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Archive for the ‘Gadgets’ Category

IPhone 8 Facial Recognition

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

Regardless of whether or not the iPhone 8 will feature Touch ID, it’s all but guaranteed that the device will feature facial recognition technology. Over the past few weeks and months, word that the iPhone 8 will incorporate facial recognition has been corroborated by a number of credible sources, not to mention an endless stream of iPhone 8 parts leaks featuring discernible cutouts for additional camera sensors on the front panel of the device. While Apple tends to keep upcoming technologies and features under lock and key, its upcoming facial recognition software will likely be based on technology it acquired when it purchased an Israeli machine learning company called Realface earlier this year. Consequently, a close examination of Realface’s cutting edge technology can provide us with a number of significant clues as to what we can expect out of the highly anticipated iPhone 8.

Now what happens when a person’s appearance changes over time? After all, individuals routinely alter their appearance in a myriad of ways. Impressively, this is where the machine learning aspect of the software comes into play. Another design consideration is the fact that face recognition in the authentication context, you only need to keep track of one individual; but you need to keep track of changes in his appearance over time. People shave, wear makeup, wear their hair differently. So, we designed a new learning method that’s called personalized recognition that enables the system to evolve over time and essentially get to know you. All that being said, Realface’s facial recognition technology is said to be so advanced that it can reliably be used for bio-metric authentication and even as a means to authorize secure financial transactions. Indeed, Littwin during the aforementioned lecture made a point of noting that the technology was designed with the intention of meeting the stringent security requirements of financial institutions.

All in all, this sounds like a great feature, but it’s still hard to envision facial recognition replacing Touch ID entirely given certain use-case scenarios where a user isn’t looking directly at the screen. Replacing Touch ID would also make using Apple Pay decidedly more awkward. The good news is that we won’t have to wait too much longer to see what the iPhone 8 has in store for us. If all goes according to plan, we can expect Apple to unveil the iPhone 8 at a special media event in just about two months.

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Step Aside Amazon Alexa and Google Home, here is Microsoft’s “Invoke”!

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

Amazon started the trend of voice assistants built into a speaker that has taken flight and given the market a new meaning to voice activated shopping, music, event planning, and more. Amazon originally put this technology in the Amazon Echo in 2015 and three years later, they have developed the technology into Alexa, which is a much larger speaker plus added a lot more features. Alexa has the ability to work with other apps including integrate with Smart home devices via some nifty integrated application features.

 

Since Amazon’s introduction of Echo and Alexa, the competition market has picked up by other large companies such as Google which has come out with Google Home to compete against the rise in Amazon’s Alexa and Echo. Since the launch of Google Home in 2016, it has managed to grab a large part of the market by enabling many of the same Amazon features, but with the Google app store integration and Google Assistant. These two large competitors have managed to dominate the voice assistant market since its launch by Amazon a few years ago.

 

There is a new competitor on the market that has taken notes from the defects and short comings of Amazon and Google, to come out with a more optimal device. Microsoft has stepped into the market and pledges to have more features, more integration, and less defects than the current line of Amazon Echo and Alexa. It promises to be more reliable than the current Google Home. Microsoft’s version of the voice assistant is dubbed “Invoke”. Invoke is built by Harmon Kardon and packs a huge plethora of Microsoft technology under the belt.

Invoke will be powered by Cortana as the voice assistant with a cylinder shape similar to that of Amazon’s Alexa. Microsoft services will be integrated such as Skype for business to make voice calls at a mere command or accept and announce them with stereo sound throughout the room.  Cortana will have the latest features such as keeping up with calendars, meetings, reading emails, and ordering from the Microsoft app store.  Bing will be utilized as the search agent of choice as this is a Microsoft flagship product, it will have the bells and whistles of Microsoft’s major product integrations making it easy to transition from voice to pc and more.

