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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

More Unattended Delivery by Latch for Wal-Mart

So its not only Amazon doing unattended delivery with specialized door locks.   Jet (Now part of Wal-Mart)  has also started to do it with smart access startup Latch.  At least in some areas this looks to be spreading quickly.  Will I see several such locks on a door?  Will this mean that many will jump in to secure this channel?  Good detail in the article.

Latch touts first deliveries via NY Jet.com smart access tie-up
 by Natasha Lomas (@riptari) in Techcrunch

In July b2b smart access startup Latch announced a partnership with ecommerce platform Jet.com to install 1,000 of its smart locks on residential apartment buildings in New York. It’s now announced the first “secure, unattended deliveries” enabled by the installations.

Writing in the customary Medium post, co-founder Luke Schoenfelder says Latch-enabled unattended deliveries kicked off on Monday — and are currently available for “thousands” of New Yorkers (though installations attached to this partnership are still continuing, so it’s not yet completed the full batch).

“Thousands of people in New York City are able to order anything they want from our partners online and know that they can return home to their packages without the threat of theft, inclement weather, or the dreaded ‘sorry we missed you’ door tag,” says Schoenfelder.  .... " 

Select Practical Articles on Clustering

A Group of 14 articles on clustering tutorials, applications and methods.  One of the most common used analytic methods.  All levels of technical coverage From Data Science Central.  Worth signing up for their newsletters, useful and challenging.   Posted by Vincent Granville.

Popular Mechanic's Take on AI

 Popular Mechanics (founded 1902), read this magazine years ago, it is where I heard of predictions of completely automatic butler robots.  Available very soon.  Well that has yet to happen.   My Echo and Home do play music, open and close the garage door.   But no Butler skills.   Here is their current take on the state of AI.    Non Technical.   Seems like a much more sober take.   But can we trust it better today than I could back then?

Google Does Conferencing, Needs Assistant

Below described an announced  business extension of Hangouts. It would seem that a natural next step would combine this with Google Assistant.   A Google Home listening in?  A simple example might have the attentive assistant construct a 'to do' list from the conversation.  Beyond that,  the assistant could do followup research for the call based on a knowledge graph of participants and the goals of the meeting.    Post the results and suggest other participants and future sub tasks.  The big value could be in assistant software rather than just hardware.

Google's video conferencing kit gets an AI camera and display
Chromebox for meetings now comes packaged with upgraded hardware.

by Saqib Shah, @eightiethmnt  in Engadget

A Theory of Origami

A continued follow of the idea, we examined it for possible packaging applications.

The Atomic Theory of Origami  In Quantum Magazine
By Marcus Woo    Contributing Writer

By re imagining the kinks and folds of origami as atoms in a lattice, researchers are uncovering strange behavior hiding in simple structures. .... "

Global Trade Powered by AI

Another example of Analytics, AI and the supply chain.   We were winning awards for applications in this area back in the 90s,  always glad to see new examples.

Global Trade Is Powered by Artificial Intelligence

By Steve Banker , Contributor to Forbes

I’ve been researching the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in supply chain applications.  As I’ve written articles on this topic, vendors have reached out to me to explain what they are doing in this area.  Randy Rotchin, the CEO of 3CE Technologies, is one example.  3CE is a Montreal-based global trade management (GTM) software company. 3CE specializes in automating the processes of Harmonized System (HS) commodity classification and HS code verification.

The HS is a commodity description and coding system, which forms the basis upon which all goods are identified for customs, and is used by customs authorities worldwide.  Using the right HS code allows companies to pay the correct tariffs. And paying the right tariffs are necessary to avoid government fines, which in some cases can run into the millions of dollars, calculating the true landed cost of products, and identifying promising selling and sourcing opportunities abroad.  The problem, Mr. Rotchin pointed out, “is that there is an incredible gap between how products are described commercially by trade and how they are expressed in the national customs tariff schedules. ” This has resulted in error rates of 30%, according to several government sources. Worse, every country or trading bloc has its own taxonomy beyond the international 6-digit level.

Mr. Rotchin gave me several examples of the non-intuitiveness of HS codes.  What a regular person would describe as “baby food” in HS speak is known as a “homogenized composite food preparation;” a “hair blower” is an “electrothermic hair dressing apparatus;” before you can classify “rayon” you have to know whether this is an “artificial” or a “synthetic” fiber; and if you were classifying an automotive part, like a car alarm, you might think you would go to the section of the HS code focused on automobiles, but no – this is an electronic signaling device.

Traditionally, HS classification has been a manual exercise performed by highly-trained experts.  When a big importer loses one of their trade classification staff, they’ve lost domain knowledge that is difficult to replace. Smaller companies often rely on custom brokers to do this, but if the custom broker classifies an item incorrectly, it is the importer of record that is legally liable. .... " 

Customer Experience Value Creation

Some basic questions ...

What is Customer Experience Value Creation? Featured Column by CustomerThink Advisor
By Lynn Hunsaker  

  Customer experience value is seldom quantified from the customer’s viewpoint. We explore it through customer journey mapping, customer advisory boards, surveys, user experience testing, and so forth. Even so, we still may not be sizing it up from their perspective.

Customer experience value creation occurs when you empower customers to achieve their goals with greater satisfaction in a win-win approach.

Customer experience value creation is creating mutual value for your whole customer base in any part of the end-to-end customer experience, across the full customer life cycle, spanning customers’ entire dealings with your organization, products, services, channels and affiliations. It’s value as seen by the customer, relative to their alternatives, relative to all the costs they endure, and relative to the outcomes they’re pursuing.  .... "

On the State of Healthcare Robotics

Very good overview,  with recent advances and challenges.

Healthcare Robotics   by Laurel D. Riek 

Communications of the ACM, Vol. 60 No. 11, Pages 68-78

The use of robots in healthcare represents an exciting opportunity to help a large number of people. Robots can be used to enable people with cognitive, sensory, and motor impairments, help people who are ill or injured, support caregivers, and aid the clinical workforce. This article highlights several recent advancements on these fronts, and discusses their impact on stakeholders. It also outlines several key technological, logistical, and design challenges faced in healthcare robot adoption, and suggests possible avenues for overcoming them. ...   "

Overview video:  https://vimeo.com/236438003

Monday, October 30, 2017

Evolving Technologies for Social: Hootsuite

Certainly the case in the typical information ecology most of exist within.   Thus a challenge for many organizations.  Though I rarely hear it expressed.    A lengthy and technical conversation.
In ACM Queue   Volume 15, issue 3
Hootsuite: In Pursuit of Reactive Systems

A discussion with Edward Steel, Yanik Berube, Jonas Bonér, Ken Britton, and Terry Coatta

Based in Vancouver, Canada, Hootsuite is the most widely used SaaS (software as a service) platform for managing social media. Since its humble beginnings in 2008, Hootsuite has grown into a billion-dollar company with more than 15 million users around the globe.

As Hootsuite evolved over the years, so did the technology stack. A key change was moving from LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) to microservices. A shift to microservices didn't come without its challenges, however. In this roundtable chat, we discuss how Scala and Lightbend (which offers a reactive application development platform) were an essential part of a successful transition. The exchange includes Jonas Bonér, CTO of Lightbend; Terry Coatta, CTO of Marine Learning Systems; Edward Steel, senior Scala developer at Hootsuite; Yanik Berube, lead software developer at Hootsuite; and Ken Britton, senior director of software development at Hootsuite.

TERRY COATTA I'm curious about the original set of problems Hootsuite was looking to address in the switch to microservices. Can you provide some detail?

EDWARD STEEL Mostly, it had to do with our ability to send out notifications to user mobile devices whenever something relevant happened on Twitter. By the time we started having some concerns about how we were handling that, we were already servicing several hundreds of thousands of users, each with individual subscriptions tailored to their own specific interests. What was needed was something that could stay connected to Twitter's streaming endpoints.

TC I gather that at about the same time you were making this move, you also took steps to move from PHP to Scala. What drove that?

