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MasterCard Launches Developer’s Platform For App Creation

September 29, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

mastercard-logo-150x150Mastercard has unveiled an ambitious open Mastercard Developers platform to help third-party developers easily create commerce-related apps and services.

Developers will be able to use six different coding languages to work with 25 different Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) in payment, data, security and experimental areas. The experimental category includes APIs for bot commerce such as chatbots and virtual reality and augmented reality devices.

In one example of how a bot commerce API could be rolled out in an actual setting, Mastercard and Pizza Hut Asia are piloting a commerce application with Pepper the humanoid robot, who acts as a restaurant waiter capable of taking orders, serving food and collecting payment at the table.

Pepper is a humanoid robot developed by a subsidiary of Softbank Group of Japan.

Mastercard’s role in the Pepper pilot is the commerce element through MasterPass, a service that allows secure payments across various devices. Restaurants could soon deploy the waiter robots in Japan because of a serious labor shortage in restaurants there, said Oran Cummins, senior vice president for APIs at MasterCard.

MasterCard is also experimenting with blockchain, a distributed database first implemented in 2009 as the underpinning of bitcoin. Blockchain can be used as a public ledger to automatically maintain a continuously-growing list of records.

“It’s very much exploratory,” Cummins said in an interview. “We’ve done a lot of work in blockchain and we’ve been experimenting with a number of things in exposing APIs and blockchain functionality.”

It isn’t clear when blockchain will be part of the Mastercard Developers platform, however.

The platform is made up of Software Developer Kits (SDKs), developer tools and sample code for each of the 25 APIs. The code provided is in Java, Javascript, C#, Ruby, Python and Node.js.

Mastercard first started offering third-party developer APIs six years ago, and has seen a 400% increase in API usage in 2016. With the growing interest from tens of thousands of individual developers and those inside large companies globally, Mastercard decided to expand the program to provide open APIs for all of its products.

 

Nissan, Renault Team Up To Purchase French Mobility App Developer

September 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

nissan-and-renault-150x150Renault SA  and Nissan Motor Co announced that they will acquire French software development company Sylpheo as they compete with global automakers and tech firms to develop new services including ride hailing and car sharing.

The French and Japanese automakers said that the acquisition, under which they would absorb Sylpheo’s 40 engineers and consultants, would boost their software development and cloud engineering expertise.

“The Sylpheo team of software developers and cloud engineers joining the Alliance will have a unique opportunity to work on our next generation of connected cars and other advanced technologies,” said Ogi Redzic, Renault-Nissan’s senior vice president of Connected Vehicles and Mobility Services.

“They will be playing a critical role in this new era of tremendous change for the global auto industry.”

Automakers from Toyota Motor Corp to General Motors have been investing in software firms and mobility start-ups to position themselves for the rise of autonomous driving, ride-sharing and other connected services which threaten the traditional vehicle ownership model that has dominated the past century.

Sylpheo will develop the applications for the alliance’s connected car service platform, a Renault spokeswoman said. She said the acquisition was part of the alliance’s recruitment push to hire 300 technology experts to better compete in the fast-growing mobility services sector.

These services will be integrated with autonomous driving technologies. In July, Nissan launched a suite of semi-autonomous driving functions in one of its Japanese minivan models which enables the vehicle to drive on single lane motorways and navigate congestion.

The two companies plan to launch more than 10 vehicles with autonomous drive technology by 2020. Nissan is aiming to develop autonomous multiple-lane driving functions, including lane changes, by 2018, and functions for full urban driving, including intersection turns, by 2020.

UPS Plans To Expand 3D Printing Operations

September 19, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

ups-logo-150x150United Parcel Service plans to grow its 3D printing service by expanding to Asia and Europe, the U.S. shipping company has told Reuters, in a bid to fully embrace and get ahead of a trend that threatens to eat away a small but lucrative part of its business.

Aside from its main package delivery service, UPS gets an undisclosed portion of its revenue from storing and shipping parts for manufacturers. If those customers were to switch to 3D printing their own parts, that business would face a drastic reduction.

To counter that threat, UPS has chosen to get on board the 3D revolution, and is now looking to offer a service in which UPS will print out plastic parts – anything from nozzles to brackets to prototype soap dispensers or multi-faceted moving parts – around the world and deliver them.

“3D printing is a great opportunity for us, but it’s also a threat,” Alan Amling, UPS vice president for corporate strategy, told Reuters.

The dynamic – welcoming rather than fighting a threatening new technology – is not unlike automakers such as Toyota Motor Corp and Volkswagen AG teaming up with ride-hailing services Uber and Gett, respectively.

