IoT weekly round-up: 18th January 2018

Welcome to the IoT weekly round-up. This week, net neutrality is in the news once again as Senators plan to oppose the FCC’s recent decision to scrap it. Meanwhile, cryptocurrencies are going belly-up, and there’ll soon be new speech recognition technology designed for children’s voices.

Senate leaders back plan to restore net neutrality

On 14 December, the FCC voted to end net neutrality. As suspected, the order was far from unopposed, and now 49 Democrat Senators and one Republican are ready to voice their disapproval officially. Just one more vote is needed to send the bill, led by Senator Ed Markey, to the House of Representatives.

Cryptocurrencies see dramatic loss in value

It’s long been on the cards, and now Bitcoin is crashing, amid concerns of a potential trading ban in South Korea. That said, no one’s really sure what’s behind the dramatic shift in value – such is the volatile nature of cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin is down about 15 percent, hovering below the $ 10,000 mark, leaving December’s giddy heights of around $ 20,000 far behind. Ethereum, meanwhile fell by 20 percent.

True Fit personalization platform raises $ 55 in Series C funding

Machine learning has a place in the fashion industry, if True Fit’s recent financial success is anything to go by. The clothing and footwear personalization platform has just raised $ 55 million in Series C funding. The idea is to help online shoppers find clothes that fit properly – by matching data on clothes they’ve bought previously with the ones they’re considering for their next purchase. 100 data points pulled from major clothing brands use AI to help shoppers find clothes that suit their taste and body shape.

SoapBox is creating speech recognition technology especially for children

It’s not something I’ve thought about before, but most speech recognition technology is built for adults. It just doesn’t work that well for kids. That is, until now. SoapBox Labs, an Irish startup, is creating speech technology designed to accommodate children’s higher pitched voices and characteristic speech patterns. The company plans to offer its tech to other hardware and app developers, supporting voice-recognition for home IoT devices, AR/VR and smart toys.

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IoT weekly round-up: 11th January 2018

Happy New Year! Welcome to this year’s first instalment of the IoT weekly round-up. It’s January, so naturally our crew are scoping out the Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2018) for the juiciest new developments in connected gadgetry goodness. Read on for some of the highlights so far.

Highlights from CES 2018

Automotive is the name of the game at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. We’ve seen a B2V (brain-to-vehicle) demo from Nissan that anticipates driver actions before they occur, AR in the car and new AI platforms from Nvidia, and a step in the right direction for accessible mobility with Olli, our very own self-driving shuttle bus. There have been other surprises too – including a significant presence from Google (boothed for the first time) and, in a moment of droll irony, a power cut that plunged attendees into darkness. IBM-ers Laura Langendorf and Kal Gyimesi are on the scene, so keep an eye on the blog for their coverage of #CES2018.

LifeDoor automatically closes doors in case of fire

There’s a new player on the safety gadget front, and it’s beloved of firefighters the world over. It’s called LifeDoor, and works by automatically closing your home’s doors in case of fire to prevent the spread of smoke and flames. The idea is to prevent deaths from smoke inhalation and toxic gases that could have been avoided by containment. It’s child-friendly – the doors aren’t so much slammed shut as gently closed, and can easily be pushed open again if need be. There’s planned smart home integration on the horizon, which will mean the device can sense whether or not someone is inside a room. Pre-orders will be available soon, with shipping expected for Autumn 2018.

Under Armour releases new connected shoes

Sports wearables manufacturer Under Amour has released two new pairs of connected running shoes: Hovr Phantom and Hovr Sonic. Both boast embedded Bluetooth module, accelerometer and gyroscope in their foam soles, which are triggered by movement. They sync with a connected handset to display metrics on distance travelled, stride length and running cadence. If you want a pair, they retail at $ 140 (Hovr Phantom) and $ 110 (Hovr Sonic.)

The AAA and Torc Robotics talk safety for self-driving cars

The American Automobile Association is working with Torc Robotics to establish a set of safety criteria for self-driving vehicles. As a starting point for this work, it will be testing Torc’s self-driving vehicles on public streets. The tests represent one part of a larger testing programme, involving a partnership with GoMentum Stadium, a testing facility for autonomous vehicles in California.

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IoT weekly round-up: Thursday 14th December

Welcome to this week’s IoT round-up. Today, the FCC will vote whether to scrap net neutrality, a move that would have far-reaching consequences. On the lighter side, there’s a new robot-written Harry Potter chapter, courtesy of Botnik Studios, and researchers from the University of California are trying to give machines an imagination. Read on for the latest.

39 senators urge FCC to abandon plan to scrap net neutrality

The FCC’s proposal to eliminate net neutrality rules is due to be voted on today. While the world holds its breath, 39 senators have written to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, urging him to withdraw the ‘radical and reckless plan.’ This is the biggest complaint against the proposal so far. The full letter is available here.

