 on March 29th. Naturally, it's meant to help Samsung differentiate itself from Apple's Siri and Google's Assistant. Bixby seems different on a conceptual level: It's meant to serve as a new voice-based interface for controlling your apps, rather than just something that you can ask a few questions.

"Instead of humans learning how the machine interacts with the world (a reflection of the abilities of designers), it is the machine that needs to learn and adapt to us," Samsung senior vice president InJong Rhee wrote in a blog post. "The interface must be natural and intuitive enough to flatten the learning curve regardless of the number of functions being added. With this new approach, Samsung has employed artificial intelligence, reinforcing deep learning concepts to the core of our user interface designs."  ,,,, "  

Alexa Delivers Medical Advice via WebMD

An example where an advisory system is essentially just replacing a long existing web service.  With the convenience of voice interaction. With no additional conversational interaction as yet implied.    A deeper connection to health data would be more interesting,  but like the online version would have deeper implications and liability risk.  Perhaps an interaction with your Doctor's network?

Alexa will now give you medical advice, courtesy of WebMD   by James Vincent   @jjvincent 
Amazon’s Alexa already boasts more than 10,000 skills, but has now added medical advice to its repertoire. WebMD announced today that it’s launched its own skill for all Alexa-enabled devices (including the Echo, Echo Dot, and Fire TV), which can answer basic health-related queries. Topics include treatments for common ailments (“Alexa, ask WebMD how to treat a sore throat”), definitions of basic diseases (“Alexa, ask WebMD what diabetes is”), and the side effects of certain drugs (“Alexa, ask WebMD to tell me about amoxicillin”).

WebMD stresses that, like its website, the new Alexa skill is only meant to offer supplementary information, and adds that the software is a work-in-progress.   ... "

Interpreting Machine Learning

By their nature the results from deep learning and neural methods can be non transparent. Via O'Reilly.

Ideas on interpreting machine learning
Mix-and-match approaches for visualizing data and interpreting machine learning models and results.   By Patrick Hall, Wen Phan,  SriSatish Ambati   .... " 

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Google Tango Location is Testing at Lowes

Been a long time tester of retail location intelligence solutions.  Now news that Lowes is starting to test Google Tango location intelligence using augmented reality on phones.    Have also mentioned the interior space model building technology that Google is using a number of times here.   Again, impressed with Lowes broad use of new tech.  In CNet:

Google Tango means you'll never get lost in a store again ... Some Lowe's stores are testing out an augmented-reality app that shows the fastest way to get to your items. .... " 

See also Lowe's work on robotics and AR based DIY instruction at the tag below.

Will we be Dinosaurs in Three Years?

Reminds me of things said at the end of the last AI up tick ... Wildly exaggerated.   Most of us will use it rather than develop it. Mark Cuban via  Via O'Reilly.

Gadget Earth Video

A video view of the personalities and capabilities of drones and other semi autonomous gadgets out of the recent CES conference.   From the Verge.     Impressive.

" ... Wandering the halls of CES 2017 recently with video director William Joel, we were not only struck by how many different “breeds” of gadgets there are in the world, but also by just how many of those gadgets — particularly the robots and drones — seem to have unique personalities all their own. The wire and plexiglass that surrounded them made them look like wild animals in captivity. ... " 

Smartphones Revolutionizing Medicine

In the CACM:  New details on gow smrtphone devices are changing medicine and health data.

Will AI Transform Retail Marketing?

Will AI Transform Retail Marketing?   by Tom Ryan In Retailwire:   Discussion.

A survey from Sailthru finds more retailers using artificial intelligence (AI) to support marketing purposes.

The survey of more than 200 retail marketers showed that of the 66 percent who leverage AI for marketing purposes, the most common applications are in search (37 percent), product recommendations (33 percent), and programmatic advertising and data science (both 26 percent).

