Tags Posts tagged with "Tech Sector"

Tech Sector

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Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence Goes Corporate

Artificial Intelligence / A Cambridge, Massachusetts startup, Talla, wants to help companies to ease into artificial intelligence, and they have come up with a new service assistant bot that gives companies whatever degree of intelligence-fueled power they are looking for. The tool, called ServiceAssistant, works as an IT or HR help desk inside of Slack or Microsoft Teams and gives customers a few options on how to use it. First of all, you can run it like a conventional service desk. The user sends requests through ServiceAssistant where it gets processed and answered by a human.

Artificial Intelligence

In the second scenario, the customer eases into automation where the ServiceAssistant provides an automated answer, which gets checked by a human before being sent through to the questioner, or at the highest level of automation the system simply sends an answer when the confidence threshold is above a certain level set by the customer. Rob May, CEO and co-founder, says the company deliberately used an in-house service model instead of live customers because after reviewing the technology, he felt that the current Natural Language Processing technology was better suited to this approach.

The Talla ServiceAssistant looks like any user on Slack or Microsoft Teams. As with any Slack or Teams bot, employees can interact with it by asking questions. If it’s tuned to be an HR assistant, for example, an employee might ask, “Do we have Labor Day off?” If the system has been configured to answer automatically, it’s the kind of question that it can answer with a high degree of certainty and can simply tell the employee yes or no. In an IT Help Desk approach, the questions could get trickier such as, “How I get access to QuickBooks?” In this case, the system might find multiple matches, and if it were set for automated responses, it could ask the questioner to choose the most relevant one, or it could ask if they want to open a help desk ticket to move to the question to a human for processing.

The system is tuned to ask questions when it doesn’t understand and to learn from the responses. Since people ask questions in non-standard ways, the system can also learn that “Are we open Labor Day?” is the same as “Do we have Labor Day off?” or “Is the office closed on Labor Day?” May says even in companies where there are high usage rates for Slack or Teams, there could be as many as 20% of employees not using that tool, so they’ve also built a Web App and allow email, but the ultimate goal is to get people into the conversational tools to ask the questions; and do it in an automated way as possible.

The company wants to be more than a conversational bot, however. It wants to be a central place for processing IT and HR requests. That means having a ticket system, a knowledge base, and the ability to broadcast to employees, for example, when the system is going down for maintenance or the office is closed for a holiday. May says among his customers Slack is definitely the more popular of the two offerings today, but he believes it’s important to look at the different conversational tools and continually assess where that market is going as it’s still being established.

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technology SkyX Ltd

Technology Breakthrough with SkyOne Drone

SkyX Ltd. recently arrived to share details about its unique industrial drone technology designs. The company’s SkyOne drones take off and land like a helicopter, but fly more like an airplane, with a range of up to 65 miles per charge. For drone industry nerds, this means they have both VTOL and fixed-wing elements.

Cameras and sensors on board enable SkyOne drones to gather data about infrastructure below and send it back to cloud-based applications for analysis. The drones also launch from and land on proprietary charging stations, called xStations, which close a kind of shell over the UAVs when they are not moving, protecting them from theft. The charging stations do not remove and replace the batteries within the drones, but charge them directly, then send the drones on their way.

technology SkyX Ltd

Other companies land their unmanned aerial vehicles on charging stations where their batteries are swapped out for fresh ones. Positioning charging stations along a route can give drones a virtually unlimited range. It’s a design idea we should expect to see until battery tech and other power systems advance significantly.

SkyX founder and CEO Didi Horn spent his earlier career flying for the Israel Air Force. Horn stated, “I always knew I wanted to develop something around drones and aviation for commercial use when I got out. But in consumer there were already great products. There was nothing great for long-range, but that’s where I knew there would be demand. There are millions of kilometers of oil and gas pipelines already built in the world today and they are all at risk of leaks, or terror attacks, you name it.”