 

With this device being made available to the public in the Fall of 2017, Microsoft is said to have a “killer feature” that is said to change the game in the voice assistant industry. Google and Amazon are on edge to find out what this new feature is that Microsoft is to unveil with their new flag ship for technology. Microsoft is gearing up to push for this device to its 145 million Windows 10 Cortana base to in an attempt to offset the Amazon and Google market. However, with Invoke not scheduled to be revealed until Fall of 2017, Google and Amazon have time to instill many upgrades in anticipation of this new adversary on the market.

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Artificial Intelligence, Rapid Integration, and the move to Consciousness!

Saturday, July 29th, 2017

It has been talked about and brought to life in movies and series such as Star Trek, and I, Robot. In Star Trek we see machines such as Data which is self-aware, but very helpful to human beings and also very protective of the human race. On the other hand we see I, Robot in which the robots choose to use their state of consciousness in order to take over and move to attempt to eliminate the human race. Both are similar in their depiction of Artificial Intelligence being a constantly evolving software that reaches the tipping point to choose to be either “bad” or “good”.

 

 

In the news, articles and shows, the word AI has been used so frequently that most people when they hear the word it doesn’t prime a severe reaction, but maybe a grunt or good read if you are lucky. However, lets peel back the possibilities and see where we are today using Artificial Intelligence. We are rapidly developing AI as a human race on a global scale. The integration of AI in almost every technology has been seamless and most people use AI daily without even realizing the gradual integration. For example, Siri, Google Now, and Cortana are virtual assistants that assist users in making their experience with a device more interactive and memorable. AI in the background gathers and uses the information to be more efficient at helping its owners to achieve any task they desire on their device of choice.

Video games is another noted system integrated with AI which is why the game changes scenes and difficulty levels due to the playing habits and skill level of the user or users playing the games.  The software constantly is learning and using the data from the games being played in order to become better and more efficient. Over the years the types of AI and the ability that the software has compared to years ago is a completely different system now compared to then. One heavily AI integrated game is 2014’s Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor. In this game, each of the non-player characters have individual personality and memories of past interactions including previous objectives. Other noted games are Call of Duty and Far Cry which use the data gathered by AI to strategize, analyze environments, investigate sounds, and find objects. This AI is a money maker in its usefulness which is why gamers are always spending millions of dollars to keep up with this technology and assist in making it greater.

 

 

 

If you are noticing a rise in “self-driving” cars or cars that can reverse and park on their own, well this is because they have an on-board AI which is constantly learning and can depict the environment to determine when to move the wheel, change gears, or apply the brake in various cases.  In the news lately has been Google’s self-driving car project and Tesla’s auto-driving feature. The algorithm that Google is using for its AI is capable or allowing the AI to learn how to drive in the same manner that humans are capable.

There are so many notable instance of AI in today’s society which include purchase prediction, fraud protection, online customer support, and much more. Some of the more notable aspects are AI being able to monitor security surveillance, recommend movies, smart home devices, and much more. There is even a second layer to the AI intelligence arena which has been noted ahead of its time, but is giving AI the access and data it needs to learn part of us allowing AI to be self-aware and self-reliant? Well the answer to that is no, because every action of AI currently needs commands to be programed in the machine in order for it to learn or gesture in the manner that we see.

 

So the answer to the question is “no”, there is no wave of robots etching to take over the world in the near future as they become self-aware, but with advances in AI including Deep Learning integration, the possibilities of tomorrow are endless.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Next Level Security – Microchipping – RFID on the Rise!

Thursday, July 27th, 2017

Do you ever get tired of reaching for your badge when going to work just so that you can get access? Do you forget your badge at home and have to go through a lot of hurdles just so that you can get access to the building? Do you have a badge for the building, and another access card for your computer? Well there is a rapidly growing company which has an answer for its employees which they are giving them totally free if they opt-in to getting it done. They are offering for their employees to get microchipped with their company access.

