Salesforce today rolled out the next generation of Service Cloud, including enhancements to Cloud Voice and Einstein Bots. The company says that the features and products are intended to address the new reality brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. Over the past year, service agents moved quickly to work from home but were forced to rely on legacy technology that wasn't designed to manage distributed workforces. Today, parts of the world are beginning to reopen, but these reopenings are raising questions around updated policies, protocols, and safety measures. This adds a new level of challenge for agents, who are already contending with increased workloads.
While cloud computing continues to gain favor, only a limited number of companies have embraced machine learning based in the cloud. Hive wants to change this by allowing enterprises to access hosted machine learning models via APIs. Hive has had particular success in the area of content moderation, thanks to its deep learning models that help companies interpret unstructured data, like images, videos, and audio. But it's also expanding into areas like advertising and sponsorship measurement as it seeks to find other areas that would benefit from intelligent automation. In an interview with VentureBeat, Hive CEO Kevin Guo said the company kept relatively quiet as it sought to prove its models work.
Shelf-scanning robot Tally will be donning a new apron soon. Simbe, the company that makes the robot, announced its first deployment with Save Mart, the largest family owned grocery chain in California, which acquired 132 Albertsons stores in 2006 has continued growing. Tally robots will be rolling out to 7 stores across all three Save Mart banners in the Bay Area to bring greater visibility to inventory, streamline operations for store teams and improve the customer experience. This is an important milestone for a sector that's been fixated on wider adoption and sees a real opportunity in the shadow of COVID-19, despite notable setbacks and some in the industry questioning the value of retail robotics late last year. In November 2020, Walmart killed a large contract with Simbe competitor Bossa Nova, which also makes a robot for inventory auditing and data-driven inventory insights.
This is why the European Commission has proposed a set of actions to boost excellence in AI, and rules to ensure that the technology is trustworthy. The Regulation on a European Approach for Artificial Intelligence and the update of the Coordinated Plan on AI will guarantee the safety and fundamental rights of people and businesses, while strengthening investment and innovation across EU countries. Once the AI system is on the market, authorities are in charge of the market surveillance, users ensure human oversight and monitoring, while providers have a post-market monitoring system in place. Providers and users will also report serious incidents and malfunctioning. In 2018, the Commission and EU Member States took the first step by joining forces through a Coordinated Plan on AI that helped lay the ground for national strategies and policy developments.
Apple sold 2.4 million smart speakers in the U.S. market during first quarter of 2021, according to the market research firm Omdia, beating Google's sales by 100,000 units during the same period. The firm estimates the new Apple HomePod mini accounted for 91 percent of Apple's U.S. smart speaker sales during that time. Apple's share of smart speaker shipments in the U.S. market reached 17.8 percent during the first quarter, a 9 percent increase year over year. But Omdia estimates there were 75 million smart speakers based on Google Assistant on the market at the end of 2020, compared to just 10 million based on Apple's Siri. And Amazon dominates both of those competitors, with a current installed base of 141 million smart speakers using its Alexa voice assistant.
Fujifilm Holdings Corp. said on Wednesday it started a new late-stage trial in Japan of its Avigan drug for COVID-19, reviving hopes for a home-grown treatment for the virus. Domestic approval for the antiviral drug to treat the coronavirus was dealt a setback in December after a health ministry panel said that trial data was inconclusive. Fujifilm has over the years pivoted from its traditional camera and office solutions businesses to health care. The new double-blind, placebo-controlled study is targeting patients aged 50 and older, as well as those at risk of developing serious conditions, Fujifilm said in a release. Avigan, known generically as favipiravir, has been studied in dozens of trials worldwide, and it has been approved as a COVID-19 treatment in Russia, India and Indonesia.
The UneeQ, based in the United States and New Zealand, published a video of its artificial intelligence project Digital Einstein that has the father of relativity theory chat with a fictional version of his human Sofia. Users of UneeQ technology will be able to chat with the iconic Nobel Prize in Physics, who will answer their questions. The idea of this long-term project is to teach and accompany people who feel lonely, especially seeing the effects of quarantines around the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The company said in a statement that "Digital Einstein, among other digital humans, can communicate with people in a more natural way: using conversation, human expressions and emotional responses to provide the best daily interactions that we hope will make a difference in people's lives ".
The Covid-19 pandemic did more than just pause the world. It took away a fundamental aspect of being human -- touch. No more greeting familiar faces at work, no everyday commute rituals, no get-togethers, and worse, it kept, and is keeping, us from holding our loved ones, our family. Fatefully, in this Covid-induced skin hungry world, the familiarity of contact is kept alive by digital technology. Even as Covid-19 threatens to put modern lifestyle on the fringes and individual cocoons, we're in times where touch and connectedness is seeing new meaning and function.
Editor's note: Today's guest post comes from AI for healthcare platform Lumiata. Here's the story of how they use Google Cloud to power their platform--performing data prepping, model building, and deployment to tackle inherent challenges in healthcare organizations. If ever there was a year for healthcare innovation--2020 was it. At Lumiata, we've been on a mission to deliver smarter, more cost-effective healthcare since 2013, but the COVID-19 pandemic added new urgency to our vision of making artificial intelligence (AI) easy and accessible. Using AI in healthcare went from a nice-to-have to a must-have for healthcare organizations.