July 26, 2017, 10:27 am
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AMAZON AT CES 2017; Artificial intelligence lead tech trends

On the last day of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, not only are the gifts and tokens given out more generously, visitors to the show were also given 50th anniversary commemorative pins. After two full days of breakout sessions and keynotes, it was clear that two major advances are in the field of artificial intelligence, and not leviating speakers. It was in managing big data to ensure that traffic congestion can be outwitted by human discernment, and not in the latest device in a world seemingly ruled by  fly-by-night gadget trends.

Journalists from every technology market in the world were there, including five or six colleagues from the Philippines. I visited buying my own plane and show ticket, so I had no interest in any particular brand, I was there for the tech. And there was plenty. Here are my top three technology heroes.

1.  A lady names Alexa will lead to way. Amazon’s Alexa will become the maid and mistress of every home and even every car.  Alexa was so prominent at the CES, that practically every device with wi-fi can benefit from not only the voice recognition of Alexa but the consequent artificial intelligence platforms offered by Amazon.

Google’s Assistant is also in the race for the connected home or car. But Amazon is winning. Soon every gadget from 4K TVs by Sony and LG, to smart appliances by GE (including an app controlled “First Build” cooker), Whirlpool’s washers, dryers, refrigerators, and ovens and Samsung’s cool robot vacuum will recognize Alexa and run it.

Volkswagen announced at the CES that it will soon have Alexa in its cars for the North American market and Ford also revealed the same just a little while later.

Amazon entire artificial intelligence platform has been made available to developers in with such ease that by the next CES, I’d be surprise if any device will be displayed that Alexa isn’t on. The  connected home was with us as early as five years ago. CES 2017 showed us that with Alexa running it, the intelligently connected home is running.

In as early as three to five years, Amazon’s Lex Amazon will converse with us through out home appliances. Amazon Rekognition will know it is use by recognizing as we approach, and Amazon Polly turn text commands into lifelike speech. These new categories of deep learning interfaces will scale up into the use of Amazon Machine Learning which allows developers to visualize and learn complex ML algorithms and technology, create simple APIs to run that can predict, manage and supply for users in connected homes.

Now, if this is not George Jetson stuff, I do not know what is!

2. The autonomous car is driving faster than most of us think. Some major technology announcements from Ford, Volkwagen, Toyota were made based on connectivity. That is fine for infotainment systems and GPS. The real story is the interest in improving connectivity to enhance the development of autonomous cars. Powertrain, electric battery technologies have leapfrogged the problems of just 5 years ago. Pure electric vehicles can now power up to 1,000 horses, travel in excess of 800 kilometers on a single charge and speed up to 250 kilomters per hours with the speed limiter taken off. 

What the more forward thinking automakers are anticipating is the connected car.

And what better way develop connectivity than through the most obvious front—the audio and navigation systems. 

Throughout the years CES has become its own auto show. And soon there might be an electric car that will actually be launed at CES. Automakers are fast becoming service companies more that product manufacturers. Many like Volkswagen are incorporating ride sharing strategies int their vehicle development. As a result car makers are will become very different companies in the next five to ten years.

3. Transporation Network Systems (TNS) is mobility of the future. Along with autonomous driving, from what I saw at CES, Uber, Lyft, Grab will become the car of the future. 

Uber took big data one step further and launched “Project Metropolis” — a service created by and ran from an internal team. It provides a set of tools that uses the massive pool of data riders deliver to the company’s servers in each ride. At launch timing the program contains data on Washington DC, Sydney and Manila, among other cities. Uber plans to eventually expand the tool to every major city where the company operates.

Mainly intended to help city governments make more informed traffic and transportation decisions, Metropolis will change the way of future mobility as it can even influence how cars should be made by looking at movement and traffic patterns. 

“As Uber drivers move through a city, they’re constantly collecting information,” project manager Jordan Gilbertson told information technology magazine The Verge. 

All data is collected from Uber’s GPS check-in function—expressed in that little pin on the screen to locate passengers and directs where drivers must go to. The check-in function logs in the data in the background in the millions of trips taken every day globally. Each trips provides tiny bits of data but when gathered and analyzed gives Uber valuable traffic data—manifested in for example, travel times for both the whole trip and as it monitors the vehicle moving through the myriad of streets and traffic. The chunks of data within the total trip are paints the pattern for time versus motion resulting in detailed maps and traffic patterns. 

Though not yet for individual use, Uber said that they are generating the reports which they consider extremely valuable to people. 

“There’s no reason not to share it,” Gilbertson told The Verge.
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