Electronics

Google Home and Amazon Echo

I’ve Talked to the Future and It Talked Back

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Sometimes I walk into a room and say, “Alexa, what’s the temperature outside?” She answers by speaking the current temperature followed by an abbreviated weather report. She’s so human-like, I have to resist the temptation to say “Thank you” when she finishes. Importantly, Alexa is not a she; it is a component of Amazon's Echo natural language processing system. Amazon has anthropomorphized Echo with a female voice and a feminine name, which makes it easy to call Alexa a “she.” Should we be polite when we speak to it, or is it OK to be abrupt or even abusive? The device won’t care. It doesn't have feelings; but how will we teach our children to differentiate between machines that sound and act like people, and other disembodied voices that actually are people?

Samsung VR App Store

It’s Not TV, It’s a TV App

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How soon will TV transform from wall-mounted 4K flat-screens to a 99-cent app in a VR/AR App Store? That's a question few will ponder this week as the National Association of Broadcasters gathers in Las Vegas for the NAB Show 2016. TV has both defined and enlarged mass communication for more than a half-century. No one in their right mind would suggest that big-screen TVs might go away – ever! Well, no one ever said I was in my right mind.

Chevy Bolt vs. Tesla Model 3

Is the Chevy Bolt a Tesla Killer?

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Elon Musk recently announced the Tesla Model 3, a sub-$40k, 5-seat plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) with a ~200-mile range that is well positioned to change the world. It should be available sometime in late 2017. As of this writing, the company has received over 325,000 deposits ($1,000 each). That said, sometime in late 2016 (a year earlier than Tesla is scheduled to launch the Model 3), GM is going to launch the Chevy Bolt, a sub-$40k, 5-seat PEV with a ~200-mile range that is also well positioned to change the world. As of this writing, GM has received approximately zero deposits to reserve the Bolt, and there's a reason.

Tay.ai

Is Microsoft’s Tay Chatbot Really “a Bad Naughty Robot?”

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Tay is a combination chatbot and AI system designed by Microsoft to "engage and entertain people where they connect with each other online through casual and playful conversation." It was specifically "targeted at 18 to 24 year olds in the U.S., the dominant users of mobile social chat services in the U.S." If the words "designed" and "targeted" are off-putting, then you're really not going to care for one of the system's recent, now infamous, tweets ... but, there is much, much more to learn from Microsoft's mistake.

Samsung Gear 360

Samsung Gear 360 & Galaxy S7 Debut

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What do real estate agents, interior decorators, soccer moms and sports photographers all have in common? VR is about to rock their respective worlds thanks to the new Samsung Galaxy S7 and a little ball of joy called the Samsung Gear 360.