Still, the marketers leveraging AI in one or more channels/methods weren’t much more likely to have met or exceeded their 2016 marketing goals. Sailthru said this suggests “not all applications and methods are equally useful, and that simply employing AI-based solutions is not sufficient for marketing success.”  .... " 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Alexa and Roomba in the Smart Home

We worked with the Roomba concept.  Though I liked the idea, never found it useful enough to add to our smart home .... Will it be more useful enough when voice controlled?

With Alexa integration and mapping, iRobot aims to make Roomba the center of the smart home by Brian Heater

" ... iRobot CEO Colin Angle has been repeating for some time now that the next step in the evolution of the company’s hit Roomba vacuum is becoming a connective tissue for the smart home. This morning’s announcement from the company takes it a couple of steps closer to that dream, introducing Alexa voice integration and advances to the robotic vacuum’s mapping system that lay the groundwork for future smart home upgrades.

“Roombas are already becoming one of the commonly found connected devices in the home,” Angle tells TechCrunch. “The popularity of the Roomba has made it a very powerful ambassador for connected devices, but its ability to organize physical information in the home is making it a central player in allowing homes to be more intelligent. You need to be aware of where things are in order to have a home do the right thing without programming it.” .... " 

Cars Learning

 More broadly, what kinds of things can cars learn to make them better and cheaper?   Gets to better understanding the consumer needs and related processes.   Have been there.

Machine Learning and Data Are Fueling a New Kind of Car
Here’s why Intel just offered $15.3 billion for Mobileye, an Israeli company that specializes in machine vision and learning for cars.  ... by Will Knight ...

Amazon Outfit Compare

We worked on a number of related virtual comparison ideas over the years.    Aimed at things like eyeware and cosmetics.  None were completely successful.   Can Amazon crack this by funneling their large customer base through this?   What is the conversation needed?

Amazon will now tell Prime members what to wear via a new “Outfit Compare” feature  by Sarah Perez (@sarahintampa)   In Techcrunch: 

Amazon has been steadily pushing its way into fashion over the past several years, with investments in its own private labels – from workwear to activewear – plus increased fashion ad spending and even its own trend-obsessed TV show, Style Code Live. Now the online retailer is looking to dole out its fashion advice to the masses, too, through a new feature called “Outfit Compare,” which is currently available to Prime members.

In the latest version of the Amazon shopping app, Prime members will find “Outfit Compare” in the sidebar navigation under the “Programs and Features” section.

This is the area where Amazon often rolls out its newer services and offerings, like Restaurants, Launchpad, Watch & Shop, Dash buttons and, more recently, its curated recommendations storefront dubbed “Interesting Finds.” ... "

Friday, March 17, 2017

Singularity by 2045?

Says Kurzweil,  Google's Director of Engineering.  Will that mean Google Drive will be the approved recepticle?  Google Analytics the means of  understanding?  Deep Mind the means for running offline? Very ambitious I think.  Google presents the Singularity Cloud! But if so, there is lots to figure out before then.

Bots Build their Own Language

More on applications of reinforcement.    We did something similar using a genetic driver, but no mention of that here.  Would that improve learning?

It Begins: Bots are Learning to Chat in their own Language   by Cade Metz  In Wired: 

" .... As detailed in a research paper published by OpenAI this week, Mordatch and his collaborators created a world where bots are charged with completing certain tasks, like moving themselves to a particular landmark. The world is simple, just a big white square—all of two dimensions—and the bots are colored shapes: a green, red, or blue circle. But the point of this universe is more complex. The world allows the bots to create their own language as a way collaborating, helping each other complete those tasks.

All this happens through what’s called reinforcement learning, the same fundamental technique that underpinned AlphaGo, the machine from Google’s DeepMind AI lab that cracked the ancient game of Go. Basically, the bots navigate their world through extreme trial and error, carefully keeping track of what works and what doesn’t as they reach for a reward, like arriving at a landmark. If a particular action helps them achieve that reward, they know to keep doing it. In this same way, they learn to build their own language. Telling each other where to go helps them all get places more quickly. .... " 

Deep Mind Memory Trick

A deeper yet biomimicry?

