TechCrunch has learned that Amazon has acquired Body Labs, a company with a stated aim of creating true-to-life 3D body models to support various b2b software applications -- such as virtually trying on clothes or photorealistic avatars for gaming. Being able to offer custom fit could give Amazon's private label fashion brands an edge, even as improving sizing predictions generally for Amazon shoppers could help drive clothes shopping across its platform and help shrink returns from clothes that don't fit. Or -- for more practical, ecommerce-related purposes -- to enable users of its Echo Show to virtually show off a fashion item they're thinking of buying by having computer vision software digitally animating it on a photorealistic body model. In some of its video demos Body Labs can be seen using person-sized scanners to generate highly accurate body models -- a technology that clearly does not scale for the kind of massive consumer purposes Amazon would be after.
If Alphabet, Amazon and Facebook (along with Berkshire Hathaway) paid shareholder dividends at the 2.37% average yield of other S&P 500 companies that do so, it would shake out another $32.2 billion for investors, according to Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S&P Dow Jones Indices. How to choose a smart speaker More: Here's one way Google envisions search changing for you But don't expect these tech companies to pay a dividend anytime soon. "During the 1990s, tech didn't typically pay dividends and they drove the stock market back then," said Kim Forrest, senior equity analyst at Fort Pitt Capital. The S&P tech sector had a dividend yield of 1.36% during the third quarter, the lowest of the 11 sectors and well below the overall S&P 500 of 1.97%, according to Silverblatt.
Amazon has been on quite an expansion push with its smart home speaker line recently, but now it's clear that they're increasing more than just the number of Echo devices on the market. The company announced today that Echo and Alexa are now available in India by invitation only, and they'll expand to Japan later this year. According to Tom Taylor, the SVP of Amazon Alexa, the company will also open the Alexa Skills Kit and Alexa Voice Service in order to allow developers to create customized software for Indian and Japanese customers. This expansion marks the first foray into Asia for the Echo, a necessary step for Amazon to compete in the smart home speaker market.
But when Sonos started working on integrating Alexa into its multi-room wireless music system a year and a half ago, though, that setup posed a problem. Alongside the new speaker, Sonos also announced today that by 2018 it will support both Google Assistant and AirPlay 2, allowing Sonos users to query Google, use Siri to control their speakers, and to stream tracks from their iPhones. Sonos could have built an Alexa skill to let you control volume, change songs, and hear everything through your Sonos speakers. And so while Sonos improved its speakers, Amazon worked on making Alexa an even better DJ.
If you hadn't noticed, Amazon introduced a lot of devices at its Alexa-themed event -- so many that keeping tabs on them all could be a challenge in itself. Thankfully, you don't have to sweat it. We've rounded up all the new Alexa-powered hardware in one place, ranging from the next generation of the standard Echo speaker to the Fire TV and the cute-as-a-button Echo Spot. If you've been thinking of snagging Amazon gear going into the holidays, you'll hopefully have a better sense of what's on offer.
My bleak forecast does not stem from the notion behind the common fintech (financial technology) and insurtech (insurance technology) industry pitch that they will change their respective industries with innovation and better customer experiences, although I firmly believe that some of the startups will cause significant pain to the incumbents and will indeed change their respective industries. These organizations will use their customers and employees to sell banking and insurance solutions, and the big financial institutions will become at best dumb pipes. What is terrifying to imagine is a situation in which tech giants or other big companies provide financial service solutions at or below production costs. The new competitors would not need to earn money and could even afford to lose money in offering financial solutions if these features entice customers and new potential clients to use the companies' core offerings.
Earlier this year, Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL) (NASDAQ:GOOG), a pioneer in the AI revolution, revealed that it would launch Google Brain Toronto, the second such research facility in the Great White North. Amazon has revealed plans to build a new AI research hub in Barcelona, Spain, which will be located in the city's 22@ start-up district, and plans to hire more than 100 scientists and software engineers to staff the facility over time. Earlier this year the company expanded its research and development center in Cambridge, England, by adding a 60,000-square-foot facility to house over 400 "machine learning scientists, knowledge engineers, data scientists, mathematical modelers, speech scientists, and software engineers" according to a press release. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), and Amazon.
For retailers, the robot apocalypse isn't a science-fiction movie. As digital giants swallow a growing share of shoppers' spending, thousands of stores have closed and tens of thousands of workers have lost their jobs. But, Mr. Bessen found, ATMs made it much cheaper to operate a branch so banks opened more: Total branches rose 43% over that time. As the number of ATMs rose, so did the number of bank branches, so the ranks of tellers expanded.
The centre will be located in Barcelona's start-up district - 22@ - in the same building as the Amazon Seller Support Hub which, from early 2018, will offer assistance to small and medium companies from Southern Europe that sell on Amazon Marketplace. Forecasting customer demand, translating product information and automatic speech recognition are just some examples of how Machine Learning is leading to lower prices, greater selection and better customer experiences at Amazon. Alongside these investments, the company announced in March that it will create 500 jobs by 2019 with the opening of its Seller Support Hub in Barcelona, where a multilingual team will offer assistance to small businesses selling on Amazon Marketplace across France, Italy and Spain. Customer reviews, 1-Click shopping, personalized recommendations, Prime, Fulfilment by Amazon, AWS, Kindle Direct Publishing, Kindle, Fire tablets, Fire TV, Amazon Echo, and Alexa are some of the products and services pioneered by Amazon.
Alexa customers will be able to access Cortana's unique work-related features like booking meetings, accessing work calendars, and reading work emails. Bezos raised the idea with Nadella in May 2016 at Microsoft's annual CEO summit in Seattle, then initiating it further by forwarding Nadella a draft of a news release describing how Alexa and Cortana could work together Amazon and Microsoft have been coordinating behind the scenes to make their voice assistants communicate for over a year. Bezos raised the idea with Nadella in May 2016 at Microsoft's annual CEO summit in Seattle, then initiating it further by forwarding Nadella a draft of a news release describing how Alexa and Cortana could work together. Bezos raised the idea with Nadella in May 2016 at Microsoft's annual CEO summit in Seattle, then initiating it further by forwarding Nadella a draft of a news release describing how Alexa and Cortana would work together.