Amling said UPS is looking at either Singapore or Japan for an Asian 3D printing factory. He did not say where the company might open a European facility, though UPS’s operational hub in Europe is in Cologne, Germany.

UPS has already got into the business in its home market. In May, it launched a U.S.-based 3D printing service with Fast Radius, a 3D printing company based outside Atlanta, where UPS is headquartered. UPS bought an unspecified stake in Fast Radius, which has a 3D printing factory at UPS’s Louisville, Kentucky, hub.

There are also now 3D printers at 60 UPS stores in the United States that print parts using industrial grade thermoplastics. Customers can upload images for printing at the Fast Radius factory or at one of those UPS stores and have the printed products shipped to any location.

Can Robots Become Criminals?

September 13, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Analyst have been shuffling their electronic tarot cards and reached the conclusion that by 2040 the people committing the most crimes will be robots.

Tracey Follows from The Future Laboratory, which helps businesses plan for the future through its research and consultancy experts, has been looking at the matter after more and more robots could be used in industries replacing humans on jobs.

Follows, chief strategy and innovation officer, said that Futurists have been forecasting a sharp rise in lone-wolf terror attacks for years.

“But once robots can be hacked to become suicide-bombing machines, lone-robot attacks could become rife too,” she warned.

Follows is not really a sci-fi writer. Her work in telecoms, technology, retail and media  has helped to shape the future strategies of brands such as T-Mobile, BT, O2, EasyJet and John Lewis.

She said that artificial intelligence and machine-learning could let robots  self-program criminal activity.

“My forecast would be that by 2040 more crime will be committed by machines than by humans,” she commented.

Experts have been warning that as more and more robots replace humans in jobs the future could see problems when their programs are hacked or they go rogue. Now it seems that even when you are being mugged, the robot could be the perpetrator.

Courtesy-Fud

SoftBank To Acquire ARM For $32 Billion

July 19, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Japan’s SoftBank will acquire UK chip design company ARM Holdings to take advantage of growing demand for processors and other technologies for the internet of things and mobile markets.

SoftBank is paying £24.3 billion ($32 billion) in cash for the chip company that licenses its designs to a large number of chip suppliers to smartphone makers and to the emerging IoT market.

The Japanese company will retain ARM’s headquarters in Cambridge and plans to double the number of employees in the U.K. over the next five years, when it will also increase the company’s headcount outside the U.K.

ARM, with 4,064 employees,  will be an independent business within SoftBank, which will pay for the acquisition from existing cash resources and a loan. SoftBank said it intends to retain the current ARM organization including the existing senior management team, brand, and partnership-based business model and culture.

SoftBank has invested in a number of media and technology companies, including Internet retailer Snapdeal in India and ride-hailing app company Didi Chuxing in China. It also acquired Sprint Nextel in 2013.

The acquisition of ARM would place the company in a market where it would be an upstream supplier to some of the biggest names in the tech industry as licensees of ARM’s designs like Qualcomm gear up to supply chips to the connected devices market.

“ARM will be an excellent strategic fit within the SoftBank group as we invest to capture the very significant opportunities provided by the ‘Internet of Things,'” said SoftBank chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son in a statement Monday.

 

 

 

Nissan Launches New Semi-autonomous Driving Features

July 14, 2016 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Nissan Motor Co Ltd had unveiled a suite of semi-autonomous driving functions, stressing they were intended to assist and not replace drivers, just two weeks after similar technology in another maker’s car was involved in a fatal crash.

Japan’s second-ranked carmaker by vehicle sales said its ProPilot can drive a vehicle on single-lane motorways and navigate congestion. It said the feature will first appear on a Serena minivan model on sale in Japan from next month.

As global automakers race to develop self-driving cars, the safety of current automated systems was called into question by U.S. investigators saying a driver died in a crash while the autopilot of his Tesla Motors Inc Model S was engaged.

While Nissan declined to comment directly on that incident, Executive Vice President Hideyuki Sakamoto said it was important drivers did not overestimate the purpose and capabilities of automated driving functions.

“These functions are meant to support drivers, and are not meant as self-driving capabilities” which let drivers take their eyes off the road, he said. “These are two very different things.”

Pushing a button on the steering wheel activates ProPilot, which keeps the vehicle a fixed distance from the car in front without requiring the driver to control the steering, accelerator or brake.

Like Tesla’s similar technology, ProPilot requires drivers to keep their hands on the wheel. A warning sign flashes if the wheel is released for more than around four seconds, and an alarm sounds after 10 seconds.

