Featured Article : What Was Fun At CES?

Following the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week, we take a look at some of the more novel and fun gadgets (and claims from the show) and what lessons businesses can take away from this year’s event.

CES

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which this year took place in Las Vegas (from January 9th to 12th) once again acted as a global stage for tech innovation and a glimpse of things to come. It’s a place where industry leaders, startups, and tech enthusiasts converge to showcase and witness the latest advancements and future trends in technology and which sets the tone for the tech industry each year. Among the more ‘serious’ products, however, the show features many fun/novel and more left-field gadgets and claims. Here’s some standout examples of these from CES 2024.

LG’s Smart Home AI Agent. This AI device (a kind of robotic home manager) transcends traditional smart home functions. It’s capable of engaging in meaningful conversations, providing reminders for medication, and even contacting emergency services if needed, showcasing a new level of AI integration in home management. The Smart Home AI Agent is an example of a product that fits LG’s vision of a “zero-labour home”, something that many of us can only dream about!

For those who want to keep their conversations secret, how about Skyted’s Mobility Privacy Mask? This innovative gadget is essentially a Bluetooth-enabled face mask yet it’s designed to absorb voice frequencies, thereby ensuring private conversations in public spaces. The potential applications for the device highlighted by the company include conversations in public spaces, while travelling (for frequent travellers or regular commuters), plus those working in aeroplanes, in and in offices or call centres. It’s an interesting idea which highlights a growing demand for privacy in our increasingly connected world.

GlüxKind’s AI-powered Stroller (Pram), Ella. This gadget is a step forward (or a roll forward) in making the life of modern, connected parents that bit easier. It’s a pram that offers hands-free operation, automatic stopping on inclines, and a gentle rocking feature for the baby. Its built-in white noise machine adds another layer of innovation, showcasing how parenting can be assisted by smart technology.

The WeHead GPT Edition is an AI-powered head with a face that gives ChatGPT a physical form, providing a unique interactive experience. Some have criticised the face for appearing to be a little emotionless when it talks. It’s been designed for brainstorming and idea generation, and it represents an intriguing (some have said creepy) blend of virtual and physical AI interfaces.

Rabbit’s R1 Pocket AI Assistant. Developed by Teenage Engineering, this ($200) handheld AI assistant with a 2.88-inch touchscreen navigates smartphone apps on command, simplifying tasks like ordering food or managing apps. It operates on a language action model, pushing the boundaries of how we interact with our digital devices.

French startup MolluSCAN’s Smart Molluscs is a novel, environmentally-focused technology that uses sensors literally upon molluscs to monitor water quality and pollution. It represents a highly innovative approach to environmental monitoring, combining biology with technology.

For those who remember how some TVs used to fold into cabinets and be disguised as home furniture, SEED’s N1 Folding TV takes things quite a few steps further. This innovative TV transitions itself from a large 137-inch screen to a sleek sculpture. The seamless MicroLED panels provide an uninterrupted viewing experience, reflecting the fusion of technology and art.

On the subject of TVs, how about one you can’t see at all? Samsung’s Transparent TV can blend in with the background of your room when not in use, so it looks like a transparent piece of glass in a frame! The design uses Micro LED technology which Samsung says makes “the line between content and reality virtually indistinguishable.”

In the health industry, ADAM-X by Medical-X is essentially a robot patient that simulates a wide range of medical scenarios and reacts how a live patient would react, providing real-time feedback to trainees. It also has simulated bodily fluids. This advanced CPR dummy is designed for medical training and is a good example of how technology is enhancing medical training with lifelike simulations.

Again, in the health domain, the BMind AI-Powered Smart Mirror by Baracoda is a smart mirror that acts as a mental wellness health companion. For example, this mirror not only reflects your image but also gauges your mood using AI. It can engage in conversations, provide meditation exercises, and even offers light therapy, marking a new era in personal wellness technology.

The Clicks Technology’s BlackBerry-style iPhone Keyboard attachment transforms an iPhone into a device reminiscent of the BlackBerry era. It provides a tactile typing experience while liberating screen space, blending nostalgia with modern smartphone functionality.

Sound Drive’s Dynamic Sound Mixing, created by Will.i.am’s startup, is a system that adjusts your car’s music based on your driving speed and conditions. It dynamically mixes the music, adding or dropping lyrics as needed, to match the energy of your drive.

