Eon partners with Microsoft to offer smart home service: Microsoft has announced it will partner with German utility E.ON to develop a smart home platform to manage everything in a house that runs on electricity — from washing machines to HVAC thermostats to the charging stations for electric cars. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced the linkup on the first day of “Microsoft Ignite” in Orlando, the company’s annual presentation to 30,000 participants. The two companies want to tap into the growing market for the internet of things (IoT) — the networking of machines that communicate with each other.
Logistics: UPS to rely on IoT: Time and time again, Amazon uses disruptive innovations to attack the business of logistics companies such as DHL, FedEx or UPS. The latter shipping giant, however, has a significant competitive advantage: For some time, UPS has been increasingly relying on the Internet of Things to optimize its performance. Technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), smart cites and dynamic routing optimization will help UPS improve on efficient meeting of customer requirements, Juan Perez, CIO and chief engineering officer for UPS, said. UPS will soon deploy the third generation of its “ORION” delivery optimization system. UPS also is looking use more IoT and smart city technologies to “bridge” what customer service systems tell people digitally with what is unfolding in the physical supply chain.
Amazon shows new Alexa devices: At an event at Amazon headquarters in Seattle, David Limp, Amazon’s SVP of devices & services, asked reporters to “imagine a future that has thousands of devices in your home.” In addition to rolling out several new and updated products, Amazon plans to accomplish that by facilitating more integrations with other product makers and providing new home services. Amazon unveiled a slew of new devices that will further incorporate its voice-activated assistant Alexa into people’s homes, including a subwoofer, a smart plug and even a microwave. The tech giant is also updating its family of Echo smart speakers, the devices that have helped the e-commerce giant establish an early lead among voice-based interfaces.
Microsoft launches Cortana Skills Kit for enterprise developers: Microsoft has introduced the Cortana Skills Kit for Enterprise to give businesses the power to create custom voice apps for their employees, as well as for users. At the company’s Ignite conference in Florida, Microsoft announced the new Cortana Skills Kit for Enterprise, letting businesses take advantage of the digital assistant’s natural-language processing to create custom skills for their business. It uses the Microsoft Bot Framework (which just hit its own Version 4 milestone this week) and the Azure Cognitive Services language-understanding (LUIS) technology. The goal is to make Cortana skills and conversational computing in the workplace as easy to use as smartphones are today, requiring no lengthy introduction or user manual. Cortana can also simplify things like scheduling meetings with colleagues by coordinating times across multiple calendars.
venturebeat.com, zdnet.com, mashable.com
Daimler opens test track for autonomous driving: Daimler has held an opening ceremony for its new 200-million-euro Test and Technology Center in the German municipality Immendingen. With the Bertha Area (an area for testing highly automated vehicles), engineers have a test module of 100,000 square meters at their disposal that is specially designed for all topics related to automated driving. The maneuvers performed there focus in particular on automated driving and the safety functions of current and future driver assistance systems along the way to autonomous driving. A particular focus is placed on the four strategic future areas of connectivity (connected), autonomous driving (autonomous), flexible use (shared) and electric drive (electric).
IBM awarded patent for autonomous self-servicing devices within blockchain-based IoT system cointelegraph.com
Ignite 2018: Adobe, Microsoft and SAP announce the Open Data Initiative news.microsoft.com
Potsdam: Germany launches world’s first autonomous tram in Potsdam theguardian.com
Microsoft: Office suite receives AI support golem.de
NUMBER OF THE WEEK
According to a study by the World Economic Forum, only 46 percent of employees in German companies are adequately prepared for future digital challenges – a meager value compared to the rest of the globe.
Kaspersky Lab warns against IoT malware: During the first half of 2018, malware designed specifically for Internet of Things (IoT) devices grew three-fold with over 120,000 modifications of malware according to new research from Kaspersky Lab. The market for IoT devices (also known as “smart” gadgets), and their role in everyday life, is growing exponentially. But cybercriminals are seeing the financial opportunities too, and are multiplying and differentiating their attacks as a result. The danger for consumers who love their IoT gadgets, is that threats can strike unexpectedly, turning seemingly harmless devices into powerful machines for illegal activity. This can include malicious cryptocurrency mining, DDoS attacks, or the discreet inclusion of devices in botnet activities.
AI translation causes increase in sales: The economists Erik Brynjolfsson, Xiang Hui, and Meng Liu have examined the correlation between a common national language and increased trade between two partners. An example is machine translation, as the economists found when analyzing eBay’s deployment in 2014 of an AI-based tool that learned to translate by digesting millions of lines of eBay data and data from the internet. The aim is to allow eBay sellers and buyers in different countries to more easily connect with one another. The tool detects the location of an eBay user’s internet protocol address in, say, a Spanish-speaking country and automatically translates the English title of the eBay offering. After eBay unveiled its English-Spanish translator for search queries and item titles, exports on eBay from the United States to Latin America increased by more than 17 percent.
PROJECT OF THE WEEK
ZF plans autonomous vehicle push: German auto supplier ZF Friedrichshafen AG has announced that it is developing its own self-driving vehicle technology. Commercial vehicles that are intelligently connected thanks to production-ready ZF technology and equipped with autonomous driving functions are capable of independently performing all logistics tasks or assisting package delivery drivers. Autonomous delivery trucks will make package deliveries along the “last mile” more efficient – which will in the future help to deal with rising delivery volumes while reducing traffic in city centers. The car industry’s shift to electric and self-driving vehicles is opening the field to new competitors.
“We need rules and institutions, a type of AI technical inspection association. We need to service AI systems in the same way we do with brake systems today.”
Damian Borth from the German University of St. Gallen is an expert in machine learning and demands a seal of approval for AI systems.
Chat robots fail German testing: Stiftung Warentest testers have examined chat offers and hotlines of telecommunications companies such as Vodafone, Congstar or O2. The crushing verdict: All of the chat bots failed. The verdict: “No trace of artificial intelligence”. The chat robots by companies such as Vodafone, O2, and Unitymedia are “stupid, overwhelmed and moody”. The bots often do not understand requests correctly, completely bypass the topic with their answers or react moodily. However, live chats with humans didn’t go much better.