ES Initially, it had a lot to do with learning about all the success some other organizations had experienced with Scala. This was after Twitter had decided to go with Scala, for example, and that obviously lent a lot of legitimacy to it. Also, the first team here to work with Scala came from quite a varied background. We had some people who were lobbying for a more strongly typed functional language—something on the order of Haskell—and then there were some others with Clojure and Java experience. In taking all that into account, I guess Scala just seemed to check most of the boxes.
   ... "

Wal-Mart and Bossa Nova Robotics

Much more on Wal-Mart's testing of robotics for in store tasks in 50 stores, such as scanning, auditing and stocking decision support.   The shelf can become smart through external scanning.  Also mention of a company Bossa Nova Robotics, which is being tested.  Quite more at the Bossa Nova site, including video of their systems in operation.   No indication of interactions with shoppers.   Very much retail oriented, they write: 

" ... Safe & friendly

A store is a busy place, so we know how important it is that our robot has a sense of its surroundings. That’s why it can detect objects in an aisle, like boxes, your cart, even you! It will wait for you to pass and then keep scanning the shelves when all is clear.

Here to help

Our robot takes care of the tedious shelf-auditing tasks, allowing employees to focus on more important things like… you! It also provides vital information about different departments, making your store run smoother and more efficiently. Associates say they can’t imagine life without it.

Shelf focused

The action is on the shelves side! To make sure you always find your favorite chips, our robot scans the shelves diligently and reports what is missing.  Its sole job is finding empty spaces on shelves and keeping those chips available for you.  .... 

They make in an interesting suggestion:

 ... Nice to meet you

Look out for your new neighborhood robot on your next visit to your local store. Feel free to snap a selfie and post it on Instagram. Don’t forget to copy us   @BNRobotics  .... " 

Video Example:   https://video.twimg.com/tweet_video/DNJjrCbUEAE2aPb.mp4

See the comparison to solutions like: Storeflix.  Simpler, but less automated.

Cortana Home Assistant Review

Extensive look at the just released Invoke Cortana home system to compete with the Alexa and Google Home examples,  I have tested Cortana in a business environment since its release.  Still waiting for some useful examples., even obvious examples for Windows help seem weak.  I would have expected some attentive assistance as well, are they still running shy of the paperclip failure?

Also interesting there is no indication of its reported alliance with Alexa.  Following.  Some have suggested that Alexa could deal with the home side, and Invoke the business.  But it looks here that Invoke is taking the existing successful assistant approach, emphasizing music delivery.  The Invoke system can make calls, and is connected to Microsoft's Skype.

Harman Kardon Invoke review: Cortana isn’t too comfortable in the home yet    Microsoft needs to do some tweaking to make Cortana a better at-home assistant.

By Valentina Palladino in Ars Technica ...

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Amazon and Digital Ad Plaforms

As always with useful commentary at the link.

Will Amazon conquer digital advertising platforms next?   By Kiri Masters in Retailwire

Brands and retailers are shifting major advertising budgets to the Amazon platform at the expense of incumbents like Google and Facebook. Relative to other advertising channels, brands can reach customers at a low cost via Amazon, and the path to purchase is very short. Gold Eagle Company, an automotive aftermarket manufacturer, sees a $5 return on every $1 spent on Amazon Sponsored Products compared to a break-even result with Google Adwords.

One equity analyst predicts Amazon will quadruple its advertising revenue by 2020. This would take Amazon’s estimated share of the digital advertising industry spend from around 3.5 percent in 2016 to over 10 percent by 2020 based on eMarketer estimates.  .... " 

Planning for AI

Do you plan for direct value delivery, people augmentation, to replace people, or to provide outright magic ?

Planning for AI
What you need know before committing to AI.

By Mike Loukides 

Do you have your AI strategy? If you don't, be prepared to lose. Or at least, so say the consultants, tech journalists, and pundits. You can't possibly be a competitive modern company without an AI strategy.

We are the last people to say that AI isn't important, or that having an AI strategy isn't a good thing—or even that, if you don’t start thinking about AI initiatives now, you’ll end up behind. Artificial intelligence is a game changer: it’s a revolutionary cluster of technologies that has the potential to make fundamental changes in how we live and work. However, much of what we read gets the cart before the horse. An AI strategy, if it's just an AI strategy, doesn't get you very much. An AI strategy that’s just an AI strategy is a weird managerial superstition: pour magic AI sauce over everything, and it will be awesome.

It needs to be said, though it should go without saying: don't build an AI strategy without first thinking about your business objectives. Better: incorporate AI into your business strategies rather than building an AI strategy. Think about how AI can help you achieve your goals; don’t make it a goal in itself. On her blog Quam Proxime, Kathryn Hume counsels established enterprises against the temptation to become “AI-first.” Instead, they should be “something-else-first-with-an-AI-twist.” Enterprises need AI systems to work smart, to take advantage of their data, to learn about and improve on their past performance. Enterprises don’t need AI to become something new that they don’t yet understand. They need AI to build on the strengths they already have, and become what they already are, but better. That’s how to be innovative and transformational; and if, along the way, you come up with ideas and products that disrupt your current practices (and your industry), so much the better. ... "

Google Goggles as early Augmented Reality

We took an early look at using a camera interface to 'search',  say how much inventory there was on a shelf, or if an ad could be seen in a magazine, or order a product from an ad without any code.  Gooogle Googles was considered.  But there didn't seem to be much interest in taking Google Goggles beyond simple consumer applications, and it soon vanished. 

This article in Wired on what it did, and where it ended up.  And how Google Lens is looking very similar.  We see, thus we can sense.  And can this sensing be readily passed on to link to data or knowledge bases?

How Google Goggles won, then Lost the Camera First Future.   By David Pierce in Wired.

 Google's first public foray into augmented reality began with an argument in a bar. It was 2008, and David Petrou, a longtime Google engineer, was sitting in a Brooklyn watering hole explaining to his friends how someday, you'd be able to do a search just by pointing your phone's camera at something. He likened it to pointing and asking, what's that? It would be faster and richer than typing, and could help you ask questions you'd never be able to put into words. Based on what he'd seen within Google, Petrou thought the tech could already work. His friends, of course, said he was crazy. They thought computer vision was science fiction.

Petrou left the bar early and angry, went home, and started coding. Despite having no background in computer vision, and a day job working on Google's Bigtable database system, Petrou taught himself Java so he could write an Android app and immersed himself in Google's latest work on computer vision. After a month of feverish hacking, Petrou had the very first prototype of what would soon become Google Goggles.  .... " 

Virtual VR-Like Makeover from Sephora

Was involved with tests of this concept a number of times, it seemed the idea thing for the smart home, cosmetics aisle.  Several makers had this available, but it seems not to have stuck.   Good video at the link,  This uses a more VR-like approach, which is nicely demonstrated in a Sephora store.

How does this look? Be your own virtual make-up artist  In the BBC.
French cosmetics chain Sephora has introduced technology that enables its customers to try on make-up virtually and test out different colours and shades before buying.

Its "virtual artist" tech is also available as a mobile app.
Like other retailers competing in a fast-moving digital landscape, the company is using online tools to engage customers in its physical stores. ...  "

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Wal-Mart Robotics and Labor

 Since Wal-Mart is the largest private employer this is of considerable interest.   How will this use of robotics ultimately influence retail and other industries? Volume of labor versus quality?    Ultimately labor is a big cost that is continually examined.   Digital Trends takes a look:

Walmart expands fleet of robots to new stores, but promises it won’t cut jobs  By Eric Brackett  in Digital Trends. 

Decades after they revolutionized the manufacturing industry, robots are now making their way to the service industry. PCMag has reported that Walmart is planning on using robots to automate certain mundane tasks.

The world’s largest retailer said it hopes to use automation to “handle tasks that are repeatable, predictable and manual, like scanning shelves for out-of-stock items, incorrect prices, and wrong or missing labels.” The robots have already been deployed in multiple stores in Arkansas, Pennsylvania, and California. Now, the company is preparing to expand the project to 50 additional stores.