The technology company is first focusing on the energy industry, as its drones and charging stations can be configured to cover long distances between pumping stations along oil and gas pipelines. The drones also can be used to cover acres of solar panels installed on vast farms, or wind turbines installed along roads, even in remote areas, Horn explained. The xStations can plug into a typical electric outlet. Or they can be connected to solar panels or other freestanding generators, he noted.

Though SkyX did not have permission to disclose the names of its earliest customers, it is working with several energy companies on safety tests and pilot projects today in the Americas, Horn said. The drones fly autonomously, and the company also has to secure permission in different markets to fly beyond the line of sight of human observers or pilots on the ground.

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water technology

Technology Turning Seawater Into Drinking Water

Technology / Researchers continue to examine the potential of graphene, the one-atom thin sheet of bonded carbon atoms that was created more than ten years ago after researchers first peeled a few layers off a block of graphite with some Scotch Tape, before going on to refine their technique until a sheet just a single atom thick was produced.

water technology

The nanomaterial has been posited for all sorts of potentially revolutionary uses; from faster, thinner and even transparent electronics, to biotech implants, to better battery capacity. Now researchers at the University of Manchester say they have come up with a method for controlling the permeation of graphene oxide membranes so they can act as a filter to remove salt from ocean water. By controlling the size of the pores in the membranes the team was able to prevent common salts passing through the material, turning seawater into drinking water.

While graphene has previously been demonstrated for filtering small nanoparticles, organic molecules, and even large salts, the challenge with common salts found in seawater is their small size. Graphene membranes also swell in size when immersed in water; meaning smaller sieves were required in order to block these common salts.

The team at Manchester say they used physical confinement to control the interlayer spacing within graphene laminates immersed in water, enabling them to achieve what they describe as “accurate and tunable ion sieving”, and to provide a sieve size smaller than the diameters of hydrated ions.

While they found that permeation rates for the membranes decrease exponentially with decreasing sieve size, they also report that water transport itself is only “weakly affected.” That means the filtered water flows through the membrane relatively quickly; an important factor if the aim is to develop affordable desalination technology. As well as potential uses for desalination, the team envisages wider industrial applications for “on-demand filtration capable of filtering out ions according to their sizes.” This study is detailed in a paper published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Professor Rahul Nair, one of the scientists stated, “Realisation of scalable membranes with uniform pore size down to atomic scale is a significant step forward and will open new possibilities for improving the efficiency of desalination technology. This is the first clear-cut experiment in this regime. We also demonstrate that there are realistic possibilities to scale up the described approach and mass produce graphene-based membranes with required sieve sizes.”

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formula e

Manufacturers Ready For The All Electric Race; 2018 Formula E Season

Formula E recently announced the nine manufacturers that will race electric cars in seasons five, six, and seven. You may think it’s that big of a deal, but it is. Beginning in season five, each team will race one car per driver for the entire race, instead of two.

formula e

 

Because battery technology fell behind series founder Alejandro Agag’s aspiration for all-electric racing, Formula E teams have fielded two drivers with two cars per driver. That meant four cars in the garage. Usually about halfway through the race the driver would have to pull into pit row, climb out of the first car, and jump into a second car with a charged battery.

The new single-car standard will cover seasons five, six, and seven, which begin in fall 2018. The nine manufacturers who have met this standard are: ABT Formel E, BMW AG, DS Automobiles, Jaguar Land Rover, Mahindra Racing, NextEV NIO, Penske Autosport, Renault, and Venturi Automobiles.

There are teams currently racing that are not represented on this list, including Faraday Future Dragon Racing and Techeetah. However, other manufacturers are continuing their commitment to electric open-wheel racing, like Renault, Venturi, NextEV, and Mahindra. Jaguar joined the series for 2016-2017, while MS Amlin Andretti seems to be dropping out before the new standards come into play. Mercedes-Benz had been planning to join the fray in season five, but its name is not on this list published by FIA, the series’ governing body.

There will also be a new Formula E car on the track in 2018; Spark Racing Technology will produce identical bodies for each team to paint and cover in stickers however they would like. The new battery that makes single-car racing possible will be supplied to the teams by McLaren Applied Technologies. The Roborace series should be up and running by that time, too.

