Cortana and Alexa just went from being rivals to being besties. Microsoft and Amazon's respective digital assistants are teaming up to work together later this year, the companies surprisingly announced today. That means you'll be able to tap into Alexa's smarts via Cortana on Windows 10 PCs and (further down the line) Microsoft's mobile Cortana apps, or access Cortana via Amazon's Echo devices and Alexa-enabled phones like the HTC U11 and Huawei Mate 9. You'll need to specifically summon the assist, however, by saying "Cortana, open Alexa" or "Alexa, open Cortana." The timing might seem weird with Cortana-powered devices like the Harmon Kardon Invoke speaker launching this fall. But with both digital assistants owning a firm niche--PCs and Office software for Microsoft, smart speakers for Amazon--the collaboration helps them extend their reach without stepping on each other's toes too much.
Amazon is changing the way products and services are delivered to customers, and so will autonomous vehicles, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang believes. Last year, the autonomous truck delivered 51,744 beer cans from Denver to a facility in Colorado Springs. Google, Nvidia and Intel have put autonomous vehicles on streets, and tech companies like Apple are also chasing self-driving cars. During the quarter, Nvidia announced a deal with Paccar to develop autonomous trucks.
The machine-learning capabilities will be brought into ServiceNow's cloud services for security, customer service, and HR. The Intelligent Automation Engine's algorithms are based on technology the company acquired through its purchase of DxContinuum in January. ServiceNow's new machine-learning capabilities center around the following areas: The predictive intelligence capability will be brought into the company's IT Service Managment offering first, and be incorporated into the fourth-quarter release of the Now Platform, code-named Kingston. In addition to DxContinuum, ServiceNow has acquired other companies over the past year, including IT security firm BrightPoint Security as well as cloud-management company ITapp.
Vivint Sky and Wink Hub owners who want to use voice commands to control their lighting, thermostats, and other subsystems will soon no longer be limited to deploying Amazon Echos--both companies announced today that their systems will soon be compatible with Google Assistant, too. Both companies already work with Amazon's voice assistant, Alexa, but neither wants to be limited to a single platform. "Obviously there's more than one option for homeowners who want to have voice services in the house," said Vivint Smart Home Chief Technology Office Jeremy Warren. "We want to make sure we're providing a great user experience for our customers regardless of which platform they adopt." Google announced 11 other new partnerships as well, ranging from Logitech Harmony, to August smart locks, to the Anova sous-vide cooker.
Intel has shifted its self-driving car efforts into high gear with a $15.3 billion deal to acquire computer vision and collision-avoidance company MobileEye. Mobileye fills that gap, and now the challenge will be to combine Mobileye's technologies with Intel's current product offerings. Intel has already acquired a handful of companies developing self-driving car technologies and last year said it would invest US$250 million over the next two years to develop autonomous cars. The combined Intel-Mobileye organization will support both companies' existing production programs and build on relationships with automotive manufacturers, suppliers and semiconductor partners to advanced driving assist, highly autonomous and fully autonomous driving technology, Intel said.
For cord cutters who want nothing but the best, Nvidia's $200 Shield TV console has always been the box of choice for streaming videos and even games. At CES 2017, the company announced a new-and-improved version that adds in HDR support, refines gaming and entertainment options, and even transforms the Android TV device into a voice-controlled rival of the Amazon Echo. We've already covered all the details revealed during Nvidia's CES 2017 press conference, but I just spent over an hour at Nvidia's suite to learn more about the new Shield TV's every nook and cranny. Here are some initial impressions, and a look at some of the more nitty-gritty improvements that weren't mentioned during the keynote. Before we even get into flashy features like smart-home controls and Google Assistant, the second-gen Shield TV packs worthwhile quality-of-life improvements over its predecessor.
ARM servers are devalued partly because many applications don't work with the chips. But ARM has acquired Allinea Software with the hope of partially resolving the compatibility issue. Allinea provides software development, debugging, and porting tools, which should make it easier for people to write applications for ARM-based servers and supercomputers. The acquisition will "provide a channel to thousands of developers using supercomputers and give us better first-hand knowledge of the issues being addressed as software is ported to new ARM-based systems," Javier Orensanz, general manager of the development solutions group at ARM, said in a blog entry. The development tools will also be used for ARM chips in deep-learning systems, which require large-scale server deployments for analytics.
Logitech says it will release a new Alexa skill this week that renders its Harmony Hub-based universal remote controls (e.g., the Harmony Elite or the Harmony Companion) compatible with Amazon's Alexa digital assistant. In addition to TVs, set-top boxes, and A/V receivers, Logitech's Hub can also control many smart-home devices, such as smart light bulbs, motorized window shades, and even smart entry locks. When I reviewed the Harmony Elite remote control, I found this process to be extremely easy. I'd really like to have the lights dim along with the existing Harmony Activities I call "Watch TV" (which turns on my TV, A/V receiver, and DirecTV set-top box) and "Watch a movie" (which turns on the TV, A/V receiver, and Roku box).
Tesla Motors' cars will come fitted with full self-driving hardware, as the company jousts with tech rivals like Google and car makers like Ford who are making a dash for the autonomous car market. The company has since then upgraded the Autopilot technology, adding radar as a primary control sensor. The radar was added to all Tesla vehicles in October 2014 as part of the Autopilot hardware suite, but was only meant to be a supplementary sensor to the primary camera and image processing system, Tesla said. The company said that as of Wednesday all cars, including Model 3, produced in its factory will have the hardware needed for full self-driving capability "at a safety level substantially greater than that of a human driver."