The company says that this technology will free up the retailer’s employees to “focus on what they tell us are the most important and exciting parts of working at Walmart — serving customers and selling merchandise.”  .... " 

Understanding Customers with Machine Learning and Insight

Interesting piece in the HBR that combines human and AI methods.  Like the direction:

Understanding Customers by Blending Human Insight and Machine Learning   By Julie Wittes Schlack

How can companies use machine learning to efficiently understand the needs and wants of their customers, without sacrificing the insights that come from employees’ intuition and empathy?

My company is in the business of helping other firms create new products and services that will be both functionally useful and emotionally resonant with customers. As part of this work, we solicit materials online from a firm’s customers and potential customers. In a given year, we receive approximately 13 million unstructured text submissions and over 307,000 photos and videos from about 167,000 diverse contributors, all of whom are answering open-ended questions posed by us, as well as generating their own conversations on topics of their choosing. Our challenge: finding the unmet needs and often unarticulated longings in this wealth of content. To do this, we use a method of human-supervised machine learning that we think other companies could learn from. Here’s how it works.  .... " 

SAS Blog on the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things is happening now    By Randy Guard 

If you’ve been waiting for the buzz to settle around the Internet of Things before deciding how to invest in this new technology space, now’s the time to stop waiting. I’ve been working in the technology sector for a few decades, and the innovation and excitement I’m seeing around IoT is unlike anything else I’ve seen.

The nature of the market around IoT is in an exciting state of frenzy. There’s so much potential across so many industries – and so many players bringing truly innovative ideas to the market. And it was all on display at the recent IoT Solutions World Congress in Barcelona.

Randy Guard on stage at IoT World Congress

My presentation featured a discussion with Garret Fitzgerald of GE Transportation, who explained how his company is using the power of IoT analytics to completely reshape its business.
Attending the presentations and walking through the showcase floor (including the testbed displays), it’s clear that we’re not in a silly gadget phase of IoT anymore but well into a productive phase of practical ideas for commercial use. IoT use cases on display included:

- Predictive maintenance for connected elevators.
- Condition based monitoring for high value assets in the field, like locomotives, delivery trucks, and even the cargo/parcels being shipped.
- Hacker detection and prevention for digital substations.
- Early detection of crop-damaging weather events.
- Augmented reality for maintenance and service of sensitive assets.
- Smart city applications all around the world.  .... "

Simple Games and Learning

On the Google Blog.   I recall we had talked about this game as un-solvable, but we were not thinking like a twelve year old.

TensorFlow lends a hand to build a rock-paper-scissors machine     Kaz Sato

Developer Advocate, Google Cloud

Editor’s note: It’s hard to think of a more “analog” game than rock-paper-scissors. But this summer, one Googler decided to use TensorFlow, Google’s open source machine learning system, to build a machine that could play rock-paper-scissors. For more technical details and source code, see the original post on the Google Cloud Big Data and Machine Learning Blog.

This summer, my 12-year-old son and I were looking for a science project to do together. He’s interested in CS and has studied programming with Scratch, so we knew we wanted to do something involving coding. After exploring several ideas, we decided to build a rock-paper-scissors machine that detects a hand gesture, then selects the appropriate pose to respond: rock, paper, or scissors. ... " 

Whats Behind the AI Hype?

Podcast and text from Knowledge@wharton

What’s Behind the Hype About Artificial Intelligence?

Apoorv Saxena, lead product manager at Google and co-founder of the AI Frontiers conference that will be held in Santa Clara, Calif., from November 3-5, speaks with Knowledge@Wharton about why interest in artificial intelligence is growing, what is likely to happen in the near future and which challenges will take longer to overcome. [Knowledge@Wharton is a media partner for the conference.]

An edited transcript of the conversation follows.

Knowledge@Wharton: Interest in artificial intelligence has picked up dramatically in recent times. What is driving this hype? What are some of the biggest prevailing misconceptions about AI and how would you separate the hype from reality?

Apoorv Saxena: There are multiple factors driving strong interest in AI recently. First is significant gains in dealing with long-standing problems in AI. These are mostly problems of image and speech understanding. For example, now computers are able to transcribe human speech better than humans. Understanding speech has been worked on for almost 20 to 30 years, and only recently have we seen significant gains in that area. The same thing is true of image understanding, and also of specific parts of human language understanding such as translation. ...." 

Friday, October 27, 2017

Wal-Mart Testing Shelf Scanning Robots

 Now have seen several applications of store roving and shelf scanning robotics.   The need to get yet better data about the state of retail continues to expand.   Only way you can completely optimize your layout.  Make sure your  most profitable goods are  on shelf.  It will provide better data for more powerful analytics.   See my many posts on the concept.

Walmart is testing out shelf-scanning robots in 50 stores In  Fastcompany, via Engadget

Autonomous robots are taking over Walmart. Well, they are at least taking over more than a few locations. The behemoth retail chain is testing out shelf-scanning robots in more than 50 stores. The devices make sure items are in stock and priced correctly, according to Engadget.

This is all part of the company’s plan to innovate in the coming years. At our Fast Company Innovation Festival this week, Walmart e-commerce division CEO Marc Lore talked about the company’s forays into robotic technology. Beyond these shelf stockers, the company is also researching voice technology to make it easier for consumers to chat with a robot and purchase the things they need. “It will allow them to shop in a very conversational way with a robot … and that robot will know you as well as your mom or dad,” he said.  .... " 

And more with considerable discussion in Retailwire.  With Video.
And in Reuters.

AI and Quality of Life

Consumers believe Artificial Intelligence will enhance quality of life but simple use cases still required to build trust, finds Strategy Analytics

Hitachi Robotics

Another company to watch with robotics and analytics background.

Will Hitachi grow its ecosystem to include AI developer tools and robotics?

 By Mark Albertson  in SiliconAngle

Impressive customer testimonials and a strategy for big data management at the edge were a major part of the dialogue during the first day of PentahoWorld. But as executives from the newly created Hitachi Vantara business defined their vision of the computing future, there were still questions among analysts around how a few strategic gaps in the model might be closed.

“I want to see a stronger developer focus going forward. For them to really succeed, they’re going to need a solid strategy to migrate up their OpenStack to include a bit of TensorFlow or MXNet or some of the other deep learning toolkits that are becoming de facto standards with developers,” said James Kobielus (@jameskobielus, pictured, center), co-host of of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE’s mobile livestreaming studio.

Kobielus offered his thoughts during the PentahoWorld event in Orlando, Florida, along with co-hosts Rebecca Knight (@knightrm, pictured, right) and Dave Vellante (@dvellante, pictured, left). They discussed the potential to fill gaps through acquisitions, opportunities for Hitachi in robotics and customer use cases. (* Disclosure below.)

Hitachi Vantara includes the Pentaho data analytics business acquired in 2015. As Hitachi pursues its big data strategy, the company will undoubtedly look toward future acquisitions to complement its evolving model.    ... " 

Investing in Loyalty

Convincing the CFO to Invest in Loyalty
 by Len Llaguno

In my previous articles, we talked about the biggest struggles for loyalty finance professionals along with the challenges being faced by accountants when booking loyalty program liabilities.

Moving on, loyalty marketers also have a significant hurdle they must overcome – convincing the CFO to invest in loyalty. This article examines the progress that loyalty marketers wish to make as well as detailing the many struggles they encounter along the way. .... " 

Seeking Digital Identities

Who are we?   In Quartz:

".... Microsoft thinks blockchain tech could solve one of the internet’s toughest problems: digital identities

Elitzer isn’t alone in his thinking. His firm is part of a group, including Microsoft, Accenture, and several startups, that launched the Decentralized Identity Foundation at the Consensus blockchain tech conference in New York May 30, with the goal of developing a system to reliably identify things on the internet. They think they’ll succeed because they’ll use blockchain technology, that same system catching the imagination of banks, corporations, and libertarians.

