In the United States, more than half of all households are expected to have a digital assistant or smart speaker like Google Home or Amazon Echo by 2022, and many people already today use these devices for shopping. In the Nordic region, however, relatively few consumers have purchased or plan to purchase an AI-based digital assistant. Those Nordic residents who do have one primarily use assistants to play music, do research and manage to-do lists. Yet when it comes to online shopping, the purchasing journey is to a high degree driven by convenience. In the next few years, AI solutions that save customers time and energy are expected to become increasingly common.
To date, most retailers who adopted artificial intelligence (AI) have done so purely to boost profits. However, now we are seeing a whole new driver for uptake, as there's a growing realisation that it can be used to help retailers become more sustainable as well. The good news is that these two drivers are not as separate as they might first appear: AI can make decisions that achieve sustainability and profits at the same time. Initiatives designed to drive profit and sustainability have always been linked. In fact, PwC research revealed that using AI to make decisions about environment-related areas, such as agriculture, water, energy and transport could add more than $5 trillion to the global economy over the next decade.
This smart speaker deal is too good to pass up. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. By now, Amazon lovers the world over know that life with a trusty, voice-controlled, Alexa-enabled smart speaker is just easier: These handy little devices help to keep households organized, informed and entertained. If you've been on the fence about snagging one for your own home or waiting for a price drop to add another to your collection, get thee to your virtual Amazon cart for a two-for-one special on the Echo Dot 3rd generation that's sure to knock your socks off. As part of the retailer's early Prime Day 2020 deals (shop our favorites here), Prime members (sign up for a free 30-day trial now, then pay $12.99 per month) can add two Amazon Echo Dot speakers, normally $49.99 and on sale for $39.99, to their cart and enter coupon code DOTPRIME2PK at checkout to get both speakers for just $39.98.
Smart speakers with artificial intelligence technology are increasingly being employed to help older people or those with disabilities in their daily lives, with their voice-activated functionalities proving especially convenient for those with mobility issues or wanting to connect. The daily routine of Katsunori Endo, a 63-year-old resident of Yamagata Prefecture, includes greeting his AI speaker and asking for the day's weather and news. "It's convenient because it tells me the weather for specific regions," Endo said, adding that it will also tell him what happened on a particular day in history, or alert him to seasonal dates. Developed by e-commerce giant Amazon.com Inc., Alexa is a smart speaker capable of performing a plethora of tasks in response to voice commands, including providing real-time information and controlling several other smart devices as a home automation system.
Amazon announced that it's annual Prime Day shopping event would be on October 13 and 14 this year, but we're already starting to see Prime-exclusive deals available. One of them knocks the 3rd-generation Echo Dot to its lowest price ever -- only $20 -- when you buy two of them and use the code DOTPRIME2PK at checkout. That means you'll spend a total of $40 for two Echo Dots, which is $10 less than the normal price and $2 less than their 2019 Black Friday sale price. Remember -- this is an early Prime Day deal, so you must be an Amazon Prime member to get the savings. The company continues to offer 30-day free trials to new Prime subscribers, so you can sign up and take advantage of this deal as well as be all set for Prime Day when it rolls around in about two weeks. It's also worth calling out that the Echo Dots in this deal are the previous models.
It was reported that Venture Capital investments into AI related startups made a significant increase in 2018, jumping by 72% compared to 2017, with 466 startups funded from 533 in 2017. PWC moneytree report stated that that seed-stage deal activity in the US among AI-related companies rose to 28% in the fourth-quarter of 2018, compared to 24% in the three months prior, while expansion-stage deal activity jumped to 32%, from 23%. There will be an increasing international rivalry over the global leadership of AI. President Putin of Russia was quoted as saying that "the nation that leads in AI will be the ruler of the world". Billionaire Mark Cuban was reported in CNBC as stating that "the world's first trillionaire would be an AI entrepreneur".
The Kroger Co. plans to roll out Everseen's Visual AI technology chainwide to detect and reduce customer errors at self-checkout stations. Ireland-based Everseen said its artificial intelligence and machine learning platform began deployment in Kroger stores in March and is slated to be installed at 2,500 stores in the coming months. The Visual AI platform watches video in real time to recognize regular processes and "intelligently" step in whenever something is amiss, Evergreen explained. For Kroger shoppers, the technology flags errors occasionally experienced at self-checkout and enables customers to self-correct or, if they're unable to rectify the problem, an associate is summoned to help. For example, if a customer scanning groceries at the self-checkout kiosk has an item that doesn't scan properly, Evergreen's solution identifies the non-scan incident and alerts a store associate via a mobile device to intervene and rescan the item.
Sam's Club is giving its members a new way to see the doctor – virtually. The Walmart-owned warehouse club chain announced a partnership with Seattle-based virtual primary care provider 98point6 Tuesday to provide members with an exclusive introductory fee and quarterly subscription. Sam's Club members with either a Club or Plus membership level can sign up for a quarterly subscription to 98point6's telehealth virtual clinic via a text-based app for $20 per participant for the first three months, $10 less than 98point6's regular sign-up fee of $30. With the subscription, unlimited virtual visits are $1 each with "access to U.S. board-certified doctors 24 hours a day and seven days a week," the retailer said in a news release. Walmart raises:Walmart increasing pay for approximately 165,000 hourly workers across U.S. stores, introducing new roles The quarterly subscription costs increase to $33.50 every three months per participant after the first three months.
Walmart is starting to deliver at-home COVID-19 tests by drone. A trial got underway in North Las Vegas today and the deliveries will expand to Cheektowaga, New York early next month. It's delivering the kits to qualifying patients who live within a mile of certain Walmart Supercenters in both locales. Patients will self-administer a nasal swab, which they'll send to Quest Diagnostics for testing. Walmart says there's no kit or delivery cost for those who opt to receive a test by drone, and there's a prepaid shipping label to return it.