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CES 2018: Artificial Intelligence at Home and Behind the Wheel

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Artificial intelligence dominated CES 2018 in a big way on Monday with major announcements on connected car advances and home system technologies. Google all but declared war on Amazon with its Google Assistant voice technology making its presence known at nearly every turn on the showroom floor.

LG rolled out a new lineup of high-end AI OLED and Super UHD televisions infused with its ThinQ AI technology and Alpha 9 technology, combining cinema-quality home entertainment with the ability to voice control the entire home.

The ThinQ technology, which integrates LG’s WebOS smart TV platform with Google Assistant, will allow customers to use hundreds of voice commands to search for specific content, control various functions on the television, and control home appliances.

LG introduced a total of nine new 4K AI OLED televisions, ranging from 55 to 77 inches, and seven new AI UHD televisions ranging from 55 to 75 inches.

Making New Inroads

Google and LG have expanded their collaboration — which started with mobile phones — to include watches, OLED TVs, refrigerators, washing machines, ovens and other products, Scott Huffman, vice president of engineering for Google Assistant, told CES attendees.

The two companies also have been collaborating on a smart speaker scheduled to launch later this year.

“Google is here in a big way to promote its solutions and combat Amazon,” said Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research.

Amazon’s Alexa has been winning most of the initial battles for new business, he told TechNewsWorld, but vendors have been supporting both platforms.

In terms of the global market, Google has an opportunity to make inroads in markets where Amazon does not compete on the same level, noted Marc Beccue, principal analyst at Tractica.

“Why? Biggest span of languages covered and legacy market penetration from Android and Chrome,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Amazon is more limited in language capabilities and legacy market penetration for Amazon.com.”

While Amazon was noticeably missing from the show in terms of booth presence, the company’s technology did manage to find its way into some fairly significant new product announcements.

Smart Cars

Panasonic announced a series of new efforts to expand its connected car technology, including working with Alexa to provide voice assistant technology for its Panasonic Skip Generation Platform in connected cars.

For example, customers will be able to use simple voice commands to prompt Alexa to play music from streaming services, to provide directions to local venues like coffee shops, to make sure the house is locked and lights are turned off, or to order a pizza delivery on the way home.

Panasonic and Qualcomm originally announced the technology at last year’s CES. It allows OEMs to create a seamless in-vehicle entertainment experience based on Android 7.0 and the Snapdragon 820Am processor.

Toyota made a huge splash with its autonomous vehicle technology. The company announced a new business alliance and concept vehicle called “e-Palette,” which will function as a platform for creating self-driving vehicles designed for everything from food and package delivery to medical transportation to ride-sharing in big cities.

Company president Akio Toyoda announced the new program at CES and introduced initial launch partners — Amazon, DiDi, Mazda, Pizza Hut and Uber — that will work on planning, application concepts and vehicle verification.

The plan calls for the vehicles to use next-generation electric batteries. They will come in three different sizes, and companies will be able to install their own automated driving systems and vehicle management technology.

Pizza Hut, for example, plans to use the vehicles to help with deliveries, noted spokesperson Doug Terfehr.

Also under consideration is development of a mobile kitchen so pies could be made on the road, he told TechNewsWorld.

“Toyota’s announcement underscores merely what’s been going on [in the industry], from pilot delivery to automated ride-sharing and car-related services,” Matt DeLorenzo, managing editor at Kelley Blue Book, told TechNewsWorld.

Toyota plans to begin testing the vehicles by 2020 in the U.S. and other locations, and it intends to deploy the cars at the 2020 Olympics and Paralympic games.

Rained Out

Those on hand for one of the most anticipated events at CES were disappointed. The demonstration of Workhorse Group’s SureFly, the first approved electric hybrid helicopter in the world, was postponed due to bad weather in the Nevada location where the autonomous vehicle was scheduled for a demonstration run.

The FAA just recently approved an Experimental Airworthiness Certificate allowing test flights of the two-person, self-propelled copter, noted spokesperson Mike Dektas, and a demonstration with passengers had been set to take place Monday afternoon

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Technology

10 technological changes in 10 technological years

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I found myself strangely nostalgic today after looking back at my own childhood, from a Generation Y perspective, and realised how much things have changed in a mere decade.

The differences between her generation and mine, even though separated by a few years, are stark and somewhat terrifying in hindsight.

1. There were nine planets in the solar system.

For years it was always nine planets and then one day, they decided it was either going to be eight, or about twenty. They chose eight. After seven years of primary education, the world I knew it was, well gone actually; they had just declassified it as a planet.

2. A BlackBerry was a fruit, and so was Apple.

I wouldn’t be too surprised if people heard either “blackberry” or “apple” and genuinely thought of the fruit. But I cannot seem to shake the association now built with my mobile device. People say, “have at least one of your five a day”, whilst I have my BlackBerry in my hand making a call. I’d say that counts, right?

3. To load up a program, you’d have to slam in a cassette tape and wait 20 minutes for it to load.

My first computer, a CPC-464. It was so heavy you could have used it as a concrete block in a mafioso novel. A ten year gap is a bit of an exaggeration but I knew people still word processing back then on green-screened computers. When the 5″ floppy disk came out, we saw that as a mini-revolution in itself.

4. You had to dial into the Internet.

You couldn’t just have the Internet flowing in and out of the computer like an out of control waterfall. No, you had to tell it to dial another computer and information would be sent to and fro through, what was essentially a computer-to-computer phone call. What’s even more weird is that it’s still available, even today.

5. A single gigabyte hard drive simply couldn’t be filled, through no will of trying.

My first computer bought for the family at Christmas 1996 (yes, it had Windows 95) had a 64MB memory and a single gigabyte of storage. My dad said, “we will never, ever fill that”.

6. Video tapes the size of Bibles would be the only way to record a television programme, and even then it’d only be able to record an hour and a half at best.

Even though I’m far too young to remember the Betamax vs. VHS war, I most certainly remember hoping to watch back an episode of The Simpsons which I’d recorded on the oldest VCR in the world, and it failing miserably with tape lodged and jammed in every bit. It was heartbreaking.

7. The only porn we could find was the shredded remains of a dirty magazine under a bush in the local park.

This generation of Internet kids has seen more porn than any other generation of children, ever. When I was a lad, one morning you’d be lucky enough to find a shred of it near where the local dirty old man sleeps in the evening. “Kids having kids… blame the parents”: no, blame the Internet.

8. There was only one computer in the house, and if there were more, only one would connect to the Internet at a time.

No such things as wireless back then. The only wireless you’d know of was the radio, and that would have been a main source of entertainment. It may sound like wartime England, 10 years ago wasn’t that far away. Windows XP hadn’t come out yet, I was still in a school uniform and the computers we used were running Windows NT.

9. There were no such things as flat screen televisions.

At least commercially, anyway. I come from a generation where our eyes are slightly closer together yet facing slightly the opposite way from being transfixed by a CRT television for all these years. And I laugh now at the “radiation warnings” from the sticker on the side of the box…

10. Twitter was called “text messaging” and the “tweet” only went to one other person.

Yes, a new phenomenon which many don’t realise that was basically text messaging. While sending a text is still far more popular than Twitter, the days where news would slowly seep its way through a friendship group (nowadays a “social network”), whereas now you can update literally anyone and everyone in the space of 160 characters.

A lot can happen in ten years.

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