How about having a conversation with your bathroom furniture? A step too far? Not in the case of Kohler’s PureWash E930 Bidet Seat which features voice command capabilities. It allows users to control various functions such as activating the spray or dryer, or using its self-cleaning UV feature, all through voice commands with Alexa or Google Assistant. Just be careful not to say the wrong thing at the wrong time!

One novel piece of tech for pets presented at CES this year was the ‘Flappie,’ the AI-powered cat flap, described as “world’s most intelligent” cat flap.  Flappie uses cameras and AI to prevent unwanted visitors from following your pet indoors. It’s designed to recognise your cat and distinguish it from other animals, ensuring that only your pet has access. This product reflects the increasing use of AI in everyday household items, offering convenience and problem-solving in unexpected areas.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

It seems that CES 2024 has demonstrated how technology is becoming increasingly intertwined with every aspect of our lives. From smart-home advancements to groundbreaking developments in environmental monitoring and healthcare, even the more novel tech innovations offer a glimpse into a future where technology enhances and simplifies our daily experiences.

For UK businesses, these trends underscore the importance of embracing innovation, focusing on user experience, and exploring eco-friendly technologies. They also highlight how the integration of AI is changing everything and opening up so many more opportunities and avenues for product innovation and enhancement. The gadgets and AI advancements from CES 2024, therefore, not only reflect the current state of technology but also offer a roadmap for future developments. UK businesses can learn from these innovations to identify new opportunities, meet emerging consumer needs, and stay competitive in a rapidly evolving global tech landscape.

Although this selection focuses on the more novel and unusual gadgets, the key general takeaway from CES 2024 could be that the future is not just about technology for its own sake, but technology that enriches, simplifies, and adds value to our everyday lives.

Tech News : Autumn Statement Suggests IT Spending Boost

The announcement of measures intended to boost investment in innovation and technology in UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement could mean increased spending on IT and AI.

Measures To Boost The Tech Sector

The UK Chancellor’s Autumn Statement introduced a range of measures aimed at boosting the tech sector, with potentially significant implications for tech spending and investment in innovation. Some tech commentators have suggested that this could mean that private-sector IT buyers will see a long-term boost. Here we take a look at how the measures announced could affect tech spending, their potential overall impact, and any negative effects they might have.

Positive Impacts on Tech Spending 

Some of the key announcements in the Autumn Statement that could have a positive effect on tech spending include :

– A permanent full expensing policy. Mr Hunt’s decision to make the full expensing policy permanent allows private sector IT buyers to write off the cost of IT equipment against tax. This policy, therefore, looks likely to encourage more investment in IT infrastructure, as companies can deduct these expenses from taxable profits.

– Enhanced R&D tax credits. The merger of the R&D Expenditure Credit and SME schemes from April 2024 will make more companies eligible for claims supporting innovation. It’s thought that around 5,000 additional small businesses may benefit, thereby helping to foster a more innovative environment in the UK tech sector.

– Investment in AI and quantum technologies. The government’s commitment of £500 million over two years to establish additional ‘compute innovation centres’ and the funding being part of a larger £1.5 billion investment is intended to enhance the UK’s capabilities in AI. The Statement also outlined five quantum missions as part of the ‘National Quantum Strategy.’ These missions focus on establishing advanced quantum computing capabilities and networks and incorporating quantum technologies in various sectors such as healthcare, transportation, and defence by 2030 and 2035. One key benefit of quantum computing being made available to healthcare could of course be breakthroughs in areas like drug discovery. Thinking back to the pandemic, many peopel may remember how quantum computing was something that was being used to help speed the way to developing effective vaccines.

– Skills development Initiatives. It’s long been known that the UK has a tech skills gap which is something that threatens to hamper its ambition to become an international technology superpower. Therefore, a £50 million investment to pilot ways to increase apprenticeships in key growth sectors (including engineering) aligns with the need for a skilled workforce to sustain tech advancements. Mr Hunt also announced three more investment zones (on top of the 12 announced in March) in order to boost advanced manufacturing in the West Midlands, East Midlands, and Greater Manchester.

– Support for clean energy and infrastructure. The outlined efforts to cut grid access delays and provide financial incentives for clean energy businesses will likely accelerate the UK’s transition to a low-carbon economy, benefiting green tech initiatives. For example, a £960m Green Industries Growth Accelerator fund may help to support emerging technologies in clean energy and the transition to net-zero.