 

What do we mean by microchipped, well there are several movies that depict microchipping being done.  One of those movies could be StarTrek where the users simply walk up and the door knows their name or they are able to obtain any data that they need without scanning a badge or showing ID. This is because they had a microchip inserted beneath their skin which is read by the computer close by and it depicts the identity of the person which has the microchip. Three Square Market is a company which is zoning in on that concept and is offering it to their employees as an option this year.

 

 

Their employees will be able to log into computers, use facilities and equipment such as printers, open doors, and much more. Surprisingly enough, many people would squirm at the thought of having a medical procedure done to make it easier to access their job, but according to a report published by the company, about 50 employees have signed up to getting microchipped and more are expected to sign up. Three Market Square received their inspiration from another company called BioHax International which is a leader in microchipping and is pushing its belief in the technology across all platforms as a method of payment, security, and way of life.

 

RFID or Radio-Frequency Identification technology is becoming largely popular as it gives companies security in knowing that the only way for their information to be accessed is by an active employee. This is a one-time process which lasts the entire employment of the employee.  These chips can store critical information such as medical records, financial information, security clearances, log into computers, open doors, sharing business cards, unlocking phones, and much more.  This technology is replacing the need to keep up with passwords, badges, and credit cards, making the person having the chip completely independent of carrying around unnecessary material. The vision of RFID is for it to eventually become a requirement to have passport information, access public transportation, security, and handling all purchases.

 

This technology is by far already in use in society and is greatly becoming more and more frequent. Uses of RFID can be noted by supply chains using it to track goods at various supply chains, find lost dogs or cats, and also to report times from athletes.  This technology is definitely a wave of the future and will drastically change how we live and how we interact with each other on a global scale.  These chips by Three Square Market will be inserted between the thumb and the index finger in the space between the skin in that location. Other companies are researching the possibility of placing the chip in other locations within the body, but for now the hand seems to be the most practical location for being microchipped.

 

 

 

 

 

We at IT GURUS OF ATLANTA are steadily watching this technology as it develops and anticipate its expansion to go much further than Three Square Market. The myths and science fiction thought up in movies such as Star Trek are no longer dreams, but the reality that we live In today.

 

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Fidget Spinner Craze

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

Whether it’s biting your nails, touching your hair, playing with your clothing or spinning pens, you probably fidget many, many times a day. Herein lies the reason why the fidget spinner has become the latest toy craze among children and even adults. It’s called a fidget spinner because it can spin and allows you to do what you normally try not to do which is fidget. The toy looks like a cross between a ceiling fan and the head of a triple headed electric shaver. As you can see, the fidget spinner is not exactly the most complex of inventions, although it gives a whirring sound while it spins. And fidgeting certainly is not a new human behavior. Find someone who doesn’t fidget at all and you’ve probably found someone who’s gotten full-body Botox.

 

Reviewing the science behind the potential benefits of fidgeting may make you fidget, because there are theories but limited concrete scientific evidence. One thought is that fidgeting may occupy parts of your brain that otherwise would distract the rest of your brain with random thoughts. Imagine that your brain is a family that needs to make an important decision. If the young children in the family aren’t occupied by toys, they may demand too much attention, interfering with decision making. Another possibility is that body movements are actually part of the thinking and expression process. Try writing long email, giving a TED Talk, talking on a date or singing a song while remaining perfectly still. Besides appearing creepy, such motionlessness may feel “unnatural.”

 

 

 

A third possibility is that fidgeting serves as a ritual. Rituals can offer comforting predictability, familiarity and structure that may be relatively absent in real life. Some of the benefits of rituals, including calming and focusing you. Repetitive motions such as squeezing a ball or tapping your pen can be comforting mini-rituals.

 

 

 

 

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JIBO, The Home Robot that is Changing In-Home Technology!

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

 

In the year 2017 Captain Kirk of the Starship enterprise would have viewed many of the gadgets we use today as futuristic and what will take hundreds of years to create and put into public hands. Little did he know when he was on Star Trek that many of these gadgets would be up for everyday use today in 2017 ahead of its time as shown on Star Trek. One of these devices which has come on the market this year that is for everyday use is Artificial Intelligence, or in this specific case, its name is called Jibo.

