If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. However, our picks and opinions are independent from USA TODAY's newsroom and any business incentives. There are gifts that are practical, gifts that are functional, and then there are gifts that are just… wowsers, that's beautiful. If you're looking to impress someone with a show-stopping present, this list of gadgets has been imbued with great design, and they're all really useful to boot. Good news: Beautiful does not always mean budget-breaking (though there are a few splurge-worthy items here too).
People used to dream about robot secretaries. Futurists imagined a world where computers obeyed our every command. When the Amazon Echo hit the market, that dream became a reality: Alexa was obedient, personable and all-knowing. She could carry out a myriad of basic tasks, with a personality as professional and unflappable as a human assistant. This year, Echo is more popular than ever, and despite competition from Google, Amazon still dominates 75 percent of the virtual assistant market.
More than 20 announcements flowed at AWS re:Invent today, including updates on machine learning, databases and the Internet of Things (IoT) – not to mention a couple of big-name customer wins. The theme for Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy was around builders. Unlike the previous year's keynote, where it was about superpowers, this presentation had a slightly more mundane – and musical – approach. Technology builders are like musicians, Jassy explained. Some guitarists may play acoustic a lot of the time, but require some parts be played electric.
ZDNet's Sandra Vogel posted a formal review of the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, giving it an outstanding 9/10 rating. I've been spending quality time with this business-ready powerhouse and think that the AI found in the camera is worth discussing in a bit more detail. Huawei's partnership with Leica has resulted in some fantastic cameras and performance that is tough to beat. DxOMark awarded the Mate 10 Pro it second highest overall score, 97, and best still image score, 100. Keep in mind, these scores are not scaled to 100.
The Echo Show is the first of Amazon's Alexa-enabled devices to feature a screen, and to be honest, it's pretty darn cool. While the Show may be the most expensive* of the Echo lineup, ringing in at $229.99, it includes a slew of features and skills you can't get from the other Echo devices, thanks to the 7-inch touchscreen and camera. So why would you want to choose the more expensive Show over the new Echo ($99.99) or the more affordable Dot (on sale for $29.99)? There are several Show-specific skills that are both fun and functional. From watching HD movie trailers to making video calls, these are our picks for the top 10 skills you definitely need to try with your Amazon Echo Show.
It may look like a mild-mannered home security camera, but Amazon's AWS DeepLens is anything but. Announced today at the AWS re:Invent 2017 conference, the $249 (£185/AU$330 converted) DeepLens video camera is designed to help train developers in deep learning programming techniques. April 14, 2018, is the projected date of availability on Amazon.com, Deep learning has become a catch-all term for the AI smarts that dominate today's smart home. It's what fuels Amazon's Alexa-enabled speakers, what makes them able to differentiate among various voices, and what makes facial recognition cameras able to distinguish you from your neighbor.
Far from the stuff of science fiction, artificial intelligence is becoming just another tool for developers to build the next big thing. It's built in to Photoshop to help you knock out backgrounds, Google is using AI to figure out if you have a person peeping on your phone and Microsoft uses the technology to teach you Chinese. As Amazon's Jeff Barr says, "I think it is safe to say, with the number of practical applications for machine learning, including computer vision and deep learning, that we've turned the corner" towards practical applications for AI. To that end, Amazon has announced AWS DeepLens, a new video camera that runs deep learning models right on the device. The DeepLens has a 4 megapixel camera that can capture 1080P video, along with a 2D microphone array.
Amazon Web Services today unveiled DeepLens, a wireless video camera made for the quick deployment of deep learning. The camera will cost $249 and is scheduled to ship for customers in the United States in April 2018. DeepLens comes pre-loaded with AWS Greengrass for local computation and can operate with SageMaker, a new service to simplify the deployment of AI models, as well as popular open source AI services such as TensorFlow from Google and Caffe2 from Facebook, according to an AWS blog. "DeepLens runs the model directly onto the device. The video doesn't have to go anywhere.
When he was 8 years old, Matt Reeves started making 8-millimeter movies inspired by his love for the original "Planet of the Apes." "I'd have my friends put on gorilla masks and run around shooting these little sci-fi films," he recalls. "As a kid, I was captivated by these images of horses with apes on them." Decades later, Reeves, perched on a sofa in his tidy Hollywood office, has taken his fascination with primate cinema to a whole new level as the auteur behind the 2014 performance-capture blockbuster "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" and this summer's "War for the Planet of the Apes." Taking the reins from "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" director Rupert Wyatt, Reeves, lauded for his low-budget horror hit "Cloverfield," initially harbored reservations about helming Twentieth Century Fox's multimillion-dollar franchise.
Let's face it: The AI hype train isn't going away and soon all our devices will be run by artificial intelligence. While Apple's answer to the AI takeover is to just call its new A11 processor "Bionic", Huawei has taken a more concrete approach. The company embedded a neural processing unit (NPU) on its Kirin 970 chip, which it claims can run AI tasks faster and with less power than others. The newly launched Mate 10 Pro is the first phone to use the Kirin 970, and it's meant to demonstrate the wonders of deeply embedded AI. So far though, it's a capable, well-designed phone that has yet to fully explore what a dedicated NPU can do.