Not All Positive 

Some of the Autumn Statement announcements, however, may not be such good news for the UK’s tech sector. For example, some of the potential challenges and negative effects include:

– Negative economic forecasts and tight public spending: Despite some of the ambitious measures announced, their success is essentially contingent on economic forecasts, which are currently revised downwards. A significant squeeze on public spending due to inflation may also hamper the plans for digital transformation, especially if budget constraints affect public sector investments.

– Implementation and collaboration needs. The effectiveness of the many potentially positive measures announced depends on the government’s ability to implement them quickly and efficiently. Also, government collaboration with the tech sector is crucial to ensure these policies translate into tangible growth and innovation. For example, the government will need to work alongside tech companies, startups, and industry experts to understand their needs, address potential challenges, and ensure that the policies are actually practical and beneficial.

– A reliance on estimates and uncertainties. Some reforms, like those to the energy grid and pension and capital market reforms, are unfortunately based on estimates that may not actually materialise as expected. If these projections fall short, it could limit the overall impact of the statement’s measures on tech investment and growth.

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

The Autumn Statement’s initiatives offer a promising landscape for businesses beyond just IT buyers, possibly signalling a transformative shift in the UK’s approach to technological advancement and innovation. The decision to make full expensing permanent, coupled with enhanced R&D tax credits, may help present a financially viable path for businesses across various sectors to invest more boldly in new technology and innovation projects. This change not only eases the financial burden of such investments but may also go some way to encouraging a culture of continuous innovation.

The substantial investments in AI, quantum computing, and compute infrastructure could open up new avenues for businesses to access and leverage advanced technologies. These technologies, for example, have the potential to revolutionise product development and operational efficiency across a wide range of industries. As a result, organisations can look forward to not only improved business-processes but also the possibility of developing groundbreaking new products and services.

The focus on developing much-needed tech skills in the UK workforce through apprenticeships and training initiatives is another critical aspect. This approach could help give UK businesses access to employees equipped with the necessary skills to navigate and contribute to an increasingly complex technological landscape. This is particularly crucial at a time when technology is evolving rapidly, and the demand for skilled professionals is at an all-time high.

Businesses with a focus on green technologies or those looking to transition to more sustainable practices may get support through initiatives aimed at reducing grid access delays and promoting clean energy. This not only aligns with global trends toward sustainability but also offers a competitive edge to businesses that prioritise environmental responsibility.

However, businesses in what are challenging economic times are likely to see the announcements in the broader economic context. The success of these measures is not guaranteed and is contingent upon effective implementation amidst economic uncertainties and potential public spending constraints. Therefore, businesses need to stay informed and agile, ready to adapt to changing regulations and economic conditions.

Looking on the bright side, this year’s Autumn Statement generally appears to present a multifaceted opportunity for businesses to grow, innovate, and adapt in a rapidly evolving technological environment. If UK businesses can capitalise on the initiatives announced and navigate the associated challenges, they may be better positioned to make the most of new technologies like AI.

Featured Article : OpenAI’s CEO Sam Altman Fired (But Will Return)

Following the shock announcement that the boss of OpenAI (which created ChatGPT) has been quickly ousted by the board and replaced by an interim CEO, we look at what happened, why, and what may be next.

Ousted 

38-year-old Sam Altman, who helped launch OpenAI back in 2015, firstly as a non-profit before its restructuring and investment from Microsoft, has become widely known as the face of OpenAI’s incredible rise. However, it’s been reported that following some video conference calls with OpenAI’s board of 6 members, Mr Altman was removed from his role as CEO, and from the board of directors. Also, OpenAI’s co-founder, Greg Brockman, was removed from his position as chairman of the board of directors, after which he resigned from the company. Both men were reportedly shocked by the speed of their dismissal.

Why? 

The reason given in a statement by OpenAI for removing Mr Altman was: “Mr. Altman’s departure follows a deliberative review process by the board, which concluded that he was not consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities. The board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI.” 

The company also said: “We are grateful for Sam’s many contributions to the founding and growth of OpenAI. At the same time, we believe new leadership is necessary as we move forward.” 

Sam Altman Says … 

Mr Altman, who since the introduction of ChatGPT and his many public appearances (most recently at the UK’s AI Safety Summit), interviews, and statements, many people see as the generally well-liked, public face of AI, has not publicly elaborated on what he may not have been candid about.

