Microsoft’s Cortana turns up heat with smart thermostat


Microsoft has unveiled the first smart thermostat that comes with integrated Cortana voice controls, built in partnership with Johnson Controls, an Irish manufacturing conglomerate. The thermostat, named GLAS, will run the Windows 10 IoT Core operating system, designed for Internet of Things devices like smart fridges, smoke detectors, and door locks. Users will be able to adjust the temperature in a room, check air quality, and view calendar information. See Also: In the coming cloud computing war, storage is the next front Like most smart thermostats, the temperature will change on the fly…Read More

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Google finds its Glass after two years in the dark


After two years in the dark, Google Glass has returned, launching a new enterprise edition (EE) that several major corporations have already deployed into their workforce. Google Glass EE improves on the first model — sold to enthusiasts for $ 1,500 — with better networking, security, a faster processor, more battery life, and a higher megapixel camera. See Also: Google slashes needs for YouTube creators working on VR content The search giant has listened to complaints over the last two years, as corporations trialled the technology in secret. When recording video, Google Glass now flashes…Read More

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With hundreds of choices, how can you pick an IoT platform?

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For those involved in the IoT space, it feels as if not a day goes past without the launch of yet another IoT platform, promising a seamless conduit between connected devices and user applications. Talk to any platform vendor and they’ll all earnest declare that their platform is the best, providing features and capabilities that exceed those of other platforms. See also: IoT and dev platforms — connecting the world together German research company IoT Analytics recently released its current Global IoT Platform Companies List. The database now includes 450 IoT Platform…Read More

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WeChat’s director of user growth talks up new features for overseas clients

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I got a chance to sit down at RISE 2017 in Hong Kong with WeChat’s Director of User Growth Stephen Wang.  For those unfamiliar, WeChat began as a messaging app back in 2010 created by China’s Tencent, but over the years, it has quickly become a tool of everyday life in mainland China. WeChat has 889 million monthly active users; 83 percent of people surveyed use WeChat for work, and 93 percent of respondents from Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities use WeChat’s internal payment system for offline purchases. See also: Why do major American corporations struggle in China? Having such a deep hold on…Read More

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Oculus may soon offer consumers choice in VR headsets


Following on from a report yesterday that said Oculus may be launching a $ 200 standalone virtual reality headset late this year, rumors now suggest that several headsets, capable of working with a connected PC or mobile, are currently in development. Oculus is “exploring multiple options in a ‘spectrum’ of standalone devices for the future,” according to Ars Technica. The standalone devices will be sold in tandem with the Oculus Rift. See Also: Facebook slashes price of Oculus Rift for second time At least one of the device in development has “six degrees of freedom” full motion…Read More

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Fitbit confident smartwatch will arrive on time, despite rumors of delays


Fitbit’s next smartwatch is “on track” to launch at the end of this year, according to chief executive James Park, who denied the multiple rumors of delays. In an interview with the Financial Times, Park said the smartwatch will be the company’s best yet, sporting “industry leading” GPS performance, a music player, and new biometric sensors that may find use in the medical industry, if Fitbit receives FDA approval. See Also: Study hints that wearables are terrible at counting calories, just like their users One thing that won’t be in the next Fitbit is cellular options, which…Read More

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How drones will change our retail experience, our cities and our skies


The acquisition of Whole Foods by Amazon has been the focus of much attention over the last week. And it’s not only retailers that are taking notice. With our increased desire for delivered goods, drone companies are looking toward Amazon as a way to shepherd in the use of drones in mainstream retail. Amazon is, in many respects, primed for success in such a market, especially with the creation of its Prime Air drone delivery platform. In March, Amazon completed its first public demonstration of drone deliveries, ferrying sunscreen to attendees at an Amazon-hosted conference in…Read More

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Facebook finally adds virtual reality app to the social network


Facebook has made its first move to integrate virtual reality onto the main social network, confirming that users of its VR app Spaces will now be able to broadcast themselves on a live video. Spaces is an Oculus-only app that lets users sit in a virtual room, chat to friends, watch videos, and draw. Facebook built it as a social environment for VR users, who primarily play video games. See Also: Oculus Rift price slashed for second time When the space is broadcast, non-VR viewers look in on the virtual room and send interactive comments. VR users can pick the comments up in the room and…Read More

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Bluetooth sharpens teeth for mesh networking flexibility


Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has added support for mesh networks, aimed at creating large-scale device networks for automation, sensor networks, and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions. It is another update focused on making Bluetooth a more viable option for IoT and many-to-many device communications. Previous updates have included extended range, increased speed, and better power management. See Also: Could LPWA trump 5G and Mesh for smart cities? “By adding support for mesh networking, the member community is continuing a long history of focused innovation to help new,…Read More

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Is speech recognition software having a renaissance?

Voice recognition.

The past months have witnessed breakthrough announcements from Microsoft, IBM, and Google, all hitting new marks in speech recognition accuracy; they claim that the error rate has reached 5.1 percent — the word error rate of humans. Still, that doesn’t seem particularly accurate — the last time I spoke to a machine, I didn’t get the feeling that the recognition was nearly that good. Let’s review the next generation of speech technologies, how they are enabling new analytics, and the growing role of these insights for businesses to see whether the companies’ claims are…Read More

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