Blockstack, one of the foundation’s startup members, has released a set of programming tools and a handful of pre-made apps that would create a decentralized internet. Greater decentralization of the internet would place more control in the hands of the user—or more specifically, the user’s devices, instead of relying on clouds operated by the likes of Google or Amazon. “Every character you type is literally going to Google,” says Muneeb Ali, Blockstack’s co-founder. “But your device is almost like a supercomputer. We just need to upgrade the internet infrastructure to be more user-friendly.” .... " 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Reviews.com Examines Roomba Vacuums

If you have read this blog for any time you know I am a long time follower of Smart Homes.  I also managed the technical aspects of Procter & Gamble's Home and Store innovation centers.    We looked at many home technology applications that could influence the business of Retail and CPG companies. In particular we looked at the earliest iRobot Roomba home robotics, to see how they would influence the future of home care.  See the Roomba or Smart Home Tags for more.

Have not followed new systems from Roomba for some time, but Kayla Allen of Reviews.com sent me a link to the reviews they have for the Roomba Vacuums.  See below for an abstract and link.  Great in dept coverage, discussion and images.   I did not know there were so many options.   Good update for me.  Will be following their reporting on home robotics from now on.

The Best Roomba Vacuums
The best of the best in robot vacuums
The 30-Second Review

The best Roomba can clean your floors without getting stuck on your furniture. We tested seven of iRobot's most promising models for cleaning power, navigation, and the ability to tackle common obstacles. In the end, we found that more money didn’t always buy better results.  .... " 

Update on Hololens

Micorosft's update on  AR work.  Always looking for practical business examples.   A bit thin on new applications covered.  Here covered:

Driving collaboration in car design
Ford design and engineering teams are able to iterate more quickly when they use HoloLens to visualize full-scale models in 3D. Processes that used to take weeks now take days, because they no longer need to physically build every prototype. ... 

Modernizing crime scene investigation
HoloLens enables police officers to capture evidence in real time with tuServ, Black Marble’s award-winning app for police operations. Gathering digital evidence decreases the risk of disturbing physical evidence. .... 

Bring life to Mixed Reality
Create holograms of people and performances for your mixed reality, virtual reality, and augmented reality experiences. Mixed Reality Capture Studios are now open San Francisco, Seattle, and London. ... "

Shoppers Allocating Research, Shopping Time

Good piece in Thinking with Google:   How do provide true assistance that is seen as value?  Good embedded statistics.

Holiday shoppers want more help in a hurry—here’s how to succeed this season  By Emily Eberhard 

   "  ... holidays seem to arrive sooner and sooner. Between jam-packed schedules and everyday distractions, busy shoppers want the perfect gift—right here, right now—and often find themselves crossing off items on their lists at crunch time. Couple that with the change in shopping habits and it’s easy to see why dusting off last year’s strategy won’t work.

With data showing that mobile-first consumers are more curious, more demanding, and more impatient than ever, marketers must be ready to capture their attention with the quick level of assistance they crave.

Consider this: 67% of smartphone users now agree that when conducting a search, they look for the most relevant information regardless of the company providing it.1 Their loyalty is shifting toward whoever can help them with the answer they need in that moment.

To respond to growing consumer expectations this shopping season, factor these three insights into your holiday strategy. .... " 

See also the broader article.

What is Watson and How is it Used Today

Have now been involved in a number of AI and expertise delivery projects over the years.   In recent years much of the conversation starts with Watson.   And solution methods I have worked with are have often started with Watson components.  So what is it, and how can it drive better decisions? 

In more recent years I have been using elements of Watson as one tool.  But what is that, and how can it be used?  How has it morphed since its initial development?   I like two non technical articles by William Vorhies at Data Science Central.  Not complete, and there is still confusion between making human decisions and just finding complex patterns.  But very useful.

First what is the historical Watson Question Answering Machine (QAM)?:


And Second, how are Watson and its components being used today?


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Amazon Key Starts to Deliver

Amazon starts to test another novel supply chain solution.  Easier than direct drone delivery?  Akin to some of the lock box solutions we tested.  But also radically different. The customer buys a $250 technology package that includes a door lock and a cloud camera.  A challenge to customer trust.

 The driver opens the door digitally,  entry and exit is recorded by the camera,  recipient is informed of delivery in real-time.  No additional cost to Prime members. 

Here a new kind of trust is tested between Amazon and customers.   The customer market for this is probably limited at first, but I think will grow.   More expert discussion below.  Will be following.

Amazon to begin making in-home deliveries in 37 cities
by George Anderson in RetailWire.

Amazon.com has announced the launch of Amazon Key, a new service that allows Prime members to have orders delivered inside their homes.

Amazon Key will initially be available in 37 cities starting on Nov. 8. The service will cover millions of products sold on Amazon and will not cost anything additional for Prime members. Amazon Key will work with all of the e-tailer’s free home delivery options — same-day, one-day, two-day and standard shipping. Once a customer has set up the service, they may select the in-home option while shopping. Amazon said it will handle the rest with “no passcodes, no fuss,” according to a company press release.

Amazon Key enables Prime members to monitor deliveries with real-time delivery notifications and gives them the ability to use video to see products being delivered live or later after the delivery is complete. .... " 

Blockchain Taking over the World

Good introductory piece arguing the universality of the approach, starting with Bitcoin.  In CACM.

Why Blockchain is Taking Over the World   By Logan Kugler 

You've probably heard of bitcoin, the digital currency making investors drool over triple-digit returns.

Since January 2017, the market for "cryptocurrencies," or cryptographically-secured currencies like bitcoin, has exploded, growing from around $18 billion at the beginning of this year to more than $170 billion in October 2017. This extreme expansion has some calling cryptocurrencies the next "tulip fever," referencing a speculative craze that swept 17th century Holland and is considered the first modern economic bubble. However, others believe cryptocurrencies are the greatest wealth-building opportunity in history.

The reality is a little more complex. There are more than 1,000 different cryptocurrencies, with bitcoin being just one (and the first). However, bitcoin is responsible for more than half of the entire cryptocurrency market capitalization. Other notable cryptos, such as Ethereum and Ripple, also have market caps in the tens of billions of dollars.

However, one commonality between many cryptos—and a major reason there's so much interest in the market—is that they are built on a technology called blockchain, which could revolutionize how the entire planet lives, works, and spends money..  ....  " 

Crowd Sourced Research

We did something related by giving knowledgeable people the ability to compete, in a gamelike way,  in finding solutions to a sub task.   It was often hard to define the sub task well enough.

A Stanford-Led Platform for Crowdsourced Research Gives Experience to Global Participants 
Stanford News
By Tom Abate; Glen Martin

Faculty at Stanford University, the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Cornell Tech spearheaded the Crowd Research Initiative to help students worldwide gain experience in crowdsourced research projects via a Web-based platform for conducting global-scale work. The initiative's goal is to give participants more ways to shape the subjects and directions of research, demonstrating the quality of their thinking and methods. Among student participants who have directly benefited is Chiraag Sumanth, who helped devise a game-like interface to make participation more entertaining. Experiments on the platform over the last two years yielded papers accepted via peer review at top-tier conferences in computer science. The experiments concentrated on human-computer interaction, data science, and computer vision, and resulted in many participants being admitted to top global institutions, while others received research experience that will enhance their careers. The initiative's early results will be presented this week at the ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (UIST 2017) in Quebec City, Canada ... " 

How Much Data do you Need for Deep Learning?

I have been often been involved with this question for many kinds of analytic methods.    100 data points is too few for something that's expected to precisely predictive, but how much is enough? The question itself is not precisely answerable.  Its always better to have more, especially if you expect some drift in the answer, or if you need to repeat testing frequently.   So get all you can.

Interesting,  that the full article does not back up the statement in the title below.  Deep learning does not always need 100K examples, we did well with much less.     It depends on the nature and use of the solution, the variability of the data.  The general scale statement of  about 10K and up is reasonable.