He commented on Elon Musk’s X platform (Musk was one of the founding co-chairs of OpenAI) that: “I loved my time at OpenAI. it was transformative for me personally, and hopefully the world a little bit. most of all I loved working with such talented people. Will have more to say about what’s next later.” 

Intriguingly, there were also reports at the time that Mr Altman and Mr Brockman may have been willing to return if the board members who ousted Altman stepped down – chief scientist Ilya Sutskever has been singled out in some reports as person who led the move to oust Altman.

Theories  

The sudden nature of the sacking and the vagueness of OpenAI’s statement, plus some of the events afterwards have led to speculation by many commentators about the real cause/reason for ousting Mr Altman. Leading theories include.

Mr Altman may have either told the board about something they didn’t like, not told something important (and perhaps been caught out), or may have been outed about something in comments made by other parties. Although this is the board’s version, no clear evidence has been made public. However, just prior to his ousting, in TV interviews, Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella is reported to say that whether Altman and OpenAI staffers would become Microsoft employees was “for the OpenAI board and management and employees to choose” and that Microsoft expected governance changes at OpenAI. He’s also quoted as saying that the partnership between Microsoft and OpenAI “depends on the people at OpenAI staying there or coming to Microsoft, so I’m open to both options.”

It’s also been reported that two senior OpenAI researchers had resigned and that they (and possibly hundreds of OpenAI employees) may join Microsoft, or that Altman may have been planning to start a new company with the open OpenAI employees who’d already left (which the board may have discovered).

Also, shortly after the whole indecent, Microsoft announced that it had hired Altman and Brockman to launch a new advanced-AI research team with Altman as CEO, which may indicate that Altman had already been in talks with Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella about it, which may have been discovered by OpenAI’s board.

As hinted at in the board’s statement, i.e. the part about “OpenAI was deliberately structured to advance our mission: to ensure that artificial general intelligence benefits all humanity,” that there was an unresolved issue over bad feelings that the company had strayed from its initial ‘non-profit’ status. Some commentators have pointed to Elon Musk taking this view and his apparent silence over Altman’s ousting as possible evidence of this.

Another possible reason for ousting Altman is a board power struggle. Evidence that this may be the case includes:

– Mr Altman and Mr Brockman saying they’d be wiling to return if board members who ousted Altman stepped down.

– Following his sacking, OpenAI investors trying to get Altman reinstated.

– Altman and leading shareholders in OpenAI (Microsoft and Thrive Capital) reportedly wanting the entire board to be replaced.

– Reported huge support for Altman among employees.

Interim CEOs 

Shortly after Altman’s ousting, OpenAI replaced him with two interim CEOs within a short space of time. These were/are:

– Firstly, OpenAI’s CTO Mira Murati. With previous experience in working at Goldman Sachs, Zodiac Aerospace, Tesla, and Leap Motion, Murati was seen as a strong leader who sees multimodal models as he future of the company’s AI.

– Secondly (the current interim CEO) is Emmett Shear, the former CEO of game streaming platform Twitch. Mr Shear said on X about his appointment: “It’s clear that the process and communications around Sam’s removal has been handled very badly, which has seriously damaged our trust,” adding that: “I took this job because I believe that OpenAI is one of the most important companies currently in existence.” 

Mr Shear’s Plans 

It’s been reported that Mr Shear plans to hire an independent investigator to examine who ousted Altman and why, speak with OpenAI’s company stakeholders, and reform the company’s management team as needed.

Mr Shear said: “Depending on the results everything we learn from these, I will drive changes in the organisation – up to and including pushing strongly for significant governance changes if necessary.” 

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

Sam Altman has become known as the broadly well-liked face of AI since the introduction of OpenAI’s hugely popular ChatGPT chatbot one year ago. He’s extremely popular too with OpenAI employees, and other major tech industry figures, including Emmett Shear, who is now OpenAI’s interim CEO and Google boss Eric Schmidt who’s described Mr Altman “a hero of mine”. Also, Mr Altman is very close to OpenAI’s major investors Microsoft, and has already been snapped up by Microsoft (along with Brockman) as head of a new AI research team there.