General Manager Tetsuya Iijima at Nissan’s Advanced Technology Development department said it was up to automakers to educate drivers about the capability of automated driving functions to prevent misuse that could lead to accidents.

“Naturally, there are limitations to the system, and our job is to communicate what those limitations are,” he told reporters.

With ProPilot, Nissan joins many automakers including Tesla, BMW and Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz in marketing adaptive cruise control and traffic jam assistance.

Nissan will sell its ProPilot-equipped Serena for under 3 million yen ($28,758), making it one of few mid-priced vehicles with autopilot features more common among luxury cars.

The automaker also plans to add ProPilot to Qashqai sport utility vehicle crossover models in coming months, and introduce the feature in the United States and China.

 

Is Nintendo Delaying Its Virtual Reality Plans?

July 6, 2016 by  
Filed under Gaming

Nintendo is keeping fairly quiet about its VR plans, although a system is clearly on the drawing board.
The rumor mill suggests that the former playing card maker is determined to fix a problem which has dogged other VR machines on the market. Basically after you have worn a headset for half-an-hour you get tired and a bit sick.

Nintendo’s acting representative director Shigeru Miyamoto told shareholders that the company was “researching VR” – but didn’t want to show off the NX at E3 as they wanted to “avoid imitators.”

The research appears to be focused on coming up with a way that the headsets can be deeply immersive without turning the player into Linda Blair from the Exorcist. But it is clear that Nintendo does want to incorporate VR into its hardware once more.

It must think that it is likely to do better now than when it tried to in 1995 to run the Virtual Boy.

Apparently it will have a machine ready to show off in March next year. If it manages to avoid the VR fatigue then it might be onto a winner.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Messaging App Line To Set IPO Price After Delay

June 28, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Japanese messaging app firm Line Corp has held off on setting a tentative price range for its initial public offering (IPO) by one day, until Tuesday, the company said in a regulatory filing, citing the “market environment”.

The IPO price range was originally scheduled to be announced on Monday. Line still plans to list in New York on July 14 and in Tokyo the following day, the filing showed.

On Friday, the S&P 500 fell 3.6 percent, its biggest one-day drop in 10 months, and Japan’s broad Topix index slid 7 percent after Britain voted to exit the European Union.

The equity market in Japan recovered somewhat on Monday as the Topix closed up 1.8 percent, but the delay will allow the company to assess the market in New York and London on Monday before setting the tentative price range, a Line spokesman told Reuters.

Earlier this month, the company announced plans to sell 35 million new shares in an IPO, which would raise 98 billion yen ($963 million) at its initial reference price of 2,800 yen per share.

Line’s listing will go ahead according to its planned schedule, the company said on Friday.

Companies around the world are wrestling with the aftermath of the Brexit vote, which is likely to delay or disrupt upcoming takeovers and initial public offerings. Companies with direct exposure to the British economy are more likely to see their deals scuppered compared with those who are just caught up in global market volatility.

Line has little direct exposure to Britain or Europe. Its main markets are Japan, Indonesia, Taiwan and Thailand.

Line delayed its IPO by two years, buying time to fix weaknesses in weak financial reporting controls, bolster staffing and develop its business plan. But in doing so, it left billions of dollars on the table as its valuation shriveled.

 

Intel And Nokia Joining Forces

June 28, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Nokia is teaming up with Intel to make its carrier-grade AirFrame Data Center Solution hardware available for an Open Platform Network Functions Virtualization (OPNFV) Lab.

Basically this means that the hardware can be used by the OPNFV collaborative open source community to accelerate the delivery of cloud-enabled networks and applications.

Nokia said the OPNFV Lab will be a testbed for NFV developers and accelerates the introduction of commercial open source NFV products and services. Developers can test carrier-grade NFV applications for performance and availability.

Nokia is making its AirFrame Data Center Solution available as a public OPNFV Lab with the support of Intel, which is providing Intel Xeon processors and solid state drives to give communications service providers the advantage of testing OPNFV projects on the latest and greatest server and storage technologies.

The Nokia AirFrame Data Center Solution is 5G-ready and Nokia said it was the first to combine the benefits of cloud computing technologies to meet the stringent requirements of the telco world. It’s capable of delivering ultra-low latency and supporting the kinds of massive data processing requirements that will be required in 5G.

Morgan Richomme, NFV network architect for Innovative Services at Orange Labs, OPNFV Functest PTL, in a release. “NFV interoperability testing is challenging, so the more labs we have, the better it will be collectively for the industry.”