Google Brain chief: Deep learning takes at least 100,000 examples
By Blair Hanley Frank in Venturebeat via KDNuggets

While the current class of deep learning techniques is helping fuel the AI wave, one of the frequently cited drawbacks is that they require a lot of data to work. But how much is enough data?

“I would say pretty much any business that has tens or hundreds of thousands of customer interactions has enough scale to start thinking about using these sorts of things,” Jeff Dean, a senior fellow at Google, said in an onstage interview at the VB Summit in Berkeley, California. “If you only have 10 examples of something, it’s going to be hard to make deep learning work. If you have 100,000 things you care about, records or whatever, that’s the kind of scale where you should really start thinking about these kinds of techniques.”  .... '

Chronophobia: Fear of Future

Not sure I agree,  based on Pew,  people will say they dislike the future, yet they continually pay, as much as they are able, to participate in that future.   That will change if they are not part of the future.

Chronophobia: Fear of the Future   from Pew Internet

The Pew Internet report, Automation in Everyday Life, is more about fear of automation than enthusiasm for it

Reading the recently released Pew Internet report¹, Automation in Everyday Life, I came away with several specific observations, like the growing concerns about joblessness in an increasingly automated world.

Americans’ concerns about emerging automation technologies demonstrate a deepening fear of the future, or chronophobia.

But more than anything else the report highlights a growing appreciation of something more fundamental: Americans’ concerns about emerging automation technologies demonstrate a deepening fear of the future, or chronophobia. ... " 

Marketing and Augmented Reality

Good piece, examination of technology and statistics on the topic.

How Augmented Reality Will Enhance Marketing Campaigns    By Mark van Rijmenam In Linkedin

 Often, I write about emerging technologies such as big data, blockchain, IoT and AI. However, other technologies are also increasingly affecting organizations, one of them being Augmented Reality (AR). Thanks to technological advancements, Augmented reality is rapidly growing and is projected to drive billion-dollar annual revenues within the next decade. A Markets and Markets report estimates that AR will grow to be a $117.4 billion market by 2022. Moreover, A Citi GPS report projects AR's billion-dollar annual revenues will further increase to $692 billion by 2025. AR will be booming and offers great opportunities for organizations to expand and enhance marketing activities. Take a look at augmented reality's impact on marketing:

AR Marketing Will Change the Marketer's Role and Marketing

Augmented reality will have significant implications for marketers. To leverage AR's opportunities for marketing campaigns, it is key to understand AR's differences and similarities in comparison to other digital engagement platforms. AR is easy to adopt for many users because virtual aspects are superimposed over familiar environments. For instance, one study found that consumers enjoyed the playful experience of an AR mirror-app, compared to physical testers. The app helped them to virtually 'try on' eyeshadow and lipstick so they could easily visualize how it would look. This helped consumers decide whether or not to buy a product while offering a fun experience at the same time. ... " 

Baidu Does Many Accents: Deep Voice 3

Further developments in the many voices required to make global work.   Can we learn user experience requirements this way?

Baidu’s new system can learn to imitate every accent
One AI, 10,000 different characters   by Ben Popper

At the start of this year, Chinese search giant Baidu introduced a new system called DeepVoice. It uses deep learning, a popular artificial intelligence technique, to build a system that can convert text-to-speech. The first version was able to produce short sentences that, at least on a cursory listen, were nearly indistinguishable from a real person. That system could learn one voice at a time, and required hours of data to master each one.

DeepVoice 2, which debuted in May, could imitate a voice with just half an hour of data, and a single system could learn hundreds of different accents. Today, Baidu is introducing the third and final version of DeepVoice; the company says this version can learn 10,000 voices with just a half an hour of data each. Baidu says that “having a system that is able to effectively generate a wide variety of voices opens the door to many use cases that would otherwise not be feasible. For example, each character in an audio book or a video game would have his or her own unique voice for a more enhanced user experience.” .... ' 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Alexa Epicurious Cooking Skill

Am a avid cook and fan of the Epicurious (EPI) Conde Nast cooking sites.  They have asked me to test their Echo based skill.  Just started that.   Not encyclopedic, like Allrecipes, but a way to do a small set of recipes well.  They call the recipes  'timers', since they are based on cooking times, but have other aspects of the recipe as well.  Would like to see all the featured recipes in the Epicurious site translated into this form.  And the ability to add my own comments as well, even chat with others making the dish.   Also taking it beyond centric to cooking times, to ingredients, spices, ethnicity.   But keep it high quality and very easy to use.  Will continue to post on the examination here.

You invoke the skill by saying:   Alexa, Open Epicurious. 
Then you can say: Alexa how do I cook flank steak?

Here is the skill description:

With the Epicurious kitchen timer, you can ask how long it takes to cook a number of common ingredients, like vegetables, steak, chicken, pork, and fish. Give us a bit more information, like the weight or thickness of your steak, and we'll tell you the basic time and temperature to cook that item, plus preparation instructions and tips. We'll even give you advice on how to tell if it's done! Currently, we have timers for the following items: 

Chicken: chicken leg, chicken thigh, boneless chicken thigh, whole chicken
Pork: pork chops, pork loin, pork tenderloin
Steaks: flank steak, New York strip, porterhouse, ribeye and skirt steak
Seafood: cod, salmon filet, salmon steak, shrimp, swordfish, tilapia 
Vegetables: acorn squash, beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, butternut squash, carrots, cauliflower, eggplant, mushrooms, parsnips, potatoes, spaghetti squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini.

Have questions or comments? Contact us at rkt@advancemags.com.  .... 

Alexa Gadgets for Games

Intriguing, especially if game developers get involved.  Could the voice personalization be used to recognize players?  Different players in a household participate in a game?   Remote players.  Still not available but you can get on their list.  Could be a distinguishing skill type from competitors.    Connection to buttons, even touch on the Show, might provide novel interaction.  More detail at the link.

Alexa and Gadgets for Games 
We’re excited to introduce Alexa Gadgets, a new category of connected products and developer tools that enhance voice interactions with compatible Echo devices. Alexa Gadgets are powered by the new Alexa Gadgets SDK and Gadgets Skill API, which enable you to build products and experiences that turn a compatible Echo device into a hub for interactive play. You can sign up now to be notified when the development tools are made available.

To demonstrate how these new tools can be used to create playful experiences, we also introduced the first Alexa Gadgets product: Echo Buttons. Echo Buttons deliver a new way for customers to play games with friends and family. Each Echo Button illuminates and can be pressed to trigger a variety of multiplayer and interactive game experiences. The buttons connect to compatible Echo devices via Bluetooth, and will be available in the US, UK, and Germany in time for the holidays. .... " 

New Algorithm for Stream Data

Almost every business deals with streams of data.   Determining patterns in a stream is essential, one of recent clients makes most of their profit in it. here in Quanta Mag, some new methods for addressing the problem. Not technically deep, but takes some thought.   How do we test this today?

 Best-Ever Algorithm Found for Huge Streams of Data by Kevin Hartnett in Quanta Mag

To efficiently analyze a firehose of data, scientists first have to break big numbers into bits.

' .... “We developed a new algorithm that is simultaneously the best” on every performance dimension, said Jelani Nelson, a computer scientist at Harvard University and a co-author of the work with Kasper Green Larsen of Aarhus University in Denmark, Huy Nguyen of Northeastern University and Mikkel Thorup of the University of Copenhagen.

This best-in-class streaming algorithm works by remembering just enough of what it’s seen to tell you what it’s seen most frequently. It suggests that compromises that seemed intrinsic to the analysis of streaming data are not actually necessary. It also points the way forward to a new era of strategic forgetting.  .... ' 

" ... Trend Spotting  ... Streaming algorithms are helpful in any situation where you’re monitoring a database that’s being updated continuously. This could be AT&T keeping tabs on data packets or Google charting the never-ending flow of search queries. In these situations it’s useful, even necessary, to have a method for answering real-time questions about the data without re-examining or even remembering every piece of data you’ve ever seen. ... " 

PRI Journal of Retail Analytics 3Q 2017

Find this publication by PRI very interesting and worth following.  What, nothing is being called AI here?

