After Amazon Echo misfire, ways to protect your own privacy

The Japan Times

NEW YORK – Revelations that an Amazon Echo smart speaker inadvertently sent a family's private conversation to an acquaintance highlights some unexpected risks of new voice-enabled technologies. According to Amazon, the fault was an "unlikely" series of inadvertent vocal cues that triggered the speaker, caused it to begin recording and then led it to interpret subsequent conversation as a "send message" request. There is no way to eliminate these sorts of privacy risks short of unplugging entirely. Kill the mic: Most smart speakers have a physical button to disable the microphone, so a private conversation can't be recorded to begin with. You can hit that when you are having sensitive conversations.

7 must-have devices for your smart home office


A home office has the potential to cut out an expensive time-consuming commute, provide a more relaxed working environment, and allow more control over the working conditions that suit you. Your workstation is no longer restricted to a single desk; audio is free to roam the air, meaning conference calls aren't confined to a solitary room; and the use of technology now actually augments collaboration with your colleagues rather than hampers it. Among the things to consider are how best to optimise your environment to reduce clutter and unwanted distractions. Internet of Things (IoT) devices can help you do this. The market is full of IoT devices for the home, some useful, some not so useful, and others really rather pointless.

Qualcomm will gain more than its rivals do, as artificial intelligence grows at the 'edge'


The artificial intelligence market, though still in its infancy, is expected to be the primary driver for many technology companies in the next decade. Shifts in how artificial intelligence (AI) is applied to computing and how consumers will interact with it are moving the emphasis from the server room to the devices in our pockets, a change that could benefit mobile-first players like Qualcomm QCOM, 0.90% In the current vision of AI, computing is associated with the cloud, large clusters of servers computing constantly in data centers. This model is led by Nvidia NVDA, 0.30% a company that CEO Jensen Huang has deftly maneuvered into the pole position for large-scale machine learning. There are fast followers to watch, though, including both Intel INTC, 0.71% a stalwart in the data-center space, and Google GOOG, -0.25% building its own chips for AI processing. This need for server-based artificial intelligence won't be going away as it is responsible for training the complex models and data sets required for AI to be applied on consumer and commercial devices.

Qualcomm Forms Artificial Intelligence Research Unit


Qualcomm announced a new division that would unify all its fundamental artificial intelligence research. Qualcomm A.I. Research gives form to what was largely an amorphous effort inside the company, which is focused on moving inference out of the cloud and into devices installed with its mobile chips, such as smartphones, warehouse robots, cars and security cameras. The reorganization reflects Qualcomm's doubling down on embedded artificial intelligence, which it argues can improve privacy for applications like voice-controlled speakers and save energy wasted sending information to the cloud. Taking artificial intelligence – a blanket term that includes machine learning – out of the cloud would also lower latency, which is important in mission-critical devices that require fast reaction times, like driverless cars. Accordingly, the company is focused on model compression and efficient hardware to squeeze as much processing as possible from embedded devices constrained by power and heat.

Battle Of The Cleaning Robots: iRobot Braava 380T Vs. Deebot Ozmo 601

Forbes Technology

The Deebot Ozmo 601 (left) next to the iRobot Braava (right). It's funny how the path of ascendance for Chinese tech upstarts seem to always involve competing with an American product with a lower-cased "I" in its name. In the smartphone world, Huawei, Xiaomi and Vivo are ultimately competing with the iPhone more than they are against each other; and in the world of robot cleaners, Suzhou-based Ecovacs Robotics' rapid rise means its products are constantly being compared with those from Massachusetts-based iRobot. In fact, the tech website Wirecutter (a Forbes partner) last year picked from a selection of top entry-level robot cleaners and Ecovacs' Deebot N79 came out on top, with iRobot's Roomba 690 as runner-up. Ecovacs loaned me a unit to review, but since my friend has raved about her Braava 380T for months, I opted for a comparison of both models.

Researchers use AI to turn smartphones into lab grade microscopes


Today we are on the verge of being able to give hundreds of millions of people around the world who still have no formal access to primary or secondary healthcare access to powerful smartphone based detection and diagnostic tools that help them detect the onset of everything from dementia and general disease, to heart conditions, inherited genetic disorders, pancreatic cancers, and skin cancer with nothing more than a smartphone and a free app. As a result the breakthrough could have big implications especially for healthcare in remote regions, and even environmental and pollution monitoring. The breakthrough not only opens up the possibility of one day soon being able to provide people, for example, in deprived, poor or remote areas, who don't have access to labs or lab grade microscopy an easy way to analyse environmental samples and medical samples, but it also helps feed the trend of helping to democratise access to primary and secondary healthcare, where today we can use smartphones and apps to diagnose everything from general disease, dementia, pancreatic cancer, skin cancer, and much more, to produce "better healthcare outcomes." The team's technique is low cost and simple, using attachments that can be inexpensively produced with a 3D printer, for less than $100 a piece, versus the thousands of dollars it would cost to buy lab grade equipment that produces images of similar quality. Cameras on today's smartphones are designed to photograph people and scenery, not to produce high resolution microscopic images, so the researchers had to develop an attachment that could be placed over the smartphone's lens to increase the resolution and the visibility of tiny details of the photos they take, down to a scale of approximately one millionth of a meter.

3D Sensors Provide Security, Better Games

Communications of the ACM

Sensor technology is designed to allow machines to interact with real-world inputs, whether they are humans interacting with their smartphones, autonomous vehicles navigating on a busy street, or robots using sensors to aid in manufacturing. Not surprisingly, three-dimensional (3D) sensors, which allow a machine to understand the size, shape, and distance of an object or objects within its field of view, have attracted a lot of attention in recent months, thanks to their inclusion on Apple's most-advanced (to date) smartphone, the iPhone X, which uses a single camera to measure distance. Indeed, the TrueDepth system, which replaces the fingerprint-based TouchID system on the Apple handset, shines approximately 30,000 dots outward onto the user's face. Then, an infrared (IR) camera captures the image of the dots, which provides depth information based on the density of the dots (closer objects display a dot pattern that is spread out, whereas objects that are farther away create a denser pattern of dots. Altogether, the placement of these dots creates a depth map with 3D data that is used to supply the system with the information it needs to check for a facial identity match, which then unlocks the device.

Samsung's logic chip biz turns to AI chips and 5G for change of fortune


Samsung Electronics has a business dynamic that baffles outsiders, even within South Korea, but one that makes perfect sense internally. Here's how it works: Every business is on its own. Boundaries are respected between them; they can cooperate, negotiate, or, on rarer occasions, compete. It has three CEOs -- in mobile, consumer electronics, and semiconductors. These are then subdivided further. For example, Device Solutions (DS), the conglomerate's semiconductor business, is divided into Memory, Foundry, and System LSI, each with its own president. The company is not shy about offloading businesses that don't meet its high performance standards, can't scale, or lack long-term vision.

How AI delivers powerful insights through Healthcare data


Artificial intelligence (AI) propelled by increasing availability of data and analytics is creating a revolution in the way technology works in solving complex problems. The fact that it utilizes, both structured and unstructured data to deliver powerful, conclusive result makes it highly sought after in areas of healthcare, entertainment, finance, transportation and more. Thanks to AI, the voluminous data which was previously untapped has now been unplugged. Coupled with predictive analysis, through AI massive amounts of data have been scrubbed to produce results that have made a paradigm shift in the way healthcare operates for all – providers, patients and professionals. What is AI actually and how does it work in healthcare?