This robot-produced chapter of Harry Potter will make you chuckle

Robots have written a new Harry Potter chapter using a predictive keyboard, and the results are gleefully, delightingly bonkers. Botnik Studios, a community of artists, writers and developers committed to bringing the world “strange new things”, trained a predictive keyboard on all seven Harry Potter books. Then they strung the algorithmically constructed sentences together to create a new chapter in the Harry Potter series: “Harry Potter and the portrait of looked like a large pile of ash.” To fans of the franchise, the new chapter is just the right mix of familiar and absurd, and extraordinarily funny into the bargain, as this dramatic reading will show:

Researchers train robots to develop imaginative skills

Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, are working on a technology called ‘visual foresight’, that will give robots the ability to ‘imagine the future of their actions.’ This capability is quite straightforward for now. It can’t quite mange ‘what will I wish I’d done when I’m eighty’, but it can make basic predictions a few seconds into the future. According to the researchers, the robots can ‘predict what their cameras will see if they perform a particular sequence of movements.’

Google opens AI center in China

It’s official: Google is definitely opening an AI center in Beijing, China. While the search engine is blocked in China, the company itself is very much present. Google still has lots of China-based staff working on its international services. The new team will work with AI experts in other Google offices, like New York, Toronto, London and Zurich. Dr Fei-Fei Li, Chief Scientist at Google Cloud, will lead the new team alongside Jia Li, formerly head of research at Snap.

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IoT weekly round-up: Thursday 7th December 2017

It’s been a little turbulent for all things internet and IoT-related this week. Fake feedback comments may delay the net neutrality vote, Volocopter aims to launch its flying taxis by 2020 and there’s a new service to help predict an impending Bitcoin crash. Read on for the latest from the connected world.

Bitcoin Bubble Burst warns you of a coming crash

Bitcoin believers and sceptics alike may benefit from Bitcoin Bubble Burst. It’s a service that alerts you in real-time to factors that might precipitate the crash everyone seems to be expecting. Bitcoin Bubble Burst’s machine learning system is trained to spot potential crisis points and give you a chance to sell before the panic truly sets in. It keeps watch for relevant news stories and major shifts in Bitcoin price, then passes on the information as a kind of digest. Future plans include the ability for users to set their own risk thresholds, determining how often they receive alerts.

Ionic, the Fitbit smartwatch, to incorporate 60 new apps

Fitbit is adding 60 new apps to its Ionic smartwatch, according to a blog posted on Tuesday. The apps include Yelp, Uber, Nest and TripAdvisor, with music service Deezer to join next year. You can expect 100 new watch faces to choose from, too.

Flying taxis are only two or three years away, says Volocoper

Volocoper, a German-based company, expects to provide flying taxis in just two or three years. Speaking at TechCrunch’s Disrupt event in Berlin, CIO and co-founder Alex Zosel said that the first commercial applications could be up and running by 2020. It’s likely the service will start life as a solution to ease traffic congestion in built-up areas, and develop into a shuttle service later down the line.

IBM’s POWER9 chip is built for AI

IBM has a new chip in town: POWER9. The POWER9 processor has four times the bandwidth of its predecessor and is built to handle intensive AI and machine learning workloads. Its start-of-the-art I/O subsystem technology includes next generation NVIDIA NVLink, PCle Gen4, and OpenCAPI: interfaces that will give data scientists more accurate insights more quickly than ever before. There’s also a new server offering AI processing speeds of up to 300 petaflops: the IBM Power Systems AC922.

New York Attorney General calls for delay on net neutrality vote

A couple of weeks ago, we wrote about Ajit Pai’s controversial plan to scrap current net neutrality rules – a proposal that will be put to the vote on 14th December. The net neutrality feedback process prompted over 23 million comments, of which one million may be linked to stolen identities, according to the office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Schneiderman has joined 27 senators in calling for a delay to the vote, while the source of the fraudulent comments is investigated.

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IoT weekly round-up: Thursday 30th November 2017

This week, self-driving car Waymo racks up 4 million miles on the road, and Shopify has a new app to track your packages in real time.

Self-driving Waymo passes the 4 million mile mark

Waymo, formerly Google’s self-driving car project, now has 4 million self-driven miles to its credit. The distance, which would take a human driver 300 years to cover, represents the collective effort of Waymo’s whole test fleet. The Alphabet-owned company’s self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivans are already being tested on public roads in Arizona – minus a safety driver for human back-up. The recent milestone means Waymo is currently leading the autonomous driving pack – at least where distance travelled is concerned.

Shopify’s Arrive app makes package tracking easy

Online shoppers might like Shopify’s new package tracking tool: ‘Arrive’. The app handily keeps records of all your shipments in one place, wherever you ordered them from – so you can check on your parcels’ whereabouts. It offers map-based location tracking and email account integration so that your shipments can be smoothly added to its list of items to track. You can also get automatic notifications about your parcel’s progress without needing to open the app.

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