IoT weekly round-up: Thursday 13th July 2017

This week in the connected world, DARPA funds the efforts of six groups to develop a brain-to-computer, two-way interface, there’s a new tool for the visually impaired with text and facial recognition, and IBM has a new solution in town: The IBM Services Platform with Watson. Read on for the latest.

DARPA agency awards $ 65 million to fund brain-computer interface

DARPA will fund five academic research groups and one San Jose-based company, in a bid to develop a two-way brain-computer interface. The goal is to create neural implants that will enable the human brain to speak straight to computer interfaces. One team, at Brown, are working on a network of ‘neurograins’ – or sensors – to be worn as implants in the cerebral cortex, in the hope of decoding how the brain understands spoken language.

PayPal is now a payment option for Apple users in 11 new markets

PayPal is now available as an option on iOS devices, as the result of an expanded partnership with Apple, announced earlier this week. Paypal was already available as a payment method on iTunes for U.S. users, but this expansion gives access to 11 new countries, including the U.K., Australia, Canada, Mexico, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, France, Italy and Israel.

The OrCam MyEye recognizes faces and text

Those with vision difficulties now have a secret weapon: a tiny wearable that clips on to your glasses and reads text for you. The OrCam MyEye comes with camera, speaker and cable that hooks up to a larger smartphone-esque device. It can read text on pretty much any medium (and in most languages too) – you just need to point to what you’re reading. Facial recognition is another key tool. If you’ve made a previous record of a face, the device will tell you the name of the person it belongs to. If not, it drops handy hints describing the person looking at you and their proximity.

You can now try out Apple smart home experiences in its retail stores

To those who haven’t had the opportunity to play with Apple HomeKit products in situ, these devices may be something of an enigma. But now, Apple is offering HomeKit experiences in 46 of its retail stores, to help potential customers understand how it all works. Customers can use the Home app from most Apple devices to control light bulbs, ceiling fans and shades at the touch of a button.

Microsoft’s AI for Earth will support environmental projects

Microsoft announced a new programmed dedicated to AI-based projects for agriculture, water, biodiversity and climate change, known as AI for Earth. Microsoft will donate its own tools and services (to the tune of $ 2 million) to the project, which will be led by Lucas Joppa, Microsoft’s Chief Environmental Scientist.

The IBM Services Platform with Watson leverages AI to manage IT operations

IBM is launching the IBM Services Platform with Watson – a machine learning product that helps businesses manage their IT infrastructure and make better decisions with the help of data insights. With the IBM Services Platform, the data gathered from enterprise networks and operations can be used to prevent future problems, take preventative action and autonomously fix existing issues. The solution provides IT staff with data-driven insights about their networks and tools, and is already in play with early adopter Danske Bank as part of a 10-year IT infrastructure service contract.

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IoT weekly round-up, Thursday 13th April 2017

Welcome to the IoT weekly round-up, the latest news from the connected world. This week, there’s more on Waymo’s suit against Uber for alleged patent infiltration, Samsung delays its voice assistant Bixby until the spring, and Apple are pushing reset on the Mac Pro.

Samsung delays its Siri equivalent

Samsung has confirmed that its voice-powered assistant, Bixby, will be delayed. The Bixby solution was unveiled last month and slated to debut on the new S8 and S8+ devices, which will now ship without it. Google’s voice assistant will be available instead as a standard part of the Android operating system. If you can wait until the spring, you’ll be able to get the full Bixby as an update.

Apple to re-think Mac Pro

Apple revealed that it will be working on a new machine to replace the Mac Pro they introduced in 2013. As the Mac user base gets close to 100 million users, Apple are re-thinking the entire system and releasing a new external display. The old Mac Pro design will get a performance upgrade and remain on sale this year, so no need to panic if you’ve just bought one.

Waymo sues Uber and Otto

Waymo, the self-driving tech unit belonging to Google, is suing Uber and Otto for misappropriating trade secrets. Uber has admitted its self-driving vehicles are still using commercially available LiDAR systems, which it claims differ from Waymo’s LiDAR. Google have alleged that Anthony Levandowski, an engineer formerly employed by Google, downloaded 14,000 documents from a database containing information on self-driving technology onto a personal device. Get the full picture from TechCrunch’s helpful timeline.

Apple launches Clips – a simple video editing app

Apple has launched a social video editing app known as Clips which uses voice to tech technology to add captions to video in real time. The app allows users to put together short videos, with added emojis, music, captions and filters, and share the result on social networks. The unavoidably Snapchat-ish app is a simple solution aimed at those who don’t fancy Final Cut or iMovie.

Amazon Cash means no more bank cards

Amazon Cash – a service allowing consumers to shop without using their bank cards – launched last week. The tool allows users to apply cash to their online Amazon account by showing a barcode at participating stores, including CVS Pharmacy, Speedway, Sheetz, Kum & Go, D&W Fresh Market, Family Fare Supermarkets and VG’s Grocery. Users can add between $ 15 and $ 500 in one transaction.

Google’s AI challenges China’s top Go player

Google is seeking to pit its AI technology against China’s top Go player, Ke Jie. It plans to play a best-of-three match against Ke Jie and other human opponents in Wuzhen, China, later this month. Google’s AlphaGo software was developed by DeepMind, a British computer company bought by Google in 2014. Last year, the program, which learns through self-play, beat one of South Korea’s top Go players in a landmark 4-1 victory.

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