ZDNet


Microsoft looks to bots to make employees more productive

ZDNet

Microsoft is working on multiple chat bots it's counting on to make employees more productive. The company announced two years ago its Calendar.help The company also is working on another conversational bot, named "SwitchBot," that's designed to improve workers' focus. Information about SwitchBot was made public in the form of a research paper published on April 21 for the 2018 ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. SwitchBot is a Skype bot that aims to help workers detach and then reengage at the start and end of their workdays.


Why Amazon's home robots aren't a stretch: All the infrastructure, ecosystem via AWS is in place

ZDNet

From connected light bulbs, to plant sensors, to smart locks, and beyond, smart home tech is growing and evolving rapidly. Here you'll find the latest product reviews, news, and how-tos to help you connect your surroundings to the internet in the smartest way possible. Amazon is reportedly plotting to launch a series of home robots and although it's unclear what these domestic helpers would do the one certainty is that the company already has the software stack in place to make the project a success. Bloomberg is reporting that Amazon's Lab126, which incubates new products and services, is working on a domestic robot codenamed Vesta. The Vesta robot effort is different than the Amazon robotics business formed via the 2012 acquisition of Kiva Systems.


Global automation readiness. Who's prepared, who's in trouble?

ZDNet

In early 2017, President Obama's top economic and science advisors wrote a report entitled, "Artificial Intelligence, Automation, and the Economy." The report is a cleared-eyed collation of current data and predictions pertaining to the accelerating pace of adoption of automation and AI technologies starting from around 2010. The full report is worth a look, but the top line findings are probably familiar. The analysts found that the day when robots will replace all workers is still remote, and any timeline for that happening is speculative at best. But the transition underway in the global economy due to automation technologies is undeniable and unstoppable.


South Korea to invest over $620 million in nanotech R&D

ZDNet

South Korea will invest 669.3 billion won ($626 million) into research and development (R&D) of nanotechnology, the government has announced. Investment will focus on areas with the largest commercial impact, the Ministry of Science and ICT said, such as nanomaterials that can be used for artificial intelligence, big data, and the Internet of Things (IoT). There will also be support for 3D nanoelectronic devices, sensors for IoT, biomechanics, fibres, and precursors, the ministry said. It marks a slight rise from last year's investment of 648.3 billion won by 11 government-backed research institutes in the same areas. As of 2017, a total of 1133 patents in nanotechnology were registered in the US, the ministry said, and the long-term goal is to register around 5,000 by 2025.


No large tax bill sees IBM Australia pocket AU$40m 2017 profit

ZDNet

IBM Australia has made its financial results for 2017 available, reporting to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission it raked in AU$40 million in after-tax profit, more than double its 2016 AU$16.8 million lull. Revenue for the 12 months to December 2017 was reported as AU$2.8 billion, a decrease from 2016's AU$3.2 billion. Receipts from customers totalled AU$2.6 billion, while AU$2.5 billion was paid out to suppliers and employees. During the 12-month period, the local arm of IBM paid AU$8.4 million in tax, almost half of the AU$13.9 IBM considers its principal continuing activities in Australia to be the provision of advanced information services, products, and technologies, including the marketing of imported and locally produced information processing equipment, software, and supplies.


The greatest resistance to Robotic Process Automation comes from IT departments

ZDNet

Lately, I've been hearing some people refer to the incoming wave of labor-replacing, process-enhancing automation as a "digital workforce," which suggests some type of side-by-side pairing with the human workforce, just as contingent workforce gets paired with full-time workforce. Whether you or not you like these new semantics, the constellation of technologies that are birthing the digital workforce are a force to be harnessed, and if applied with forethought and entrepreneurial spirit, may open up new horizons for companies and their carbon-and-water-based human employees. Such is the perspective taken by Justin Watson, David Wright and Marina Gordeeva, all with Deloitte UK, and authors of a recent report based on a survey of 400 executives and finds a majority, 53 percent, have initiated efforts to embed Robotic Process Automation (RPA) into their enterprises. This is expected to increase to 72 percent within the next two years. However, there is a surprising source of resistance to RPA initiatives.


Amazon: The world's most innovative tech company

ZDNet

Why Amazon's Alexa Skill Blueprints are a master stroke Amazon has opened up Alexa to the masses with Alexa Skill Blueprints and integrated the digital assistant even more with families. Here's why these Alexa code-free templates make good business sense. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' 2018 shareholder letter has a few key disclosures as well as some management tips to ponder. Enterprises learning to love cloud lock-in too: Is it different this time? Don't look now but more enterprises are going "all-in" with select cloud providers.


LG G7 ThinQ will have dedicated Google Assistant button

ZDNet

LG's upcoming G7 ThinQ smartphone will feature a dedicated hardware button to launch Google Assistant, according to our sister site CNET. The LG G7 ThinQ's Google Assistant button will be found on the left of the device. The power button will be on the right. LG is set to launch the G7 ThinQ at a New York launch event on May 2. Google Assistant is a voice-powered personal assistant that accesses info like calendar dates, news, weather, control IoT products, and much more. The G7 ThinQ will be the first flagship to have Google Assistant loaded by default to a dedicated hardware button.


Robot builds an Ikea chair. Everyone goes nuts.

ZDNet

Engineers at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore have built a two-arm robot that successfully put together a popular chair from Swedish flat-pack king IKEA. The story is being picked up pretty widely, an indication of just how universally consternating "assembly required" furniture is for city dwellers on a budget. The machine used dexterous grippers, a 3D camera, and its force sensors to insert the little wooden dowels and fit the chair's frame together in about 20 minutes. The dexterity and cooperation between the arms is impressive, but the real coup is that the NTU researchers cobbled their machine together using commercially available robotics and off-the-shelf parts. Typically, research robots designed for special tasks will be fitted with custom end effectors that have been 3D printed to suit a researchers' needs.


iPhone terminator: Apple's Daisy teardown robot can rip your phone apart in 18 secs

ZDNet

Video: Big Green Apple: Tech giant embraces clean energy (almost) everywhere. Two years after unveiling Liam, the robotic iPhone disassembler, Apple has developed a smaller, smarter and more flexible successor called Daisy. Daisy can disassemble 200 iPhones per hour or around one every 18 seconds, which is six seconds slower than Liam's teardown time.