source: technewsworld.com

Google this week debuted a slew of new capabilities for its artificial intelligence software, Google Assistant, at CES in Las Vegas.

One of the headliners was a preview of Google Assistant Connect. The new platform lets device manufacturers incorporate Google Assistant into their products easily and cost-effectively.

Connect uses Google's existing smart home platform to expand to new device types, while making device setup and discovery easy for consumers. A manufacturer could create a continuous e-ink display projecting weather or calendar information, for example, while using Connect to drive content from a linked smart speaker.

"The key here is making device setup and discovery easy for consumers," observed Jack Narcotta, senior industry analyst for smart home strategies at Strategy Analytics.

"Addressing the frustration that still often accompanies smart home device setup and use -- especially during that all-important initial setup -- is a big step for any company seeking to expand its footprint into the smart home," he told TechNewsWorld.

Google also announced new plans for Assistant:

  • Building Google Assistant into the Sonos One and Sonos Beam speakers so users can control their sound entertainment from anywhere in the home without needing their smartphone. Earlier models of Sonos speakers will be updated to work with Google Assistant;
  • Expanding Assistant later this year to work with other popular media and entertainment devices, including Samsung TVs. This will let users use voice commands to turn the TV on, change volume and channels, and switch within inputs;
  • Having Google Assistant built into Dish's Hopper family of receivers. This will let consumers use their Dish Voice Remote to search for content, check the weather, or control other connected devices in the home;
  • Including Google Assistant in Android TV. Sony, Hisense, Philips, Xiaomi, Haier and JVC are among the Google partners that have launched and showcased such Android TV devices. Several will have far field microphones that will let them pick up the user's voice even with noise in the room or on the TV; and
  • Expanding Google Assistant's ability to respond to users even when their Android phones are locked if they opt in to this feature. They also will be able to set up and dismiss alarms, schedule reminders and timers, and view answers to personal queries such as traffic and calendar updates. This feature is currently available on Pixels and will be rolled out to all Android devices in the next few weeks.

Assistance for Everyday Living

Lenovo will unveil a Smart Clock this spring, priced at US$79, that incorporates Google Assistant and will let users control their smart home devices.

Whirlpool previewed its new KitchenAid Smart Display with the Google Assistant at CES.

 source: forbes.com

This is the second installment of the annual Gartner prediction/trends set. The last one focused on strategic predictions. This one focuses on Gartner’s technology trends.

This year’s list feels a little like a redo (with some new names for already pretty well-defined trends). Part of the problem with solid research organizations like Gartner is how visible they are. They host conferences, publish reports and through their consulting practice evangelize the technology trends they endlessly discuss in their travels. So the annual lists cannot help but disappoint a little since so many of us have heard a Gartner analyst or consultant describe the trends, or have seen a bunch of Gartner Hype Cycles and Magic Quadrants. 

More Obvious Than Good or Missing 

With all that said, let’s look at the trends. Some of the trends are good, some are obvious and some are missing.

 

The first trend is “autonomous things.” Gartner believes in autonomous things! Sorry, but this trend is about as obvious as a Trump rally. Investments in autonomous things – especially vehicles – have been spiking for years. In fact, there’s a bona fide race to autonomy of all shapes and sizes among some of the largest companies in the world – and some of the (very well-funded) smallest! And yes, autonomous things will be enabled by a variety of technologies, including especially IOT and AI. No one knows, for example, what % of air, land and sea vehicles will be partially or fully autonomous in five years, and, yes, connectivity will be part of the rollout of all things autonomous. Good, but obvious.

“Augmented analytics” is a true emerging trend: we’re on our way, but the number of applications is still thin. I’m not too sure about Gartner’s “citizen data scientist” concept, but if it helps us understand and define the interrelationships among data preparation, the automated and quasi-automated generation of insights, and “human assistance” in areas like natural language processing (NLP) and auto-generated visualization, then I guess “citizens” are better than traitors. There’s no question that AI will assist with big data analytics. The open question is the distribution of tasks: who does what? Another good, though obvious trend.

 

  source: cnet.com
 

We came, we saw, we chose. From the coolest products to the weirdest, we've spent a week sampling the technological wonderland that CES 2019 has to offer. And now, it's time to present CNET's picks for the best of CES.

There's a TV that magically rolls down into a box, the most powerful gaming laptop we've ever seen, a pinpoint makeup applicator that "erases" your skin flaws, a smartwatch that's partially powered by your body heat and so much more. 

