Consumer Products & Services


Julianna Barwick Is Using the New York Sky to Make Music

The New Yorker

On a recent Tuesday evening, the experimental musician Julianna Barwick checked into Sister City, a new two-hundred-room boutique hotel on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. If you're having the sort of day that makes you want to minimize human interaction, Sister City is a merciful oasis: there are self-service registration kiosks in the lobby, and each floor features a supply closet containing the sorts of sundries that you'd usually have to request from the concierge. The lobby has sparse but careful décor--clean white walls, cherry-wood furniture, floor tiles in muted shades of green and gray--suggesting a Scandinavian sauna, or perhaps the careful serenity of a Japanese stationery store; the vibe is "Serenity Now!" filtered through Instagram. Barwick, who has long, dark hair and inquisitive eyes, is using the sky immediately above the hotel as a source for a new composition. A camera mounted to the roof of the building sends information about the goings-on in the airspace above the hotel (rain, clouds, pigeons, airplanes, wind, sun, moonlight, drones, helicopters, constellations, what have you) to Pereira's program, which uses Microsoft's artificial intelligence to cue sounds written and recorded by Barwick.


These are the industries most likely to be taken over by robots

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The fear of robots coming for your job is one of the many challenges confronting 21st-century workers, but the machines aren't ready to take on every industry just yet. Bridgewater Associates, the massive hedge fund founded by legendary investor Ray Dalio, just released a report on the changing relationship between labour and capital in the US. One of the big factors the Bridgewater authors highlighted was the ongoing rise in automation across industries, which they noted could be a support for corporate profits in the years to come as more efficient robots and software potentially replace slower and error-prone human labour. Bridgewater cited a 2016 report from consulting firm McKinsey & Company that looked at which industries in the US were most susceptible to being automated. The McKinsey report used data from the Department of Labour to estimate how much time workers in various industry sectors spent doing different types of tasks, and which of those tasks could, theoretically, be automated using present technology.


LG to develop robots for restaurants

ZDNet

LG Electronics has partnered up with CJ Foodville to develop robots that will be trialled in the latter's restaurants, the companies have announced. CJ Foodville is one of South Korea's largest food service companies, and is the parent company to popular franchises such as Twosome Place and Tous Les Jours. The coffee chain Twosome Place currently has over 1,000 stores located in South Korea. No specifics regarding the robots' functions have been provided by the companies as of yet. The push into the robotics space follows LG forming a new division for robotics and autonomous vehicles, which occurred during the company's 2018 year-end reshuffle.


iFood Invests in Artificial Intelligence The Rio Times

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RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – iFood is planning to invest US$20 million in opening an AI learning center to strengthen ties with the tech industry. With an expected staff of 100 people by the end of the year, everything from machine learning, deep learning, behavioral science, and logistics will be covered. All of this is part of iFood's US$500 million funding round that began last year. São Paulo-based iFood is one of Latin America's biggest and most successful startup food delivery company. Seeing how the international food delivery ecosystem is worth around US$94 billion, it's easy to understand why iFood takes digital innovations so seriously.


Behind Every Robot Is a Human

The Atlantic

Hundreds of human reviewers across the globe, from Romania to Venezuela, listen to audio clips recorded from Amazon Echo speakers, usually without owners' knowledge, Bloomberg reported last week. We knew Alexa was listening; now we know someone else is, too. This global review team fine-tunes the Amazon Echo's software by listening to clips of users asking Alexa questions or issuing commands, and then verifying whether Alexa responded appropriately. The team also annotates specific words the device struggles with when it's addressed in different accents. According to Amazon, users can opt out of the service, but they seem to be enrolled automatically.


Amazon Go, CafeX show a future of retail automation

ZDNet

CVS became one of the first national retailers to experiment with self-checkout as a primary means of handling payment and bagging in stores. But the heavily guided process was error-prone and frustrating. By 2015, the drugstore retreated from the initiative, but it still offers a tweaked version of the stations in many stores. Costco had also removed self-checkout from its stores, although it began experimenting with it again in 2017. Nowadays, retailers ranging from major supermarkets to The Home Depot continue to offer self-checkouts, but there is often a store staffer nearby to assist with the inevitable glitch -- a product that won't scan, a coupon that won't activate, an exhortation to bag an item that has already been bagged.


Amazon Echo Dot on sale, plus Dyson vacuum, Nintendo Switch,Winix air purifier, iPad Pro, and more for April 14

Mashable

Did you know a gram of dust contains as many as 1000 dust mites, that live off shed skin and can multiply quickly in warm, humid places and can live up to 80 days. Dust mites commonly found in mattresses, pillows, and carpets. So cleaning your house often is important, especially for people that suffer from dust allergies. Do you suffer from dust allergies? You are in luck, as you can get the Dyson Small Ball upright vacuum cleaner for $199.99 (listed at $399.99), and to add an extra layer of protection, you can get this Winix 5300-2 air purifier for $115.99.


How artificial intelligence is influencing Unilever's marketing - Digiday

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Unilever is using artificial intelligence to influence more of its marketing, from processing insights to finding influencers. The advertiser has 26 data centers across the globe where scientists are using AI to synthesize insights from a range of sources including social listening, CRM and traditional marketing research. Like other advertisers, Unilever hopes the investments fuel a move away from mass reach channels toward more personalized communications that are also cheaper to produce and localize at scale. Unilever has been using AI and machine learning to sort through structured data within a database for years, but it hasn't been able to do the same for unstructured data until recently. Unstructured data is qualitative, which makes gleaning insights from content such as text, audio, social media and mobile activity harder.


BrainCorp brings its autonomous robot tech to your local supermarket

Engadget

We often frame new automation technology as a grave and immediate threat to the jobs and livelihoods of the humans whose tasks the machines take over. Tell that to the custodians at Sea-Tac airport who no longer have to spend their nights scrubbing floors, or sales associates at your local supermarket who will no longer have to schlep carts full of products throughout the store thanks to BrainCorps' smart scrubbers and tugs. BrainCorp is an AI software developer based in San Diego, California. Founded in 2009, the company spent half a decade developing its computer vision and automation technology before pivoting into the floor care industry. This service sector "hadn't seen a lot of automation yet or at least successful automation of the products," John Black, Brain Corp's Senior Vice President of New Product Development, told Engadget.


Using Machine Learning To Improve Restaurant Management

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Machine learning takes artificial intelligence (AI) to the next level by allowing a system to learn without prior programming. Now, restaurants are starting to benefit from this technology. Simon Bocca, COO at Fourth, shared how his company is using machine learning. Fourth recently announced its end-to-end restaurant and hospitality platform and services. The company provides an all-in-one solution for purchase-to-pay, inventory and workforce management with advanced demand forecasting, predictive analytics and collaboration tools.