How DeepMind’s Memory Trick Helps AI Learn Faster
While AI systems can match many human capabilities, they take 10 times longer to learn. Now, by copying the way the brain works, Google DeepMind has built a machine that is closing the gap.

by Emerging Technology from the arXiv  March 16, 2017 .... 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

UPS Testing Drones

How can they attached to the supply chain? Nests in the truck roof?   Discussion:  In Retailwire:

Can UPS fly past Amazon in drone delivery?  by Matthew Stern

Amazon has grabbed many of the recent headlines with its efforts to use technology to eventually dominate last-mile logistics. But other big names in delivery are not sitting idly by, as seen by UPS’s latest move.

UPS has begun testing a delivery truck that acts as a mobile drone base, Business Insider reported. The vehicle features a drone “nest” on the roof which houses a drone capable of flying for 30 minutes and carrying 10 pounds. The roof-mounted drone is meant to reduce the number of miles driven to deliver packages.

The idea of using a mobile base for drones has gotten popular as the industry tries to figure out a working paradigm for drone-based delivery. Last year, Amazon filed a patent for technology that enables drones to be deployed from a “floating warehouse” airship and another that uses lampposts and churches as perches for delivery drones.  .... "

Conversation: Beyond Moments of Truth

Its all about conversation.    It used to be about 'moments of truth',  but now more about much more fluid conversations that can be generated and sustained by initial interaction.  That interaction can come from data, Bots, intelligent prediction, even old fashion marketing.    Sometimes all of these can be analytically combined to produce something very prescriptive.   CustomerThink talks this:

In CustomerThink
Turning Data to Conversations: Intelligent Marketing  .... "

McKinsey on Home Bots

Good piece, though ultimately driving the smart home will need many new 'things' present to influence digitally.  We have started to see examples with Cortana, Alexa and Google Home.   Which all start with easy applications.  Delivering music, news and other 'radio' and web type services.   Specific controllable devices like the Nest.    Still a considerable way to go to drive the home with Bots. Standards are still not there.

Article - McKinsey Quarterly - January 2017
A smart home is where the bot is
By Jean-Baptiste Coumau, Hiroto Furuhashi, and Hugo Sarrazin

Within a decade, our living spaces will be enhanced by a host of new devices and technologies, performing a range of household functions and redefining what it means to feel at home.

The promise of devices that not only meet our household needs but anticipate them as well has been around for decades. To date, that promise remains largely unfulfilled. Advances such as the Nest thermostat by Alphabet (parent company to Google) and Amazon’s Alexa personal assistant are notable, but the home-technology market as a whole remains fragmented, and the potential for a truly smart home is still unrealized. .... "  

AI Dangers and Risks

Continued talk on the topic.

AI Dangers: Imagined and Real  By Devdatt Dubhashi, Shalom Lappin
Communications of the ACM, Vol. 60 No. 2, Pages 43-45
10.1145/2953876

AI Driven Automation in Law

In some ways, the most obvious application.   A heavily document and analysis driven world.   Was frequently mentioned in the 80s, but not implemented because the analysis of meaning in documents was very imperfect.

AI automation starts to transform legal profession

Artificial intelligence and automation are making inroads into legal work, but are more likely to support than displace lawyers and will draw IT more into legal service delivery

In February 2016, a London court supported the use of predictive coding software in a legal disclosure process, which often involves lawyers receiving huge volumes of documents from those representing the other side in a case.  ... 

In Pyrrho Investments v MWB Business Exchange, Master Paul Matthews of the Chancery division supported the use of software in scoring documents for relevance. He found there was no evidence that software would be less accurate than manual review and keyword searches. He added that software could provide greater consistency in searching more than 3 million documents that could be involved in the disclosure. A final reason was that both sides had agreed to the use of the software, which would be much cheaper than a manual search – they just wanted the court’s approval. ...  "