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    technology nasa

    App Technology Allows Users To View Landscapes From Space

    The global imaging technology company that acquired Google’s Terra Bella satellite imaging business recently, Planet, is introducing a new tool called Planet Explorer Beta that permits its users to view how its image captures of Earth from space change over time. It is available to the public without a login, which means almost anyone can see what a particular spot on the planet looked like over a yearly or monthly period.

    technology nasa

    Will Marshall, Planet co-founder and CEO, describes in a blog post that the company has noticed that, as it captures images of the same locations over time, almost all places show visible signs of transformation. Planet’s satellite network captures a lot more imagery than has typically been available, and on a more frequent basis. It can collect a new photo of every piece of land on Earth on a daily basis, via its network of almost 150 orbital satellites. It proves things transform almost indefinitely all over the planet.

    There is clearly a business focus with Planet’s choice to reveal Explore Beta publicly with no login required. Use of the resulting images is limited to non-commercial purposes, and Planet anticipates this will drive free account sign-ups, which unlock access to not only yearly and monthly change imagery, but also daily comparisons. These gimmicks are likely to convert at least some users into paid subscribers, which permits them to use the available data for commercial use.

    However, Planet also says it believes imagery of the Earth should be freely accessible to all, including NGOs, individuals, and small companies, rather than exclusive province of big corporations and government agencies. For the everyday user, this is a great modern way to pass some time looking at truly fascinating satellite images, and getting some new perspective on the all-too inevitable passage of time.

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    technology

    VR & AR Technology to Help Vision Impaired

    You don’t need perfect vision for virtual reality technology, however it helps. Otherwise, you’re going to have issues with accommodating glasses, ocular distances maxing out, eye tracking not working, to name just a few. Researchers from Stanford want to simplify things for people with vision problems while using VR. Common conditions like farsightedness and nearsightedness affect millions of people. Combined with how VR presents depth of field and other effects, this leads to optical troubles and inconsistencies that can cause headaches and nausea.

    technology

    VR headsets often allow for adjusting things like the distance from your eye to the screen and how far apart your eyes are. However, for many, it’s not enough. Stanford’s Gordon Wetzstein said, “Every person needs a different optical mode to get the best possible experience in VR.” His team’s research describes a set of mechanisms that together comprise what they call an adaptive focus display. One idea uses a liquid lens, the shape of which can be adjusted for certain circumstances; like when the focus of the game is on an object that the viewer normally would not be able to focus on. The screen itself could also be moved in order to better fit the optical requirements of someone with a given affliction.

    Wetzstein stated, “The technology we propose is perfectly compatible with existing head mounted displays. However, one also needs eye tracking for this to work properly. Eye tracking is a technology that everyone in the industry is working on and we expect eye trackers to be part of the next wave of [head-mounted displays]. Thus, our gaze-contingent focus displays would be directly compatible with those.” In the paper, both commercial and built-from-scratch headsets are used to prototype various methods of adjusting optical qualities of the displays. The team tested these with 173 participants at last year’s SIGGRAPH conference. The news release reports an “improved viewing experiences across a wide range of vision characteristics.”

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    Auto Technology: New Vehicles May Be Required To Come Equipped With V2V By 2023

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published a proposal recently to require all new vehicles to come equipped with vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication capabilities. It isn’t an official requirement yet however, if it goes into effect in 2019, manufacturers would be able to phase the technology into their fleets over a few years, with all new vehicles being required to communicate with each other by 2023. The guideline not only requires the technology to be on board; it also standardizes the messages that vehicles will share. Each vehicle would come with a short-range communications (DSRC) unit that receives and sends out basic safety messages (BSMs).

    virtual reality vr stocks

    BSMs are basic and include data like speed, heading, and brake status. The proposal says specifically, “NHTSA purposely does not require some elements to alleviate potential privacy concerns.” The target here is to confirm all vehicles are speaking the same language in short messages. The proposal also includes a requirement that all vehicles be able to receive over-the-air security and software updates, with “consumer consent, where appropriate.” The proposal is pretty clear that vehicles should use the data received to engage other on-board sensor and safety systems, like automatic emergency braking. NHTSA also calls out the benefits of vehicles communicating in a swarm and helping each other to see beyond the limits of their own sensors and DSRC messages.

