ZDNet


Far from deja vu, Google yet again repeating history

ZDNet

In reviewing the Google Pixel XL last year, I found the device to be technically the best Android device on the market at the time, but to take advantage of the Google Assistant -- the Pixel's supposed selling point -- users needed to be comfortable with handing over a ton of personal data to Google. A year on, and the Google Assistant has found its way onto other Android devices and even iOS, and with the likes of Samsung and Sony doing much better in pushing out Android updates, another of the Pixel's selling points is blunted. Despite a concerted marketing push, Pixels are still as rare as hen's teeth in the real world, and Google's response is to do more of the same. Upon selling Motorola Mobility to Lenovo in 2014, then-CEO Larry Page wrote: "The smartphone market is super competitive, and to thrive it helps to be all-in when it comes to making mobile devices."


Government blunders stall rollout of NDIS virtual assistant: Report

ZDNet

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) has put its virtual assistant rollout on hold, with the ABC reporting those working on the project are concerned issue-plagued technology-based initiatives from the government have "taken their toll" on Australia's appetite for risk. NDIA first announced the development of its virtual assistant Nadia in February, touted as providing National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants with a better service. The NDIS contact centre fields about 6,000 calls a week from a client base of 32,000 clients, costing AU$25 every call, with the ABC saying the number of NDIS participants will grow to 460,000 over the next three years. The Centrelink robo-debt debacle has plagued the agency since the summer break, with its data-matching system automatically comparing the income people declared to the Australian Taxation Office against income declared to Centrelink.


Tech industry must secure against 'unintended consequences': Elop

ZDNet

The path to disruption is paved by unintended consequences, Telstra group executive of Technology, Innovation and Strategy Stephen Elop has said, with the tech industry needing to secure machine-learning and artificial intelligence (AI) applications against unconscious biases and breaches of security and trust. According to Elop -- who served as CEO of Nokia before being added to the Telstra team last year after the telco created the new role of innovation head to lead its CTO, chief scientist, software group, and corporate strategy -- while AI machines learn from the data input into their systems, this data comes tainted by humans with unconscious biases. "At the heart of artificial intelligence is big data, and the insights that can be gleaned from advanced data analytics ... how we use data, and the data we select to train our machines can have a profound outcome on our analytics," Elop said. Most importantly, Elop said, is when developers fail to secure systems against the unintended consequence of breach of trust.


Jailbreaking your connected coffee machine: The idiocy of things

ZDNet

Yes, that data is valuable to the device manufacturer, too, which runs cloud services in order to make that product work. But, increasingly, I am starting to see smart devices that not only rely on connectivity for basic functionality but use networking and sensors in order to prevent end-users from actually getting the most out of their devices. Well, the consumable supplies business for printers is huge. Newer-generation Keurig machines actually scan and validate the supplies using digital rights management (DRM) before brewing.


Baidu announces $1.5B autonomous driving fund

ZDNet

Called the Apollo Fund, named after its open-source autonomous driving platform, Baidu plans to invest the fund in 100 autonomous driving projects in the next three years, the company announced. Baidu also released the latest version of its autonomous driving platform, Apollo 1.5, with five new core capabilities: Its new obstacle perception capability enables vehicles to identify obstacles both during the day and at night. Several technology companies around the globe are competing with Baidu to gain a foothold in the automotive industry as autonomous driving technology advances. Alphabet-owned Waymo recently revealed that it's working with Intel to power its autonomous driving platform.


Google Cloud Dataprep now available in public beta

ZDNet

Google announced Thursday that it's making Google Cloud Dataprep, a serverless data preparation tool, available in public beta. Dataprep helps to quickly ready data for immediate analysis or for training machine learning models. With machine learning, it also suggests different ways of cleaning the data, which should help make data preparation faster and less prone to error. Last year, Amazon rolled out its own serverless data preparation tool called AWS Glue.


Here's why the $510 million robotics sensors market isn't growing faster

ZDNet

An October 2017 report from BCC Research, Sensors for Robotics: Technologies & Global Markets, predicts that the global market for robotics sensors will grow to $510 million in 2017. Given strong growth in robotics markets, which could hit $135 billion by 2019, corresponding growth in the market for robotics sensors was predictable. BCC Research projects the global market for robotics sensors will grow to $840 million by 2022, a CAGR of 10.5 percent. That figure perhaps seems modest given that some analysts predict that growth in the global robotics market could hit a CAGR of 17 percent for the period between 2015 and 2019.


Treat drones as 'flying mobile phones': Telstra CTO

ZDNet

Telstra CTO Håkan Eriksson has come up with a resolution to all concerns raised over the regulation and control of drones: To treat them as flying mobile phones, and to allow Telstra to provide the necessary connectivity in a "drone-control-as-a-service" offering. Concerns about drones getting in the way of aircraft would also be addressed via the use of mobile networks, Eriksson told ZDNet, because coverage only extends to around 150m above ground level. While drones could run off existing 4G and future 5G mobile spectrum, Eriksson told ZDNet it would also be possible to allocate special spectrum where drones need priority in certain cases, or to ensure the network doesn't get overloaded. Eriksson said Telstra is also currently working on three augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) projects: Project Halo, which uses AR to show maintenance staff, for example, a red line to where exactly a faulty rack is located within a datacentre; Project Pokemon, which uses AR to show customers how to install their new Telstra TV or router at home; and Project Smart Miner, which uses VR headsets to provide a safer training environment for mining without needing to send novices underground.


McDonald's kicks off network transformation with Telstra

ZDNet

Telstra said the "umbrella" fibre network will be used by McDonald's to enhance its operations and provide customers with a connected brand experience, as well as increasing cost and time efficiencies for licensees. TIPT is a fully managed cloud service providing medium and large enterprises with a unified communication solution supporting voice, video, messaging, mobility, and collaboration; Telstra said it could be used by McDonald's for such applications as enabling video conferencing and collaboration between head office and individual stores. "Our new network will provide more speed and reliability, creating better connectivity experiences for our customers, and enhance key restaurant operations for our back office." Last month, John Boyd, CIO of Australian food chain Mad Mex, told ZDNet that his company's digital transformation could see it use Microsoft Azure machine-learning capabilities in future.


NBN launches Tech Lab to collect data and resolve connection issues

ZDNet

Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN) company has announced its new Tech Lab, which will utilise big data, graph technology, and machine-learning capabilities to help solve and map end-user connectivity issues. "While for the majority, the installation experience is positive, when faults do occur, NBN's Tech Lab will help the team determine whether a fault can be dealt with remotely and immediately, or whether a field technician needs to visit an end-user home to resolve the fault," NBN explained on Thursday morning. McInerney said NBN expects to see "significant improvements" in customer experience by simplifying and speeding up the fault detection and resolution process. NBN has expressed an increased focus on end-user experience of late, earlier this week it announced trials of a new diagnostic tool aimed at remotely finding out whether a premises has copper wiring faults.