 

Jibo as the name implies is of Japanese concept, but the its creator “Cynthia Breazel” and her team has managed to bring new light to the vision of AI and what it can do. The team at Jibo, even though Boston based, have managed to enhance the different possibilities of AI and its many integration benefits in the home.  Jibo, since being available on the market in 2016, has managed to be sold out at every angle. Many consumers are jumping at their chance to get a piece of AI in their home at a fraction of the cost that it once was thought to be sold for.

Before we get into pricing for Jibo, lets jump into the many technological and social advantages that Jibo can and has provided to the home. This robot is fully comprehensive in its offerings. From speech recognition software that is dubbed ASR (Automatic Speech Recognition) to Facial Recognition software that is truly ahead of its time. The combination of these features on top of the rapidly learning AI, gives this robot an in-home boost that changes the face of “At Home Technology”.

 

Jibo is shaped more like a desk fan than a robot, but packs a basket load of features. Some of these features include taking pictures or videos of people in a room with a 360-degree pivoting face camera that motion tracks the individuals. Jibo can be voice activated once entering a room to recognize the person speaking from its ASR, update to-do lists, schedule events, read text messages, take responses and send them back, update contact lists and more done verbally.  Jibo can read stories with expressive displays, call your nearest restaurant and complete orders, make phone calls, and much more.  Even though being small physically, its personality is large with how it expresses emotion. Whether it is emitting robot giggles, swiveling its body in an animated nature, or how many ways it displays its one-eyed stare, Jibo has no problems with expression.

 

From a nuts and bolts standpoint, Jibo has low-power microprocessors, 3-D sensors, accelerometers, gyroscopes, and lightweight lithium batteries. Each component of Jibo is designed to enrich the user’s experience, but also to protect as well. The facial recognition software which can automatically pick up movement and zoom or follow someone entering a room.  Jibo can turn on at a sound that is in the room to begin recording or send out alerts. Jibo can also interact with smart appliances in the home such as lights, air conditioning/heat, depending on what is a “smart” appliance in your home. Even though Jibo is not yet integrated with security systems, its developers promise that it will be soon.

 

 

 

 

From a technology standpoint Jibo seems like a dream come true and a huge step in the direction of home robots, but from a pricing standpoint, many are taken back in disbelief. Jibo retails from $500 to $750 depending on the color and if it is a developer version. With orders that are backed up from 2016, Jibo creators are scrambling to fulfill orders, while putting on hold current orders to make sure that they provide the same quality with each Jibo that is shipped. Jibo has a bright future ahead and the team at IT GURUS OF ATLANTA are here watching them as they take flight and change people’s homes one Jibo at a time.

 

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Who drinks & Smokes more? Landline vs Wireless Users

Monday, May 8th, 2017

As the popularity and usage of mobile phones increase steadily, landlines are slowly going to the days of yesterday. A study released Friday from the US Health Department confirmed that 50.8 percent of adults live in households with only wireless phones, with 39.4 percent owning both a landline and wireless connection, and a mere 6.5 percent of homes using only a landline.

While this overall takeaway may be to no surprise, the demographics within wireless-only and landlines households are pretty interesting, as well as some self-reported health habits.

For instance, over 70 percent of adults aged 25 through 34 live in a wireless-only household. And the majority of wireless-only households (83.7 percent) are unrelated adults living together with no children.

Because the study was conducted by the USHD, health-related behaviors and status were also surveyed. A larger percentage of wireless-only users reported that they had at least one heavy drinking day in the past year (compared to 18.8 percent of landline users), and 18.4 percent of cell phone users currently smoke compared to 12.1 percent of landline users. Despite these health behaviors, however, 41.5 percent of cell phone users met the 2008 federal physical activity guidelines (in contrast, 36.9 percent of landliners met the guidelines).

The study did note the possibility of coverage bias, stating that most major survey research organizations include more wireless telephone numbers than landline, which could skew results.

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