I-VIE the Watson Assistant from IBM

The war of the digital assistants just got a new entrant. IBM has recently revealed the Watson Assistant, that is designed for enterprises to use with their customer-facing applications. The video below shows some of the use cases that make the Watson Assistant I-VIE seem like an enhanced version of Alexa and Google Assistant put together, that eventually hopes to be more like J.A.R.V.I.S. from Iron Man.

What this reinforces is that while Alexa and Google Assistant have momentum with consumer use cases, enterprises have strong interest in having more control over the customer experience and data. So it comes as no surprise that Amazon introduced Alexa for Business in December 2017 and set its sights beyond the kitchens and bedrooms.

The battle for enterprise assistant market share is shaping up to be every bit as competitive as the current war for consumer voice assistant users.

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The Moby Mart

The Moby Mart is set to turn every parking space in the world into a new 24-hour store. About the size of a small bus, the store carries a selection of everyday products like snacks, meals, basic groceries, and even shoes. To use the store, you have to download an app, register as a customer and use your smartphone to unlock the doors.

The store is currently undergoing trials in Shanghai, thanks to a collaborative effort between Swedish startup named Wheelys Inc and China’s Hefei University. For now, the trial prototype is stationery i.e. based permanently in a carpark. But the company says that it is currently working with tech companies to develop its self-driving technology as seen in the below video.

For more information visit www.themobymart.com.

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Microsoft HoloLens redefines elevator maintenance

The future of elevator maintenance is here. ThyssenKrupp recently announced the implementation of Microsoft’s Hololens out in the field where its technicians and engineers will benefit from minimized delays and matchless workflow. Fusing cloud computing and digital IoT solutions with an augmented reality interface, ThyssenKrupp will facilitate real-time prediction of repairs and component replacements while priming their experts on potential issues before they arise.

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Volvo Keyless Cars

For decades, drivers have been accustomed to accessing and driving cars with physical keys. But no longer. In a ground-breaking move for the automotive industry, Volvo Cars plans to become the world’s first car manufacturer to offer cars without keys from 2017.

Volvo customers will be offered an application for their mobile phones to replace the physical key with a digital key. The innovative Bluetooth-enabled digital key technology, will offer Volvo customers far more flexibility, enabling them to benefit from entirely new ways to use and share cars.

The new Volvo app would enable the digital key on the customer’s mobile phone to do everything a physical key currently does, such as locking or unlocking the doors or the trunk and allowing the engine to be started.

Volvo plans to roll out the technology to a “limited” number of commercially available cars in 2017 and will test it in the real world from spring 2016 via its car sharing firm Sunfleet, stationed at Gothenburg airport, Sweden. Physical keys will continue to be offered for people who want them.

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Hyundai Virtual Guide

To make life easier for car owners, Hyundai has built an augmented reality app called the Virtual Guide. It allows Hyundai owners to use their smart phones to get more familiar with their car and learn how to perform basic maintenance without delving into a hundred page owner’s manual.

Here is a short demo video of the app from The Verge at CES 2016…

The Virtual Guide app will be available in the next month or two for the 2015 and the 2016 Hyundai Sonata and will come to the rest of the Hyundai range later on this year.

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360 Videos on Facebook

In September, Facebook launched 360-degree video support. Disney was one of the first companies to use it to announce the new Star Wars film: The Force Awakens…


(Note: View the video directly on Facebook by clicking on the above image.)

Now GoPro has announced its newest 360-degree video: surfing in virtual reality with Anthony Walsh and Matahi Drollet…

gopro
(Note: View the video directly on Facebook by clicking on the above image.)

The GoPro video release has also coincided with Facebook’s announcement that 360 video support is now rolling out to mobile devices (meaning it will no longer be limited to the desktop).

With more than 8 billion video views from 500 million users on a daily basis (announced during the Q3 2015 earnings call). Brands will clearly want to pour in time, money, and other resources to exploit this new marketing opportunity.

To support the growing ecosystem of 360 video creators, Facebook has also launched a new 360 video Microsite. This site is dedicated to providing relevant resources and information like upload guidelines, common questions, and best practices.

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Project Soli

Google ATAP is tasked with creating cool new things that we’ll all actually use. And so at the recently concluded Google I/O event they showcased “Project Soli”, a new kind of wearable tech that actually wants to make your hands and fingers the only user interface you’ll ever need.

To make that happen, Project Soli uses a radar that is small enough to fit into a wearable like a smartwatch. The small radar then picks up on your movements in real-time, and uses movements you make to alter its signal.

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Big Data to predict traffic jams

Big Data is increasingly being used to find solutions to problems around the world. In this latest example, Microsoft has partnered with the Federal University of Minas Gerais, one of Brazil’s largest universities, to undertake research that helps predict traffic jams up to an hour in advance.

With access to traffic data (including historical numbers where available), road cameras, Bing traffic maps, and drivers’ social networks, Microsoft and team are set to establish patterns that help foresee traffic jams 15 to 60 minutes before they happen.

Microsoft has tested this model in London, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York, and claims to have achieved a prediction accuracy of 80 percent.

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Microsoft HoloLens

Last week at Microsoft’s Windows 10 event, the company unveiled a new augmented reality experience for the platform, called HoloLens. Using a special holographic headseat, Windows 10 users will now be able to make holograms appear in real life. 😎

The device is said to use see-through lenses, spatial sound, advanced sensors and a holographic processing unit to provide a state of the art untethered augmented reality experience.

Here is a short demo video of the next step of computing…

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iHome

With HomeKit on iOS 8, Apple has made its move into the smart home space. But as we still wait for them to announce HomeKit accessories of their own, others at the ongoing CES 2015 consumer electronics and consumer technology tradeshow are already ready to demo such products.

Switch from iDevices, is the world’s first HomeKit enabled connected plug that allows any electronic device to be plugged into it and then be controlled from a custom app or Siri while being at home or away.

To be the first to buy Switch, visit www.idevicesinc.com/switch.

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