The most recent edition of the Journal of Retail Analytics is available for free download below. Articles in the 3Q 2017 issue include:

Consumers are the Real ‘Things’ in the Internet of Things by Stuart Armstrong, Group President, ComQi; Sean Anderson, Director of Interactivity, Six Flags Entertainment; Max Stevens-Guille, CTO, ComQi; Luke Wilwerding, Director of Retail Solutions, ELO Touch Solutions; Aaron Kleinhandler, CEO, Spectrio, LLC; and Michael Rocha, Director of Creative Solutions, Panasonic.

Digital Experience is the On-Location Element of Customer Experience by Garry Wicka, Head of Marketing, LG Electronics.

Evidence of the Value of Consumer Engagement Via Branded Apps from Spiegel Research Center, Northwestern University.

Insights into Deploying RFID Systems in Retail – A conversation with Karl Bracken, Senior Vice President, Supply Chain Transformation, Target; Marshall Kay, Partner, RFID Sherpas; Rene Saroukhanoff, Senior Director, Global Merchandise Planning, Reporting & Analytics, Levi Strauss; and Allan Smith, Former Senior Vice President & CIO, Lululemon Athletica.

The Apple Store Versus the Microsoft Store: Using Retail Analytics to Measure Customer Behavior Case Study (Part 2)  by Josh Garcia, Palo Alto College; Wanda Goodnough, University of the Rockies; Charelle Lans, Mars Petcare U.S.; D. Anthony Miles, Miles Development Industries Corporation; Pantea Shakibkhoo, Supersonic Inc.; Aimy Steele, University of North Carolina at Charlotte; and Edward Wiggins, Orbis Novitas Solutions, LLC.

Why Effective Content on Digital Signage Drives Sales at Retail by Philip M. Cohen, CEO, Cannabis Medical Network Holdings.  ....  "  

Wal-Mart Pushes Virtual Reality

When we started our own innovation spaces we also aimed to engage startups like Wal-Mart's Store No. 8 is doing.   The emphasis on VR is interesting.   While it is intriguing to many people, it is still not in use by the typical Wal-Mart customer for interacting with their purchase decisions.   How soon can we expect this?  Will require considerable training and incentive.

Discount giant’s innovation gala presented a glimpse into the future of retail     By Deena M. Amato-McCoy in Chainstore Age

Virtual reality (VR) was the star of Walmart’s Store No. 8 inaugural innovation gala — an event that exhibited how the technology will shape retail shopping.

Store No. 8, Walmart’s technology incubator focused on ideas that will transform the future of commerce, held its first innovation gala on Wednesday. Store No. 8 works with startups that specialize in areas that include robotics, virtual and augmented reality, machine learning and artificial intelligence. This event however, gave put the spotlight on the value of VR.

The gala, which took place at a private residence in Hollywood Hills, California, invited top brands, technology companies and venture capitalists to see how VR will impact how customers shop in the future. Each exhibit encompassed Store No 8, Thrive Global and Accenture’s vision for the future of VR.  ... " 

Dash Cams and Autonomous Driving

Had thought before there is some connection between autonomous driving and cameras understanding the context.   Gathering data for autonomous operations.  Here is a development move in that direction.  Also a step towards another kind of attentive interaction, similar to work being done with assistant technologies.    The first step is to precisely sense the relevant context.

Comma AI’s dash cams are a stepping stone to autonomous driving
It’s dash cams for now, with an eye on autonomous driving.
 By Roberto Baldwin, @strngwys  in Engadget

"... Comma AI's latest piece of hardware is the EON dash cam developer kit. The $700 piece of hardware is a camera that also runs apps you'd use while driving, like Spotify and Waze. In fact, it's actually just an Android phone (a OnePlus 3 to be exact) with a custom case and software that taps into the smartphone's camera, gyroscope, GPS and accelerometer. That hardware, coupled with the new Chffrplus app (which is only available on the EON) allows Hotz and crew to distribute consumer hardware that also tracks your driving so it can train its self-driving AI system. .... " 

The Robotics Startup

This Robotics Startup Wants to Be the Boston Dynamics of China    By Erico Guizzo in Spectrum IEEE

Of all the legged robots built in labs all over the world, few inspire more awe and reverence than Boston Dynamics’ quadrupeds.

Chinese roboticist Xing Wang has long been a fan of BigDog, AlphaDog, Spot, SpotMini, and other robots that Boston Dynamics has famously introduced over the years. “Marc Raibert … is my idol,” Wang once told us about the founder and president of Boston Dynamics.

Now Wang, with funding from a Chinese angel investor, has founded his own robotics company, called Unitree Robotics and based in Hangzhou, outside Shanghai. Wang says his plan is making legged robots as popular and affordable as smartphones and drones.

Unitree’s first robot is a four-legged robodog called Laikago, which the company is announcing this week. (The name comes from Laika, the Soviet space dog, which Wang admires as a symbol of “human exploration of the unknown.”)  ... " 

Monday, October 23, 2017

Looking Back at Second Life

Yes, it still exists, and has roughly the same number of users.   Surprised me.   This all came out a decade ago.  We did quite a bit of experimentation with it.  Worked with several large IT  groups looking at ways to make it useful.  Even a way to do research in that other world that might mirror our real world.    At the end of the day it was not very useful for us.  Does it still merit examination as an environment for marketing experiments,  or a retail architecture?  Experimented with using worlds to interact with the abstractness of data.  Virtualitics is doing that today.  Good piece that shows what Second Life is today. 

Returning to Second Life
Long after its grandest ambitions have faded, the platform still boasts people and profit.   By Samuel Axon in ArsTechnica .... " 

Spotting a Machine Learning Opportunity

 Good thoughts, though not quite enough cautions on the implementation.  It contains risk as well as payout.   Also very much like the immediate inclusion of business subject matter experts.  To best measure potential value and understand risk.   Also make clear the need for the right data.  This approach is very much the same in any kind of analytical method. 

How to Spot a Machine Learning Opportunity, Even If You Aren’t a Data Scientist   By Kathryn Hume in HBR

Artificial intelligence is no longer just a niche subfield of computer science. Tech giants have been using AI for years: Machine learning algorithms power Amazon product recommendations, Google Maps, and the content that Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter display in social media feeds. But William Gibson’s adage applies well to AI adoption: The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed.

The average company faces many challenges in getting started with machine learning, including a shortage of data scientists. But just as important is a shortage of executives and nontechnical employees able to spot AI opportunities. And spotting those opportunities doesn’t require a PhD in statistics or even the ability to write code. (It will, spoiler alert, require a brief trip back to high school algebra.)

Having an intuition for how machine learning algorithms work – even in the most general sense – is becoming an important business skill. Machine learning scientists can’t work in a vacuum; business stakeholders should help them identify problems worth solving and allocate subject matter experts to distill their knowledge into labels for data sets, provide feedback on output, and set the objectives for algorithmic success .... " 

FBI Fails at Device Decryption

As the article suggests, one more example of another blind spot in accessing data.   And no indications that the big IT and Communications companies are helping.  FBI Tried and Failed To Access 7,000 Devices Because of Encryption.  In CIO Mag.

IBM Process Modeling and Automation Anywhere

Attended the first webinar given about the partnership of Automation Anywhere and IBM notably about the integration of RPA (Robotic Process Automation) with other business processes.  A very good high level view.    There are essentially three parts to be considered:

  Business Process Modeling (BPM)  (IBM has this capability)
  Robotic Process Automation (RPA)   IBM does not do this, AA does, but IBM has a rules engine JRules that could be further applied to RPA,
  Operations Decision Management (ODM)  Being integrated with the other parts by IBM.

And IBM has Watson, which could tie together with the other parts, especially at a lower level to provide supporting solutions to humans or systems.  Watson was not brought up by IBM,  nor was the term AI used,  but participants brought up its integration. IBM seemed to indicate it could be applied as needed.

