Microsoft Populates Skype With Helper-Bots

Your Skype chats could just get a little bit smarter thanks to Microsoft’s new array of assistive helper-bots. These bots were on show at Build 2016, where Microsoft demonstrated how Cortana, as well as a number of third-party ‘bots’ were able to inject information and optional actions into Skype messaging conversations. At the basest level, Cortana was able to highlight the major parts of a conversation, from which a user can select to get more details on the subject.

The bots don’t just add extra context to your existing conversations either, as at any time users will be able to switch over to a private AI chat, where they will be able to converse with Cortana and the other bots.

An example of this system in action would be part of a conversation about an upcoming event. On request, Cortana would be able to add the event to your calendar and obtain relevant locational and other vital information regarding it from the rest of the conversation. From there, the options branch out, a hotel bot may suggest a reservation in a nearby hotel or a social networking bot may remind you to catch up with friends who are in the area.

This may seem crazy and some will have reservations about the privacy of their data in the face of these AI bots, but they are real and Microsoft has already released the first wave of them on Skype for Windows, Android and iOS. The suite of bots currently available is sparse, but Microsoft plans to allow third-party developers to create their own bots for the service and will be releasing a specially designed software development kit to this end.

CarVi to Bring Safety and Smart Features to Any Car

Car safety has come a very long way and modern cars provide all sorts of assistant features that help to keep us and everyone around us safe. As great as that is, older cars lack these features and getting a brand new car just isn’t an option for most people.

So what if you could add that feature to your old car? Or any car for that matter – and even take it with you when you replace the vehicle with a new one, wouldn’t that be great?

A new Indiegogo campaign has launched for just that, and it is called the CarVi. The CarVi has been in the process for quite some time and as such a working project. What’s missing is funding to get the production started and the product into the wild. And that’s what fundraising pages are made for,

The CarVi is very simple, you just mount the tiny device in your windshield and drive a little while to calibrate it. In itself it has a camera built in and then works in conjunction with your Android or iPhone smartphone – using features and sensors from both units to create the best experience.

The CarVi can help you stay in the lane, warn about other drivers switching lane unexpectedly to create possible dangerous situations, front collision danger from driving too close, and a lot more. It can also just be worked as an ordinary dash- cam.

The Indiegogo campaign is currently up to almost 50.000 of the $100.000 pledge goal. There are various levels of pledges available including some early bird offers where you can get the CarVi for $274 plus shipping. Once the early bird specials are gone, the pledge price will rise to $299.

Thanks to Indiegogo for providing us with this information

Images courtesy of CarVi

How Siri Can Help you Locate The Owner of a Lost Phone

These days, the three major mobile operating systems all ship with their own ‘personal assistants’. Windows Phone has Cortana, Android has ‘Ok Google’, and iOS of course has Siri.

The artificial intelligence behind these systems is so complex, that many hidden features are regularly being found by users. Thanks to OS X Dailya new feature of Apple’s Siri has been discovered that could go a long way in helping someone track down the owner of a lost iPhone or iPad.

Simply by asking “Whose phone is this?” or “Who owns this iPhone?”, Siri will give you the contact details of the owner – all from the lock screen, so you don’t need to know the passcode to get this vital information.

The thing is, if you ask “Whose iPhone is this?” or any other similar question that is not identical to the two above, you won’t get that information. It seems that this may not be a feature we’re meant to see yet, as it is not yet currently documented officially by Apple and its poor integration with Siri’s UI suggests that it may well be something for a future software update.

Nonetheless, it’s certainly a thoughtful feature, one that no doubt will be fully integrated as time goes on.

Source: OS X Daily

Jaguar Working on Self-Learning Smart Car Personal Assistant

There have been a lot of talks about smart cars and their ability to make driving a lot safer suing self-driving technologies in order to eliminate human distractions and error from roads. There will even be a time where drivers can even send text messages, video call and browse the internet, but that time is still far away. Until then, Jaguar seems to have designed a piece of tech of its own for the Land Rover to make driving a lot safer, namely the Smart Assistant.

It is said that the Smart Assistant is able to identify the driver of the car based on a smartphone and learns his or her driving style and in-vehicle habits. The information is then ran through an algorithm which keeps track of background information, such as your calendar, traffic conditions and current weather, in order to predict and handle a variety of non-essential tasks. The Smart Assistant even starts before the driver enters the car, adjusting the seat, mirrors and steering wheel based on the individual’s likings.

Once the Smart Assistant learns the driver’s behavior behind the wheel, it can then handle tasks and perform small vehicle adjustments. For example, if a person calls his or her boss each morning, the Smart Assistant is said to ask you if it can initiate a call with your boss. The same goes when running late for work, having the Personal Assistant prompting if you would like to send a text message and notify about you being late.

There are a variety of activities which Jaguar’s Personal Assistant could help you behind the wheel, though the company states that the technology is currently in the works with no known release date planned. An interesting and unique feature present in the Personal Assistant’s design plans is the fact that Jaguar intends to make the tech cloud-based, meaning that if you want to rent a Jaguar when abroad on a business trip, it will still have your personal preferences available and in effect as soon as the car is available to drive.