Watch this: The top 10 best things we saw at CES 2019
 22:46

Best TV: LG OLED R rollable TV

Best car tech: Audi/Disney Holoride 

Best smart home tech: KitchenAid Smart Display

Best AI/smart assistant: Google Assistant with extensive 2019 upgrades, including Interpreter Mode and Google Assistant Connect

Best beauty tech: P&G Opte Precision Skincare System 

Best emerging tech: Matrix PowerWatch 2 

Best health tech: Omron HeartGuide

Best PC: Acer Swift 7

Best gaming gear: Alienware Area 51m

Best AR/VR tech: HTC Vive Pro Eye 

Watch CNET's Brian Cooley and Scott Stein count down the picks (video above), and click through the gallery below to see all the details. 

 source: inc.com

 Predicting the future is hardly an exact science, but when you watch an industry closely it is possible to identify trends and chart a course for where things are likely headed. Here are predictions made by 31 successful executives who believe they can see what will be different in 2019.

1. Amazon's next move will be in hospitality.

"In the past year, Amazon has entered new spaces like grocery and health care, has hinted at venturing into banking, and is even selling live Christmas trees--so what's next? If you look at consumer share-of-wallet as an indicator, one other area that's ripe for Amazon expansion is hospitality. They've just started dipping their toes into local services like house cleaning and handymen. I see great potential value for Amazon to venture into travel and restaurants and leverage its enormous customer base to capture a share of the hospitality spend in 2019."

--Amit Sharma, founder and CEO of Narvar, a customer-engagement platform used by more than 500 retailers, including Sephora, Patagonia, Home Depot, and Gap

2. Cyber attacks will move into the real world.

"[Next year] will be the year of cyber-physical hacking. We've seen the damage a ransomware attack can cause on a company's digital assets, but what happens when we move beyond cyberspace and into the real world? From attacks on manufacturing equipment to surveillance cameras to data centers, we're talking about extremely costly and damaging events that have the power to shut down business operations entirely. Unfortunately, this could be the year of the cyber wake-up call the industry has warned about for years."

--Amit Yoran, first-ever director of the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team and current CEO of Tenable, which just had one of the biggest cybersecurity IPOs in five years

3. Security will move upstream.

"Everybody is waking up to the fact that data security is a critical problem that needs to be addressed earlier in the development process. This is true not only for customers whose data is on the line, but also for business leaders and software developers who are charged with protecting it. Today, these parties are trying to understand how they can incorporate security into their DevOps process. In 2019, businesses will implement what they have learned. Tech leaders will educate developers on how to avoid errors like coding security holes into their apps. Additionally, developers will increasingly add security detection features at the code level. Not only will code be better protected against intruders; it will watch out for anomalous activity as well."

--Derek Choy, CIO of Rainforest QA, an on-demand quality-assurance testing company that was recently named one of Inc.'s 2018 "Best Places to Work" and services hundreds of companies, including Adobe, Oracle, and SolarWinds

4. Customer success will be the new growth for startups.

"As the foundation for growth within a B2B organization, customer success will play a more critical role within companies in 2019. Traditionally, enterprise sales were focused on new logos, which missed opportunities to nurture existing customers. Growth would then suffer as a result. Without a stable base of customers, companies can't grow as fast because they are constantly filling a leaky bucket. In 2019, we will see a new lens on customer economics, from churn to retention and cohort growth."

--Dale Chang, operating partner at Scale Venture Partners, a venture capital firm that invests in early-in-revenue enterprise software companies such as DocuSign, Box, and HubSpot, and raised $400 million to close its sixth fund earlier this year

5. The workspace will evolve.

"The rise of A.I. and automation software means humans are moving away from repetitive tasks and are increasingly focused on tasks only humans can do: think creatively and interact with other humans. For workspaces, this means people spend less time sitting at their desks and more time in a diversity of settings. The most innovative companies are no longer thinking about workspace as a single location, but rather a network of spaces that employees can access based on what they are trying to achieve--brainstorm a new product, train a new sales team, impress a client, or work quietly on their own. Uber and Spotify have revolutionized access to music and mobility, by giving everyone a private driver or a personalized playlist for a specific occasion. Employees will increasingly expect the same level of choice and diversity from their workspace."

--Dror Poleg, real estate and strategy adviser at Breather, a provider of space-as-a-service across 10 cities, serving more than 500,000 people and used by companies such as Spotify, Away, and Tesla

6. People will stop talking about containers.

"Containers are the hottest topic in enterprise IT since the cloud itself. For a while, everyone was obsessed with what technology leaders like Google were doing with the technology, and the top three topics of conversation at any DevOps