Altman’s rapid ousting from OpenAI has not gone down well and all eyes appear to be focused on some of the other members of OpenAI’s board, plus the power struggle that appears to have been fought, and what kind of management and governance is needed at the top of OpenAI now to take it forward. It’s still early and it remains to be seen what happens at the top following the investigation by interim CEO Shears. Microsoft will doubtless be very happy about having Altman on board which could see them make their own gains in the now highly competitive generative AI market.

With Altman gone, it remains to be seen how/if OpenAI’s products and rapid progress and success is ultimately affected.

Update: 22.11.23 – It’s been announced that Sam Altman will soon return to OpenAI following changes to the board.

Tech Insight : Avoid Getting Stung With Roaming Charges

In the wake of the recent news that Scotland’s Health Secretary, Michael Matheson, received an £11,000 roaming charges bill from his holiday, here we look at some of main ways you can keep data roaming charges down.

What Are Data Roaming Charges? 

Data roaming charges are fees that you incur when using your mobile phone’s data connection (like for internet or email) while you are in a different country from where your mobile service is based. These charges exist because when you’re abroad, your mobile phone company has to use the networks of other companies in the country you’re visiting. This is known as ‘roaming’.

The foreign networks charge your home mobile company for the use of their networks, and these costs are often passed on to you as ‘data roaming charges’. These charges can be quite high because they include the costs of international agreements and network usage between different companies in different countries.

Roaming Charges Cost More Outside The EU 

Roaming charges are generally higher outside the European Union (EU) due to the lack of EU-regulated caps on these charges. In non-EU countries for example, mobile operators set their own rates, often influenced by international agreements, network costs, and market dynamics.

How To Avoid Or Minimise Roaming Charges

To minimise or avoid roaming charges while on holiday, you can use several strategies. For example:

– Check your plan and any roaming arrangements in good time before you go. Some plans include roaming allowances for certain countries which may already cover your basic needs. You may also be able to buy a reasonable plan for the country you’re going to visit. Your mobile plan may also give you the option to put a spending cap on – i.e. your data will stop working (and you’ll stop getting charged) when you exceed the limit you set.

– Turn off data roaming. You can disable data roaming in your smartphone settings. This prevents your phone from using mobile data abroad, thus avoiding roaming charges. However, you won’t be able to access the internet via your mobile network when roaming is off, but you can (as shown in the next point) use the hotel Wi-Fi (most holiday accommodation now provides Wi-Fi). You can also take the precaution of downloading your favourite music, TV shows and podcasts to your device before going on holiday in anticipation of turning off roaming.

– Use Wi-Fi for internet access whenever possible. Hotels, restaurants, cafes, and public places often offer free Wi-Fi. You can make calls, send messages, and browse the internet over Wi-Fi without incurring roaming charges. However, although the hotel Wi-Fi may be safer (networks with passwords are often safer), it’s best to careful when using public Wi-Fi in areas such as cafes and public places. Some ways you can protect yourself when using public Wi-Fi include using a VPN and keeping your device’s antivirus up to date, not using your banking app or sharing personal information, turning off file sharing and AirDrop options, and by always logging out of accounts when finished.

– Get a local SIM card, i.e. purchase a local SIM card in the country you’re visiting. This gives you a local number and access to local rates for calls, texts, and data. Ensure your phone is unlocked and compatible with the local network.

– Use an international/travel plan from your provider. For example, many mobile service providers offer special international or travel plans that include reduced rates for data, calls, and texts abroad. Check with your provider before travelling.

– Use communication apps such as WhatsApp, Skype, and Facebook Messenger to communicate over Wi-Fi. With these apps You can make voice and video calls, send messages, and even share photos without using your mobile network or your data.

– Before leaving a Wi-Fi zone, download maps, travel guides, and any other information you might need. This way, you can access them offline without needing mobile data.

– Monitor/keep track of your data usage. Some smartphones have built-in features to monitor data usage, or you can download third-party apps.

– Limit time spent online. If roaming is expensive on your plan, you could designate a certain time of day to go online and if travelling with others, consider rotating who uses their phone to check directions/look at recommendations, thereby spreading the cost between you.

– Use a temporary SIM card / consider using an international SIM card or an eSIM with plans that offer better rates for multiple countries if you’re visiting several places.