The participants also asked if this could be integrated with ERP systems.  The answer was yes.  No specific ERP was mentioned.  Are the ERP systems planning anything like this?

We saw these needs starting in the expert systems era,  but the integration of the different kinds of needs were forced with rule based systems.  An approach that ultimately failed.   The systems then and those now will also need close maintenance.

See the tag RPA below for more.

Can we Teach Robots Ethics?

Non technical look at the problem.   Or can we teach robots our ethics?  In the BBC:

Can we teach robots ethics?
We are not used to the idea of machines making ethical decisions, but the day when they will routinely do this - by themselves - is fast approaching. So how, asks the BBC's David Edmonds, will we teach them to do the right thing?

Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics

Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics

Head of the Institute: Prof. Dr. Alin Albu-Schäffer

The Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics develops a wide array of robots to enable humans to interact more safely and efficiently with their surrounding environments. The robots are designed to act in surroundings inaccessible or dangerous to humans as well as to support humans in everyday life and work.

Our robots mimic and extend upon the manipulation and locomotion capabilities of humans on a functional level. In a more general sense, they perform any tasks of locomotion and interaction with the environment with a wide range of autonomy to suit different tasks. As a key aspect for the usability of robots, we address the interfaces to humans through multimodal human-robot interaction. ... "

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Metaphors and Algorithms as Sources of Knowledge

" ...  Cognitive Systems Institute Group Speaker Series on Thursday Oct 26, 2016 at 10:30 am ET US (7:30 am PT US and 4:30 pm in Spain).  Our presenter this week is Xavier Busquets Carretero, ESADE, Ramon Llull University in Spain, who will present “Metaphors and Algorithms as Sources of Knowledge.”

Please point your web browser to https://apps.na.collabserv.com/meetings/join?id=2894-8491password=cognitive.   Use audio on computer or 855-233-7153 in the US  ...  PIN Code: 43179788    Non-IBMers, please use the "guest" option instead of entering your email

A link to slides and a recording of each call should be available on the CSIG website (http://cognitive-science.info/community/weekly-update/). 

We encourage those who join the calls to add questions and comments to the https://www.linkedin.com/groups/Cognitive-Systems-Institute-6729452 on LinkedIn and please ask questions at the end of the call.

Thank you.
Dianne Fodell

IBM Global University Programs

Amazon Rekognition

Impressive tutorial embedded here and information about available face and image recognition services.   This is a place to understand a major piece of where AI has been moving.   And now its all available as a service.  Show this to your computer oriented kids or colleagues.   APIs can leverage you to valuable capabilities.

Amazon Rekognition
Deep learning-based image recognition
Search, verify, and organize millions of images

Amazon Rekognition is a service that makes it easy to add image analysis to your applications. With Rekognition, you can detect objects, scenes, faces; recognize celebrities; and identify inappropriate content in images. You can also search and compare faces. Rekognition’s API enables you to quickly add sophisticated deep learning-based visual search and image classification to your applications.

Amazon Rekognition is based on the same proven, highly scalable, deep learning technology developed by Amazon’s computer vision scientists to analyze billions of images daily for Prime Photos. Amazon Rekognition uses deep neural network models to detect and label thousands of objects and scenes in your images, and we are continually adding new labels and facial recognition features to the service.

Rekognition’s API lets you easily build powerful visual search and discovery into your applications. With Amazon Rekognition, you only pay for the images you analyze and the face metadata you store. There are no minimum fees and there are no upfront commitments. ....   "  

About AI: Build a Face Recognizing Doorbell

I was reminded of how good the O'Reilly sites on AI were by my last post.    Especially about AI and advanced tech topics.      I had somehow missed the piece below, which is a good DIY piece for IOT, AI, voice interfaces and the smart home.   If you build this, you will have a good idea of the challenges involved.   In particular about how you can integrate multiple capabilities and services that are available.  Also a great instructional family project.   Will take a closer look.  Let me know your experiences.

Build a talking, face-recognizing doorbell for about $100  By Lukas Biewald .... 

DIY with Amazon Echo and Raspberry PI: Recognize thousands of people at your door every month, for pennies. .... " 

(Update)  And similarly using Tensorflow   --------------- 

How to build a robot that “sees” with $100 and TensorFlow
Adventures in deep learning, cheap hardware, and object recognition.

By Lukas Biewald September 21, 2016

Gain an intuitive understanding of the concepts and tools for building intelligent systems with "Hands-On Machine Learning with Scikit-Learn and TensorFlow," by Aurélien Géron. ....  

Evolution of Chaos

Excellent piece.   Have only rarely see this concept used in the enterprise, deserves more examination.    Here with an intro and then pointers to more.  My tag points to more resources I have gathered, including a free pdf book ....

The evolution of chaos
Kolton Andrus explores the evolution of chaos engineering and explains why it’s becoming the go-to approach for building resilient systems. 

This is a keynote highlight from the O'Reilly Velocity Conference in London 2017. Watch the full version of this keynote on Safari.

You can also see other highlights from the event. ..... " 

Security Eyeball Home Hub

Security solutions seem to be in vogue, added to the architecture of the smart home.  Naturally an extention to home control hubs.   Here something unique:

The Moon is a floating eyeball that can control and monitor your house
By Mark Austin  in DigitalTrends   .... "

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Top 10 Machine Learning Algorithms for Beginners

Nicely done intro from KDNuggets:  I have followed KDNuggets long before Machine learning and AI got sexy again, well worth a follow.

I. Introduction

The study of ML algorithms has gained immense traction post the Harvard Business Review article terming a ‘Data Scientist’ as the ‘Sexiest job of the 21st century’. So, for those starting out in the field of ML, we decided to do a reboot of our immensely popular Gold blog The 10 Algorithms Machine Learning Engineers need to know - albeit this post is targetted towards beginners.

ML algorithms are those that can learn from data and improve from experience, without human intervention. Learning tasks may include learning the function that maps the input to the output, learning the hidden structure in unlabeled data; or ‘instance-based learning’, where a class label is produced for a new instance by comparing the new instance (row) to instances from the training data, which were stored in memory. ‘Instance-based learning’ does not create an abstraction from specific instances.  ...  " 

Danger of a Botnet of Things

Well known security expert suggests that the net is in danger.

Botnets of Things
The relentless push to add connectivity to home gadgets is creating dangerous side effects that figure to get even worse.

by Bruce Schneier  in Technology Review

Global Payment Systems

How can you help your local online business go global?
By Caroline Bullock
Technology of Business reporter

But then he came across a Dutch payment company, Adyen, whose payment processing platform harnesses machine learning to customise the payment method depending on which country the buyer is in.

Adyen's clients include heavyweights such as Netflix, Uber and Spotify, so Mr Whiteoak was surprised to find out how affordable its service was, with a minimum monthly invoice of $100 (£75) and transparent per-transaction processing and commission charges.

"Before we started selling outside of the UK we had a turnover of around £6.5m," he says. "Last year we posted 10.9 million, and with the bulk of our sales coming from overseas, this growth is directly linked to our ability to offer local payment methods."

Sales have grown 125% over the last three years, he says, proving that knitting and crochet is big business. .... "

Drones and Event Cameras

Drone With Event Camera Takes First Autonomous Flight     By Evan Ackerman

Inspired by insect eyes, an event-based camera tracks changes rather than recording images to help drones move fast and reliably.

A few years ago, Davide Scaramuzza’s lab at the University of Zurich introduced us to the usefulness of a kind of dynamic vision sensor called an event camera. Event cameras are almost entirely unlike a normal sort of camera, but they’re ideal for small and fast moving robots when you care more about not running into things than you do about knowing exactly what those things are.