    The government does not believe V2V technology is moving fast enough. The proposed rule states, “Without government action, these challenges could prevent this promising safety technology from achieving sufficiently widespread use throughout the vehicle fleet to achieve these benefits.” NHTSA also notes that without requiring this technology, consumers may not choose to purchase it. If you the consumer only see safety benefits from V2V when other cars have it, but not enough other people are buying it, then you might not buy it either. NHTSA is just going to require all vehicles to have it.

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      Toyota’s Concept-i Gets To Know Its Driver

      A new concept vehicle was revealed by Toyota called the Concept-i at CES. The car was built with the CALTY design research group. We spoke to CALTY Project Design Manager William Chergosky about the process of building the Concept-i. He said it was about discovering a new way to bring the thrill people feel about driving now to a potential future in which the experience is much more exciting.

      concept-i

      Chergosky stated, “We’ve been working on this for approximately two years, and we’re trying to create a futuristic vision for the 2030 automobile that’s really fun to drive. As everyone’s moving towards an autonomous future, what’s Toyota’s vision of that? We had a real fundamental belief in this idea of ‘waku-doki’ getting your heart racing. Is that something that dies with this future? I don’t think it is.”

      According to Chergosky, a large part of accomplishing that comes down to user experience design. That is why the Concept-i pays close attention to how it signals a switch from manual to autonomous mode and how it greets the user. Setting the mood for either method of control, there are LED lights throughout the interior and across the body that cue the driver about their experience.

      Chergosky said, “Our fundamental idea behind it was trying to humanize or warm up the technology, and make it more approachable. The idea of trying to humanize it is to try to narrow that gap between you and the technology.

      They took the concept of “kinetic warmth” as a core protocol in designing the Concept-i, which meant building something that came to life and was technically able. That is why Toyota placed an AI at the center of the in-car experience, nicknaming it ‘Yui.’ This virtual companion is created to get to know you as a person, and as a driver. Yui was also designed to adapt its behavior in order to best provide that driving excitement that Toyota targets

      Communicating with other vehicles and pedestrians are the key areas of focus in this concept. Through Concept-i’s exterior lighting system, Yui can inform others whether it’s in manual or autonomous drive mode and notify drivers behind about upcoming road hazards or turns. It even greets passengers who are approaching the car.

      0 17

      There have been plans about Amazon’s drone delivery since 2013. Patent filings from Amazon that were circulated by Zoe Leavitt of CB Insights, reveal more detail about how the company could make drone deliveries work through “airborne fulfillment centers.” That would be a warehouse in a zeppelin.

      The AFCs (airborne fulfillment centers), would be furnished with a certain amount of inventory and positioned near a location where Amazon anticipates demand for certain items will soon increase. Drones could be housed at the AFCs and sent down to make a scheduled delivery.

      An example cited in the filing was around a sporting event. If there is a popular game happening down below, Amazon’s AFCs above could be loaded up with snacks ordered by the sports fanatics. The AFCs could be flown near a stadium to drop off audio or outdoor display advertising close to the event.

      The patent reflects a complex network of systems to aid the delivery by air. Besides the airborne fulfillment the company anticipates larger shuttles that could carry people and supplies to the AFCs or back to the ground. Using a bigger shuttle to bring the drones up to the AFC would allow Amazon to reserve power for making deliveries.

      Naturally, these elements would be connected to an inventory management system run by people in the air or on the ground. This filing reveals that the drones and shuttles could function together in a network. They would relay data back and forth about routing, wind speed, and weather. We reached out to Amazon to learn more about their progress on this concept, and whether or not they have a date for when they might launch their first AFC.

      Will this replace the local delivery services? Only time will tell.