– Avoid data-intensive activities like streaming video or music, and downloading large files when not connected to Wi-Fi. For, example, the Scottish Health Secretary attributed his £11,000 roaming bill to his sons usage of their iPads to stream content. For example, on your smartphone, you can often set a data limit warning that alerts you when you’re nearing a specified data usage threshold.

– If you feel you’re able to do so, switch your device off altogether on certain days. For example, in popular holiday countries outside the EU, such as Turkey, you may find that you incur a whole daily charge if your phone is on at any time between midnight and the following midnight.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

The realities of data roaming charges, especially the higher costs outside the EU, have significant implications for both mobile networks and individuals travelling abroad for business or holidays.

For mobile networks, the evolving landscape of data roaming presents both a challenge and an opportunity. Networks must balance the need to cover the costs incurred through international agreements and network usage while remaining competitive and customer friendly. They have an opportunity to innovate by offering tailored international plans, roaming packages, and features like spending caps to appeal to global travellers. This not only enhances customer satisfaction but also helps in maintaining a loyal customer base who might otherwise seek alternatives.

Business travellers and holidaymakers need to be increasingly savvy about managing their data usage abroad. The hefty bill incurred by Scotland’s Health Secretary highlights the potential financial pitfalls of unchecked roaming. For businesses, this underscores the importance of having clear policies and education for employees traveling abroad. Implementing best practices like using secure Wi-Fi, opting for local SIM cards, and utilising data management tools can lead to substantial cost savings.

Also, there’s a growing need for awareness about network security, especially when using public Wi-Fi, which is critical for protecting sensitive business information. Businesses can invest in VPNs and educate their employees on digital security measures.

While roaming charges present a cost challenge, therefore, they also encourage both mobile networks and travellers to adopt smarter, more cost-effective strategies. For businesses, this means being proactive in managing data usage and security for employees traveling abroad, while for mobile networks, it’s an opportunity to innovate and provide value-added services that cater to the needs of global travellers.

Tech News : Amazon’s Satellite Broadband : 100% Success

Amazon’s ‘Project Kuiper’ satellite broadband moved one step closer following a reported 100 per cent success rate for its first two prototype satellites.

Project Kuiper 

Like Elon Musk’s SpaceX, with Project Kuiper, Amazon hopes to set up its own low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite broadband network, i.e. 311 miles (500 kilometres) above Earth. It is still, however, in the early testing stage.

The only two satellites currently deployed by Amazon (and used to test Project Kuiper), were launched in early October using Atlas V rocket from United Launch Alliance (ULA) and which lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida.

Amazon says that following the recent tests, “mass satellite production ahead of a full-scale deployment” will begin early next year, followed by beta testing which will begin in the second half of next year, with partners like Vodafone and Verizon participating in the service pilots.

Also, Amazon is inviting enterprise, telecommunications, and government customers to register (early next year) to take part in part in its pilot to help get Project Kuiper up and running in the (hopefully not-too-distant) future.

Protoflight Success 

Amazon has reported that within 30 days of sending two prototype satellites into space, Project Kuiper achieved a 100 per cent success rate for its Protoflight mission, thereby “validating key technologies that underpin the network and moving the program another step closer toward that long-term vision.” 

The company says the experience was unique to the Protoflight mission because it only has two satellites in orbit.

Testing What? 

The company described the success of its two most recent Proto-flight tests as “an incredible feat.” The tests looked at different performance characteristics of the Project Kuiper network, on top of the basic functions of transmitting and receiving data. For example, the test looked at the performance of what Amazon calls the “RF communications payload,” which is the satellites’ parabolic antennas, phased array antennas, and other elements that will allow the system to send customer data traffic across the network.

The testing also involved three basic demonstrations of transmitting and receiving data over the Project Kuiper satellite network, which were:

– In the first demonstration, logging into an Amazon Prime account, searching for a product, adding it to the cart, and then checking out.

– In the second demonstration, logging into Prime Video, searching for the Amazon Original movie ‘A Million Miles Away’, and then streaming it as ultra-high definition (UHD) 4K video, thereby testing “network throughput and low latency”.

In the third demonstration, a two-way video call over Amazon Chime between Amazon’s test site in Texas and its mission operations centre in Washington, thereby testing low latency (for a smooth video call), and involving “full duplex” performance, with antennas simultaneously sending and receiving data.

What’s Next?