AT&T has officially added Nokia to its list of 5G lab partners working to define 5G features and capabilities. It’s also working with Intel and Ericsson.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Interest Grows In Collaborative Robots

June 27, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Robots that work as assistants in unison with people are set to upend the world of industrial robotics by putting automation within reach of many small and medium-sized companies for the first time, according to industry experts.

Collaborative robots, or “cobots”, tend to be inexpensive, easy to use and safe to be around. They can easily be adapted to new tasks, making them well-suited to small-batch manufacturing and ever-shortening product cycles.

Cobots can typically lift loads of up 10 kilograms (22 lb) and can be small enough to put on top of a workbench. They can help with repetitive tasks like picking and placing, packaging or gluing and welding.

Some can repeat a task after being guided once through the process by a worker and recording it. The price of a cobot can be as little as $10,000, although typically they cost two to three times that.

The global cobot market is set to grow from $116 million last year to $11.5 billion by 2025, capital goods analysts at Barclays estimate. That would be roughly equal to the size of the entire industrial robotics market today.

“By 2020 it will be a game-changer,” said Stefan Lampa, head of robotics of Germany’s Kuka, during a panel discussion organized by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) at the Automatica trade fair in Munich.

Growth in industrial robot unit sales slowed to 12 percent last year from 29 percent in 2014, the IFR said on Wednesday, weighed by a sharp fall in top buyer China.

The world’s top industrial robot makers – Japan’s Fanuc and Yaskawa, Swiss ABB and Kuka – all have collaborative robots on the market, although sales are not yet significant for them.

But the market leader and pioneer is Denmark’s Universal Robots, a start-up that sold its first cobot in 2009 and was acquired by U.S. automatic test equipment maker Teradyne for $285 million last year.

 

 

Emojis Coming To The Big Screen

June 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Emojis have become an important and essential communication tool for most people using any messaging application, so naturally, now there’s a movie coming.

Sony Pictures Animation has announced that it will produce an animated movie about “the secret world of our phones and the beloved characters that have become daily necessities in global interpersonal communication.”

“Emojimovie: Express Yourself” is due in August 2017. It will be written by Eric Siegel and Anthony Leondis and directed by Leondis. He previously wrote and directed “Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch” and “Igor.”

Deadline had earlier reported that Sony beat out two other movie studios bidding for the movie, paying “near seven figures” for the title.

So what emojis might make the cut and appear in the movie? The smiley seems the likely star and is the most-used emoji in every country except France, according to a SwiftKey study published in 2015. In France, the heart emoji is the favorite.

Emojis first appeared on cell phones in 1999 when NTT DoCoMo launched its i-Mode wireless Internet service in Japan. Since then, they have spread worldwide and are available on all modern smartphones, messaging systems and computers.

Emojis’ Japanese roots explain some of the stranger characters, which might mean little to people in the West but related to some important cultural festivals, food or other aspects of Japanese life.

 

 

 

Toyota To Build Artificial Intelligence-based Driving Systems

June 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Toyota Motor Corp is focusing developing in the next five years driver assistance systems that integrate artificial intelligence (AI) to improve vehicle safety, the head of its advanced research division said.

Gill Pratt, CEO of recently set up Toyota Research Institute (TRI), the Japanese automaker’s research and development company that focuses on AI, said it aims to improve car safety by enabling vehicles to anticipate and avoid potential accident situations.

Toyota has said the institute will spend $1 billion over the next five years, as competition to develop self-driving cars intensifies.

Earlier this month, home rival Honda Motor Co said it was setting up a new research body which would focus on artificial intelligence, joining other global automakers which are investing in robotics research, including Ford and Volkswagen AG.

“Some of the things that are in car safety, which is a near-term priority, I’m very confident that we will have some advances come out during the next five years,” Pratt told reporters late last week in comments embargoed for Monday.

The concept of allowing vehicles to think, act and take some control from drivers to perform evasive maneuvers forms a key platform of Toyota’s efforts to produce a car which can drive automatically on highways by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

While currently driver assistance systems largely use image sensors to avoid obstacles including vehicles and pedestrians within the car’s lane, Pratt said TRI was looking at AI solutions to enable “the car to be evasive beyond the one lane”.

“The intelligence of the car would figure out a plan for evasive action … Essentially (it would) be like a guardian angel, pushing on the accelerators, pushing on the steering wheel, pushing on the brake in parallel with you.”

As Japanese automakers race against technology companies to develop automated vehicles, they are also grappling with a rapidly graying society, which puts future demand for private vehicle ownership at risk.

Pratt said he saw the possibility that Toyota may one day become a maker of robots to help the elderly.

