Cortana and Alexa just went from being rivals to being besties. Microsoft and Amazon's respective digital assistants are teaming up to work together later this year, the companies surprisingly announced today. That means you'll be able to tap into Alexa's smarts via Cortana on Windows 10 PCs and (further down the line) Microsoft's mobile Cortana apps, or access Cortana via Amazon's Echo devices and Alexa-enabled phones like the HTC U11 and Huawei Mate 9. You'll need to specifically summon the assist, however, by saying "Cortana, open Alexa" or "Alexa, open Cortana." The timing might seem weird with Cortana-powered devices like the Harmon Kardon Invoke speaker launching this fall. But with both digital assistants owning a firm niche--PCs and Office software for Microsoft, smart speakers for Amazon--the collaboration helps them extend their reach without stepping on each other's toes too much.
Amazon is changing the way products and services are delivered to customers, and so will autonomous vehicles, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang believes. The "Amazon effect," Huang said, will turn transportation on its head. Autonomous technology will play a big role for more point-to-point movement of products and people. Amazon has announced Prime Air, a future-looking program in which unmanned aerial vehicles will deliver products in under 30 minutes. Nvidia is backing the idea of autonomous cabs, and providing hardware and mapping technology for accurate point-to-point navigation.
ServiceNow is bringing enhanced machine-learning capabilities to its Now Platform for business process automation to help customers prevent outages, automatically route service requests, and predict and benchmark IT performance. The AI capabilities will be offered through the upcoming Intelligent Automation Engine, announced at the company's Knowledge conference in Orlando Tuesday. The move strengthens ServiceNow's base in IT management while making further inroads into other areas of the enterprise. The machine-learning capabilities will be brought into ServiceNow's cloud services for security, customer service, and HR. The Intelligent Automation Engine's algorithms are based on technology the company acquired through its purchase of DxContinuum in January.
Vivint Sky and Wink Hub owners who want to use voice commands to control their lighting, thermostats, and other subsystems will soon no longer be limited to deploying Amazon Echos--both companies announced today that their systems will soon be compatible with Google Assistant, too. Both companies already work with Amazon's voice assistant, Alexa, but neither wants to be limited to a single platform. "Obviously there's more than one option for homeowners who want to have voice services in the house," said Vivint Smart Home Chief Technology Office Jeremy Warren. "We want to make sure we're providing a great user experience for our customers regardless of which platform they adopt." Google announced 11 other new partnerships as well, ranging from Logitech Harmony, to August smart locks, to the Anova sous-vide cooker.
Intel has shifted its self-driving car efforts into high gear with a $15.3 billion deal to acquire computer vision and collision-avoidance company MobileEye. With the deal, announced Monday, Intel gets its hands on technology for machine learning, data analysis, localization and mapping for driver assistance systems and autonomous driving. Mobileye develops a full package of software and chips designed for use in autonomous cars. The deal is expected to close in nine months and calls for the combined global autonomous driving organization, which will consist of Mobileye and Intel's Automated Driving Group, to be headquartered in Israel and led by Amnon Shashua, Mobileye's co-Founder, chairman and CTO. The acquisition of MobileEye will be merged with Intel technologies like Xeon processors, FPGAs (field programmable gate arrays), 3D Xpoint memory and 5G modems in autonomous cars said Brian Krzanich, Intel's CEO.
For cord cutters who want nothing but the best, Nvidia's $200 Shield TV console has always been the box of choice for streaming videos and even games. At CES 2017, the company announced a new-and-improved version that adds in HDR support, refines gaming and entertainment options, and even transforms the Android TV device into a voice-controlled rival of the Amazon Echo. We've already covered all the details revealed during Nvidia's CES 2017 press conference, but I just spent over an hour at Nvidia's suite to learn more about the new Shield TV's every nook and cranny. Here are some initial impressions, and a look at some of the more nitty-gritty improvements that weren't mentioned during the keynote. Before we even get into flashy features like smart-home controls and Google Assistant, the second-gen Shield TV packs worthwhile quality-of-life improvements over its predecessor.
ARM servers are devalued partly because many applications don't work with the chips. But ARM has acquired Allinea Software with the hope of partially resolving the compatibility issue. Allinea provides software development, debugging, and porting tools, which should make it easier for people to write applications for ARM-based servers and supercomputers. The acquisition will "provide a channel to thousands of developers using supercomputers and give us better first-hand knowledge of the issues being addressed as software is ported to new ARM-based systems," Javier Orensanz, general manager of the development solutions group at ARM, said in a blog entry. The development tools will also be used for ARM chips in deep-learning systems, which require large-scale server deployments for analytics.
Tesla Motors' cars will come fitted with full self-driving hardware, as the company jousts with tech rivals like Google and car makers like Ford who are making a dash for the autonomous car market. Model S and Model X cars with the inbuilt hardware are already in production and customers can buy one, Tesla said Wednesday. But the features possible with the new hardware will be enabled only later through over-the-air updates after testing over "millions of miles of real-world driving," Tesla added. The company is evidently not taking chances after deaths in accidents involving Tesla cars in China and Florida raised some questions about the readiness of autonomous technology. In the Florida instance, it was confirmed that Tesla's Autopilot technology for driver-assistance was activated, while in the China incident, Tesla said it does not have sufficient data to establish that the technology was engaged.
Securifi announced today that its latest connected-home, mesh-network router, the Almond 3 is now available for pre-order at a 30 discount from its final retail price of 150 (your can pre-order at Amazon). First shown at CES 2016 in January, the company expects to ship the router sometime in June. Wi-Fi router, the Almond 3 is outfitted with a ZigBee radio and will be able to function as a connected-home hub. If your smart lighting, door locks, motion sensors, and other devices operate on some other protocol, Securifi offers a 20 Z-Wave USB dongle; the company expects to offer a Bluetooth dongle sometime in Q4. What's more, the new router can also operate in conjunction with Amazon's Alexa digital voice assistant (you'll also need to have an Amazon Echo, Dot, or Tap).