Thank you Gizmag for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Gizmag

Kingston Launch Web Assistant For Storage & Memory Upgrades

When it comes to working out the specification of your new gaming system or when you’re looking to boost the performance of your existing setup, memory and storage are two of the easiest and most cost-effective ways of getting the most out of what you’ve got. Since the launch of the solid state drive only a few years back, we’ve seen desktop performance rocket up to a whole new level and as the processors and graphics cards progress to new heights, the memory kit is for most of the time forgotten about or underestimated. Whereas selecting the right graphics card for example is pretty easy, selecting the right memory kit for your needs is not as clear cut. When we take every memory kit that is on offer on the market (as well as the SSDs )and throw it all into one basket, the number of hardware combinations and possibilities, as well as price points that there are to choose from is monumental. With such a huge number of products on offer, how are you sure that the kit you’re choosing is the right one for you?

One way of filtering out the select products that would be suitable for your system would be to look around the review sites such as ourselves, where we show you some of the latest performance, mid-range and budget options that there are on the market, giving you an idea of what product you want to be ordering next. Whilst this is all fair and well, we have to be fair and honest and say that not everyone is going to want to go through piles and piles of reviews to see what is best for their needs, either because of the time it takes to read reviews, or because they’re not that technically minded. We therefore see numerous users taking to our forums to ask what would be the best drive or memory kit for them to get for their system for XYZ price bracket, but what if there was an even easier option out there which could guide you through the selection process, showing you only the products which are best suited for your needs; a user with a gaming motherboard would ideally like a gaming memory kit to compliment the performance, whilst a typical home office user may want a budget kit which does what it needs to without burning a hole in the wallet.

Fortunately though Kingston have been busy working away over the last few months to develop a massive database of every motherboard, server, notebook and more; after which they individually select which of their memory kits and SSDs is best suited for that particular users needs with the option on offer to then purchase the hardware directly from Kingston and have it delivered to your door. These selection pages don’t just cover the Windows platform, as Apple systems more commonly than not use very similar desktop components to those used in the rest of the market, we find Kingston offering up a good range of suitable kits for Mac users.

 

With the next generation of motherboards and processors only a short time away now, the time to upgrade is also very close and if you’re not too sure on how to actually do the upgrade, fear not as Kingston have also got you covered. In addition to the massive web database and product selection tools, they also have a library of setup guides and videos on offer which take you through the upgrade process step-by-step, clearing any doubts or worries that you may be doing something wrong. With technology so far advanced compared to where it was a number of years ago, it is actually far easier to upgrade your system than it used to be.

Kingston don’t just supply the retail market with components, they also cover the OEM market, providing a number of manufacturers products for direct use in their systems and to reflect this, Kingston also list the relevant upgrade kits for each of their OEM partners. Here are just a few of Kingston’s partners:

So if you’re a budding enthusiast who wants to know that they are giving their system the very best, or a non-technically minded home user who wants some guidance, head over to Kingston’s Memory and Storage Search Page where you can find the right product and how to get the best out of your system – oh and did I mention that this information and help is TOTALLY FREE? Surely that deserves us giving Kingston a huge thank you to making your tech experience as good as possible.

Apple And Google To Battle Over Personal Assistants

Smartphone manufacturers have been battling over features, specs and design. But now it seems that the battleground is moving towards the personal assistant area, where Siri and Google Now comes into play. According to a report out of the U.K., both Apple and Google are hard at work improving their virtual personal assistants. Both companies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars trying to improve how each of their “assistants” comprehends the human language.

Google Now works differently than its rival Siri, anticipating what information is needed by reading a users emails and looking at their calendar. Google feels it has an advantage in understanding real world language because of the way search results are ranked on the Google search engine. Google Now, which also plays a big part in Google Glass, will also be found on smartwatches, cars, and in the home.

Apple might have felt some pressure from the way that Google Now anticipates information requests. This could explain Apple’s decision to purchase Topsy for $200 million. Topsy looks for patterns among the 500 million tweets that are sent out daily. Nick Halstead, the CEO of Topsy’s U.K. rival DataSift, believes that Apple will use the information delivered by Topsy to improve how Siri responds to requests for information.

Thank you Phonearena for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Giga.de

Windows Phone 8.1 Rumored To Get A Notification Center

Rumors are that Microsoft is preparing to ship Windows Phone 8.1. The new OS, which will apparently be detailed at the company’s BUILD conference in April, will finally add a notification center as well as a Siri-like personal assistant.

Tom Warren from The Verge state that the new notification center will have two views. A “short swipe” from the top will reveal settings and a “long swipe” will reveal a full notification history. The addition of a notification center is long overdue, if not exactly surprising. Last year it came out that what seemed like a huge product oversight in Windows Phone 8 was in fact intentionally left out because Microsoft “ran out of time.”

It is also said that current betas of Windows 8.1 have a built-in personal assistant. Previous rumors suggest that this voice assistant will sound like Cortana, the AI character from Halo. There are also more missing features like the ability to separately control the volume of media playback and your ringtone.

If this is true, the new additions to Windows Phone 8 amount to some significant catch up with the much better Android and iOS alternatives. Unfortunately, they’re pretty late fixes for the glaring absences in the existing Windows Phone product. It seems like we’ll have to wait until BUILD to find out if Microsoft has any get ahead features in waiting.

Thank you Gizmodo for providing us with this information