Asked of the potential for Toyota to produce robots for use in the home, he said: “That’s part of what we’re exploring at TRI.”

Pratt declined to comment on a media report earlier this month that Toyota is in talks with Google’s parent company Alphabet to acquire Boston Dynamics and Schafts, both of which are robotics divisions of the technology company.

 

Samsung SDI Still Pursuing Tesla To Provide Electric Car Batteries

June 8, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Samsung SDI is making progress in its discussions with Tesla Motors to provide batteries for the U.S. automaker’s Model 3 electric car as well as its energy storage products, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

Shares in the Samsung SDI surged to trade 6 percent higher in early afternoon trade, beating the wider market’s 1.1 percent gain.

Tesla, which currently procures its batteries from Japan’s Panasonic Corp, is likely to add Samsung SDI as a supplier should sales exceed expectations, the source said, although he declined to specify what level of sales would clinch a deal for the South Korean company.

Citing “tremendous demand,” Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk said in April that the automaker planned to boost total vehicle production to 500,000 in 2018 – two years earlier than its original target. Suppliers have said the goal will be difficult to achieve.

Tesla has taken 373,000 orders for its Model 3 – which has a starting price of $35,000, about half its Model S – and has said it would begin customer deliveries in late 2017.

“It remains to be seen whether the orders will translate into actual sales,” the source said. The source declined to be identified as the discussions were confidential.

A Samsung SDI spokesman declined to comment.

 

Honda Gives Sneak Preview Of Self-driving Car

June 3, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Honda Motor Co is showing off its self-driving automobile prototypes, saying it was already on its way to offering semi-autonomous safety functions to the mass market.

The Japanese automaker has been less vocal about its plans for self-driving cars than larger rivals like Toyota and General Motors, which in recent months have shown off major research and development projects and big-ticket acquisitions.

But under the radar, Honda has been building semi-autonomous functionality, including forward-collision warning, lane- departure warning and lane-keeping assist. These features are already being rolled out in Honda’s Acuras and the Civic model year 2016, which costs about $22,000.

“We under-promise and over-deliver as a promise, as a company. There are a lot of promises talked about by a lot of companies,” said Jim Keller, chief engineer for Honda Research and Development Americas, referring to the pervasive industry hype.

With the current roll-out of semi-autonomous functions, which it says will pave the way for full autonomy on highways by 2020, Honda says it differs from rivals, whose self-driving efforts have centered on their luxury models.

“This is a unique differentiator for Honda … who is committed to the concept of safety for everyone,” said Keller. “Unless we democratize it across our lineup it will be just a niche.”

Honda showed off two prototypes it has used in testing at the GoMentum Station, a 5,000-acre former naval munitions zone that features 20 miles of paved roadway, tunnels and other infrastructure ideal for testing.

On Wednesday, reporters saw the cars accelerate, stop and cede the way for pedestrians, and turn in autonomous mode.

The site in Concord, California, about 30 miles northeast of San Francisco, hopes to lure other carmakers to test autonomous cars there. Besides Honda, the French maker of driverless shuttles, Easy Mile, also tests there.

The auto industry has been marked by a series of high-profile investments and acquisitions related to autonomous driving in recent months. General Motors in January bought autonomous vehicle technology start-up Cruise Automation for a reported $1 billion, while Toyota has committed to spending $1 billion over five years to develop technologies behind the self-driving car.

 

 

Hyundai Motor’s Next-Gen Fuel-Cell Electric Car Launching In 2018

May 19, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Hyundai Motor Co aims to launch its next-generation fuel-cell electric vehicle in early 2018, Vice Chairman Yang Woong-chul said, to better compete with Japanese rivals and meet tougher emissions rules.

Hyundai rolled out the world’s first mass-produced fuel cell vehicle in 2013, dubbed the Tucson Fuel Cell, but sales have trailed expectations due in part to a lack of refueling stations and a high price tag.

For its new fuel cell vehicle, the automaker is set to double the driving range to about 800 kilometers (497 miles), the Electronic Times reported in January.

The new model will be a sport utility vehicle (SUV), in contrast to the fuel cell sedans of Toyota Motor Corp and Honda Motor Co Ltd, the South Korean newspaper reported citing a high-ranking Hyundai official.

The automaker declined to comment on details of the new fuel cell vehicle when contacted by Reuters. Vice Chairman Yang was speaking on Wednesday during a ministerial tour of a Hyundai research and development center.

Hyundai, which has long trumpeted fuel-cell vehicles – those powered by electricity generated using hydrogen and oxygen – also plans to launch its first battery-powered car later this year.

 

 

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