      0 15

      The days of Hewlett, Packard, Jobs and Wozniak are long gone. The days when technology was pretty simple and all you needed was some tech know-how; a few transistors, a soldering iron and a garage. This was a time of amazing opportunity.

      Hardware became so sophisticated that it got to the point where you could not do much without a multimillion dollar facility. Hackers were forced to move to software and the internet relocated them out of garages and into their bedrooms. The possibilities were endless with just a laptop and a little bit of coding knowledge.

      These days hardware and software have both become incredibly advanced. It is so rare to find an expert in artificial intelligence; that when found, they are being paid like sports stars. Ironically; in this day and age, tech giants such as: Microsoft, Amazon, IBM and Google are making resources available to anyone who desires to access some of the world’s most advanced technology.

      A Plumber’s Dream

      If you own a building; you may share a common fear with other building owners that can cost you hundreds if not thousands of dollars in repairs. The fear of an undetected water leak. It can, at times, be difficult to detect the exact source of water leaks by plumbers.

      AquaSeca is a startup that believes it has found a solution to this problem by creating a small “wearable for pipes” that can monitor water flow within a building. When there is any sort of abnormal water flow it can identify the problem and notify the owner of the building. This in turn can save the building owner a lot of money through early detection and identification.

      This of course involves sophisticated technology. Once scaled, it will monitor thousands of sensors, connect them to customer’s devices and integrate complex analytics and machine learning algorithms. Something that just 10 years back would have been impossible for even major tech companies. Today a startup like AquaSeca can get all the resources it needs to make this possible from the library of machine learning tools that Google has outsourced.

      Any Car Can Be A Smart Car

      Smart Cars: Automobiles and the internet have assisted fleet managers in lowering costs and improving service. Artificial intelligence including GPS’ have given dispatchers the capability of accessing a “vehicle health report” if drivers on the road run into problems and give them the ability to send help if necessary.

      ActiveScaler is a startup that transforms everyday cars into smart cars. Their technology includes voice recognition, video analytics and even facial recognition. They presently support more than 20,000 cars on four continents. It runs on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform as well as its CNTK library of machine learning tools and HDInsight, its advanced cloud analytical package.

      Google Glass For Factories

      In January 2015 Google stopped production of its “Google Glass” which was announced in April, 2012. Google glass would have given individuals the ability to walk around recognizing people through facial recognition; pull up data on them, then take pictures and video without being noticed. This raised serious concerns.

      Although Google stopped production; the potential of the technology for specialized uses is still intriguing. For example: In an industrial environment a field service employee may use the product to recognize a specific model of machine to be repaired, pull up a service manual and be guided through a service call with graphics.

      The startup SeToOS has built a prototype. They did not disclose specifically how their technology was built. It is obvious; however, there are many resources to draw from. Visual recognition, the Internet of Things and advanced analytics are all easily accessible to just about anybody with an idea for an application.

      The New Competitive Advantage

      AquaSeca, ActiveScaler and SeToOS are all early stage startups which are still in their “garage mode” days, so to speak. Although they do not have billion dollar research budgets or industrial labs they are still able to access technology that would have been impossible to access just ten years ago. Tech giants like Microsoft and IBM would have never shared their proprietary assets in such a manner back in the day. Ironically, today IBM and Microsoft freely share their intellectual property with anyone who has an idea and so do newer companies such as Google and Facebook.

      Mendix is a company that offers a platform to help mid-size and large enterprises, (who would otherwise not have had the ability to do so) connect to resources like these. The platform is so user friendly that even marketing managers can participate in developing applications. As a result Mendix is growing at a rate of 100% annually.

      You may wonder why the tech giants are so generously sharing their technology. It was not that long ago that they would have made it impossible for anyone to access this information and would have sought to destroy anyone trying to compete with them. Yet now they are allowing everyone to see what their best minds produce. Why?

      The answer lies in the fact that collaboration is the new competitive advantage. They earn huge revenues by offering their technology as a service in addition to offering it as a product. Their technology improves the wider it is used. The bottom line is that now a days; power resides in the center of networks rather than the top of value chains.

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