In a paper submitted to Robotics and Automation Letters, Antoni Rosinol Vidal, Henri Rebecq, Timo Horstschaefer, and Professor Scaramuzza present the very first time an event camera has been used to autonomously pilot a drone, and it promises to enable things that drones have never been able to do before.  .... " 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Wal-Mart on Voice Technology and AI

Wal-Mart commenting on voice tech an their work with Google on voice ordering.  Also notice the direct mention of AI as changing environment in the near future.  Appears Wal-Mart is involved here.   See also the expert comments in this piece. 

E-commerce chief expects Walmart to ‘crush it’ over next two years   by George Anderson in Retailwire

Bigger is better when it comes to online sales and operations. That was one of the messages delivered by Marc Lore, chief of Walmart’s e-commerce business in the U.S., at The Wall Street Journal’s D.Live technology conference earlier this week.

Mr. Lore said Walmart is reimagining what retail and e-commerce will look like in the years ahead and making investments on a wide scale to own that future.

“E-commerce is a scale game,” Mr. Lore told the Journal. “We’re looking at a lot of different things right now, everything, in every sector.” ....

The retailer has also engaged with Google to enable customers to order products by speaking to their Google Home device or a mobile phone that uses Google Assistant. Walmart’s customers will need to link their accounts with the retailer to Google Express to take advantage of voice ordering.

“People use it [voice activated tech] for weather, use it for transportation, a little bit of shopping,” Mr. Lore told CNET. “And I think many people are writing it off, saying it’s kind of clunky [or] I don’t think I’m going to shop that way.”

Mr. Lore does, however, see advancements in artificial intelligence over the next five to 10 years dramatically changing people’s attitudes about voice tech.  .... " 

Wal-Mart Thinks the Future of Retail in VR

In our own experiments in virtual spaces, retail can work there, but only in contexts where you need to understand and manage space or appearance.    If your product does not deal with space, an assistant based retail interaction makes more sense.

Walmart's Store No. 8 showcases the future of VR

The event, a first of its kind for Walmart, drew an exclusive group of high-tech brands, technologists and venture capitalists to debut the latest in VR. .... "   

Corinne Ruff    @corinnesusan  in RetailDive

Another Invoke Review

Microsoft Expert looks at the Microsoft Cortana Invoke:

My week with Harman Kardon's Cortana-powered Invoke speaker
My "non-reviewer's review" of the Haman Kardon Invoke speaker that works with Cortana: A solid device, but still not something I want or need. .... "     By Mary Jo Foley

Big Tech Controlling our Minds

Podcast of interest.

A ‘World Without Mind’: Big Tech’s Dangerous Influence

Author Franklin Foer reflects on the dangers of losing ourselves in a society dependent on a handful of tech firms.

  French philosopher Rene Descartes famously said “I think, therefore I am.” But in the digital age, what we think and how we live are being influenced in a big way by just a handful of tech firms: We are informed by Google and entertained by Apple; we socialize on Facebook and shop on Amazon.

It’s time to reclaim our identities and reassert our intellectual independence, according to Franklin Foer, a national correspondent for The Atlantic and former editor of The New Republic, in his book, World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech. He recently joined the Knowledge@Wharton show, which airs on SiriusXM channel 111, to explain why these firms’ hold on society is a cautionary tale for the future.  .... "

An edited transcript of the conversation follows. ....  "

Kroger Invests in New Tech

Followed Kroger for year, always had an impressive depth of tech use,  not as much breadth.  This and other efforts many be an example of new take.

Kroger unveils plan to invest in technology, store resets
“Restock” initiative includes private brand growth, digital shopping, meal solutions  Mark Hamstra  in Supermarket News
Kroger on Wednesday unveiled a series of strategic moves that include reducing its investments in new stores and leveraging technology to accelerate changes in assortments and improve customer service at existing locations.

As previously reported, the company also is considering the potential sale of its convenience-store division, a $4 billion business operating 784 locations in 18 states.

The “Restock Kroger” initiative will involve an accelerated and more data-driven effort around pricing, personalized communications with customers and a massive revamp of product assortments, executives form the Cincinnati-based company explained in Kroger’s annual Analyst Day. Kroger is the largest collector of food purchase data in the U.S., the company said, and it intends to use that data as a competitive advantage as it expands its efforts to provide meal- and food-shopping solutions. .... " 

First Review of MS Invoke Assistant

Well hardly a full service Butler, but we know that they mean.  Play music, order things and turn on the lights with your voice.  Breaking the existing infrastructures will tough without a real killer functionality, and I don't see mixing drinks emerging.   Smoother voice intelligence would be good.  Cost less than I was expecting, and I was already expecting better audio quality.    Have used Cortana from time to time under Windows,  and was never very impressed, but lets see what she does as part of a smart home.   Again I note that Harman-Kardon is part of Samsung, so lets see that than may imply longer term.

Review: What It's Like to Have Microsoft's Virtual Butler in Your Living Room  By Lisa Eadicicco in Time

Microsoft is out to prove that Amazon's Alexa and the Google Assistant aren't the only virtual concierges worth inviting into your home. After first teasing its Cortana-powered speaker last December, Harman Kardon's Invoke will finally launch on October 22 for $199. With Microsoft's Cortana butler built-in, the Invoke can recite the weather, control smart home devices and more, just like its Amazon and Google rivals.

Invoke's arrival along with similar high-end devices also marks a turning point for intelligent speakers. Potential buyers no longer need choose between high quality audio and having a smart assistant they can summon by voice. Early Internet-connected speakers, such as the first generation Echo and Google Home, provided good enough sound for casual listening. But audiophiles still turned to premium dedicated speakers to get superior sound. .... " 

Facebook Scours Posts and Comments

Facebook Tests Letting Marketers Scour Posts and Comments   in Adage.

By Garett Sloane. 

Facebook is experimenting with letting brands study people's posts and comments on the network in an effort to better inform their marketing.

The beta test, an extension of Facebook's Audience Insights API marketing tech platform, isn't expected to be widely available until next year, according to people familiar with the offering who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss something Facebook hasn't announced yet. Early ad partners, which include top agencies and media companies, are searching Facebook's vast history of public posts to see what topics, themes, brands and products are being discussed. Users' identities are withheld.  ....  "  

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Cortana Virtual Machine for Batch Machine Learning

This is not an open solution as I see it.

Cortana Intelligence and Machine Learning Blog
Announcing the Data Science Virtual Machine in Batch AI Service

Cortana Intelligence and ML Blog Team 
by Paul Shealy, Senior Software Engineer at Microsoft.

We are pleased to announce the integration of the Microsoft Data Science Virtual Machine (DSVM) with the Batch AI service in Azure.

DSVM is a family of popular VM images published on Azure with a broad choice of machine learning, AI and data science tools. All tools are pre-configured giving you a ready-to-use, on-demand, elastic environment in the cloud to help you perform data analytics and AI development productively. You focus less on IT administrative tasks and more on your data science with the DSVM.   .... Read more at Batch AI Overview and see their recipes for examples with TensorFlow, Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit, Keras, Chainer, and others.  ... " 

Intel and Amazon Partner on Voice Tech

Intel and Amazon partner on voice recognition tech
The Intel Speech Enabling Developer Kit is now up for pre-order.
 By Timothy J. Seppala, @timseppala

Intel and Amazon are partnering to combine the former's silicon and smarts with the latter's Alexa voice platform. The chipmaker has introduced the Intel Speech Enabling Developer Kit to provide a "complete audio front-end solution for far-field voice control," according to a press release. The idea is that Intel has done the hard work of designing the mic arrays and voice systems and that all developers will need to do is write applications for them. It offers algorithms for echo cancellation and beam forming, wake words, an 8-mic array and the company's dual digital signal processor. ... " 

Intel Delivers Neural Network Chips

Intel delivers Nervana Neural Network Processor chips for AI workloads  By Mike Wheatley

After pushing the concept of using Field Programmable Gate Arrays as accelerators for artificial intelligence and deep learning neural networks, Intel Corp. is taking the next step with the launch of its first batch of dedicated AI chips.

The chip giant today announced it will soon ship what it says are the first processors built specifically for AI workloads. Intel said its new Nervana Neural Network ... "