Consumer Products & Services


Basic income could work--if you do it Canada-style

MIT Technology Review

Dana Bowman, 56, expresses gratitude for fresh produce at least 10 times in the hour and a half we're having coffee on a frigid spring day in Lindsay, Ontario. Over the many years she scraped by on government disability payments, she tended to stick to frozen vegetables. She'd also save by visiting a food bank or buying marked-down items near or past their sell-by date. But since December, Bowman has felt secure enough to buy fresh fruit and vegetables. She's freer, she says, to "do what nanas do" for her grandchildren, like having all four of them over for turkey on Easter.


The Mission to Build the Ultimate Burger Bot

WIRED

As he grew older, he often played in the back of the kitchen among pallets of hamburger buns while his parents worked. At 8, he started filling drink orders, standing on top of a milk crate to reach the soda machine. Sometimes he ran food experiments, soaking burger meat in Worcestershire sauce to see if it would taste better. He learned snippets of Spanish from the line cooks, Apolinar and Ernie, and at 12 he started working beside them. Now 33, Vardakostas lives in San Francisco, and for the past nine years, he's been building a robot that can cook and assemble around 100 burgers an hour--keeping pace with a typical fast-food staff--with little human intervention.


Amazon launches Alexa for Hospitality to bring voice-enabled services to hotel guests

#artificialintelligence

Amazon has announced a new program designed to help hotels deploy Alexa's voice-enabled smarts across their properties. Though Amazon's Alexa-powered Echo speakers are growing in popularity across the domestic realm -- helping users control their doors, lights, and search the web using nothing but their voice -- the internet giant has been targeting the hospitality sector for a while already. High-end hotel firm Wynn Resorts has been placing thousands of Amazon Echo speakers in its hotels since last summer, for example. And as of April, Alexa has been able to make phone calls in hotel rooms. Put simply, Amazon recognizes that hotels are a perfect showcase for its automated AI technologies.


12 of the best Amazon Alexa skills for kids (and their parents)

Mashable

Amazon Alexa is quite possibly one of the best things to ever happen to your smart home. The voice assistant is capable of quickly ordering pizza from Domino's or Pizza Hut, playing podcasts throughout your home, and even playing a quick game of Skyrim. It can help you find a date, or even sleep better with relaxing meditation and sleep machines with nature sounds. But did you know Alexa can also help you be a better parent to your child? There are a number of clever tips, tricks, and skills that you can tap into via Alexa which will help you navigate the unpredictable journey of parenthood.


Virtual assistants don't need developers or AI

#artificialintelligence

Virtual assistants can go beyond playing music or buying things on Amazon. And they don't need corps of developers or fancy artificial intelligence technology to do so. Business and society in general have moved a long way towards self-service. Most offices no longer have a secretarial pool, and most managers and even some executives don't have a dedicated assistant. Travel agents and other common jobs of yesteryear still exist but you don't go to a travel agent to book a simple direct domestic flight; you go to a website.


Tech Tracker: TGI Fridays taps AI tech to build guest engagement

#artificialintelligence

This month's Tech Tracker takes a closer look at stealth AI tech used by TGI Fridays to personalize marketing Thank God, it's AI at TGI Fridays. While most casual-dining brands are betting big on customer-facing tablet technology, TGI Fridays is investing in artificial intelligence to harvest data that will drive diner frequency. Guests of the Dallas-based chain can now use a variety of social media platforms to place an order. From that customer interaction, TGI Fridays is using AI to identify ordering patterns, and that information is used to personalize marketing. If a guest order ribs through any of the platforms, for example, that data can be used to create future invitations based on that customer's food preferences, said Sherif Mityas, Fridays chief experience officer.


Basic income could work--if you do it Canada-style

MIT Technology Review

Dana Bowman, 56, expresses gratitude for fresh produce at least 10 times in the hour and a half we're having coffee on a frigid spring day in Lindsay, Ontario. Over the many years she scraped by on government disability payments, she tended to stick to frozen vegetables. She'd also save by visiting a food bank or buying marked-down items near or past their sell-by date. But since December, Bowman has felt secure enough to buy fresh fruit and vegetables. She's freer, she says, to "do what nanas do" for her grandchildren, like having all four of them over for turkey on Easter.


American Airlines Suffers The Latest Airline IT Meltdown

International Business Times

Within the span of a month during the summer of 2016, two of the top four U.S. airlines suffered crippling IT failures. Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) and Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV) were each forced to cancel thousands of flights during the peak season, leading to lost revenue and reputational damage. This article originally appeared in the Motley Fool. The summer 2018 peak season is just getting started, but there has already been a major airline IT failure. In the past week, flight cancellations have rapidly mounted at American Airlines' (NASDAQ:AAL) regional subsidiary PSA Airlines, due to problems with the carrier's crew scheduling system.


Alexa Is Headed to Your Hotel Room

Slate

Amazon's Alexa has infiltrated our homes, offices, bathrooms, and cars. It was only a matter of time before it expanded to other places we spend time, too--like our hotel rooms. While some enterprising chains and establishments had begun introducing Echos and Echo Dots into their guest quarters, Amazon on Tuesday announced Alexa for Hospitality, a hotel-specific version of its assistant software. The announcement included a partnership with Marriott Hotels, where Alexa for Hospitality will debut at select Marriott, Aloft, Westin, Autograph Collection, and St. Regis hotels and resorts this summer. It'll come to other hotels and vacation rental facilities on an invite-only basis.


Alexa, what time's checkout? Amazon introduces Alexa for hotels

USATODAY

We've got some simple tips you can take to keep Amazon's Alexa from eavesdropping into your conversations and potentially sharing them. The new Amazon Echo is on display on Sept. 27, 2017, in Seattle. Beginning this summer, Amazon will make a new version of the Echo available to some Marriott International hotels. SAN FRANCISCO -- Alexa, what time is checkout? This summer, guests staying in some Marriott International hotel rooms will have access to a new virtual concierge.