The rapid deployment stage next year will essentially involve launching enough satellites to build a constellation to provide enough coverage. It’s been reported that, for example, Amazon has secured 77 heavy-lift vehicles over three launch providers to help with this.

SpaceX Second Launch – Explosion 

Just days after Amazon’s announcement, on Saturday, Elon Musk’s SpaceX confirmed the second (test) launch of its SpaceX Starship rocket. Unfortunately, like the first test, it didn’t end particularly well. Apparently, the rocket flew for about eight minutes before SpaceX lost contact with it, and whilst the top part of the rocket successfully separated from the booster, it exploded shortly afterwards.

What’s So Good About Satellite Broadband, Anyway?

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has already been to space himself before any of his satellites, thanks to founding his own Blue Origin company which builds and launches reusable launch vehicles and in-space systems for civil, commercial, and defence customers. This, plus Amazon’s huge financial and market power and ability to diversify means that it was only a matter of time before it used these synergies and capabilities to start offering satellite broadband of its own.

This puts in in direct competition with Elon Musk’s SpaceX and its Starlink broadband, which already has around 4,500 orbiting satellites in operation (accounting for more than 50 per cent of all active satellites orbiting the Earth). This means that Amazon’s less snappy, rather awkwardly named Project Kuiper, with its 2 orbiting satellites has some catching up to do in order to keep up as a front runner in what is seen by some as the tech billionaires’ battle for space and control over what will become the global communications network, and the power and influence that brings.

Not only is satellite broadband beneficial in terms of allowing internet and communications access anywhere in the world (for homes and businesses) and in areas where options are limited, but as recent conflicts have shown and as the EU has recognised (with plans to launch its own 170 satellites), it will be vital for space-based sovereignty and secure communication services.

Some commentators also see the rush to launch communications satellites (which is becoming more complex due to the amount of satellites and space junk already in orbit) as a way for companies and countries to claim their own bit of ‘space.’ Amazon’s bold announcement therefore of 100 per cent success may have seemed a little weak, considering there are only 2 satellites to test, but it’s larger purpose was to highlight Amazon’s intent, readiness, and capability to challenge and establish itself as major player in space, as it is on earth, and it’s understood that Amazon plans to send up thousands of satellites over the next 5 years.

For households and businesses in unserved and underserved communities, plus to large enterprises and government agencies operating all over the world, satellite broadband offers reliable, fast connections and for Starlink, Amazon (and no doubt others to follow), it offers not just another source of revenue, but power, influence, and staking a claim in the future.

Tech News : Warning Over Lessening Of AI Facial Recognition Supervision

Computer Weekly recently reported that in an interview with the outgoing England and Wales biometrics and surveillance camera commissioner, Professor Fraser Sampson, he warned of the declining state of oversight in AI facial recognition surveillance deployment by UK police.

Resignation 

Professor Fraser Sampson emailed his resignation letter to (then) Home Secretary Suella Braverman in August, stating his intention to resign by October 31. The reason given was that the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill will essentially make his role redundant by removing the responsibilities of the Biometrics Commissioner’s position and giving these powers to the Investigatory Powers Commissioner.

Professor Sampson, who was only appointed to the role in March 2021, said: “Having explored a number of alternatives with officials, I am unable to find a practical way in which I can continue to discharge the functions of these two roles beyond 1st November.” 

Professor Sampson’s responsibilities in the role had included overseeing how the police collect, retain and use biometric material (such as digital facial images), and encouraging their compliance with the surveillance camera code of practice.

Past Concerns and Criticisms 

In addition to espousing the many benefits of AI facial recognition’s deployment in the UK (e.g. catching known criminals – including those who are involved in child sexual abuse material), finding missing or vulnerable people, locating terror suspects, and helping to prevent the suffering of inhumane or degrading treatment of citizens, Professor Sampson has also previously criticised and raised concerns about aspects of its deployment. For example, in February, he noted:

– The absence of a clear set of legal rules or a framework to regulate the police’s use of AI and biometric material.

– A lack of clarity about the scale and extent of public space surveillance, particularly in relation to the proliferation of Chinese surveillance technology across the public sector.

Professor Sampson has also been vocal about a number of other related issues and concerns, such as:

– Issues related to the questionable legality of using public cloud infrastructure to store and process law enforcement data and the police’s general culture of retaining biometric data.

– Concerns about the unlawful retention of millions of custody images of people who have been charged with a crime. Despite Professor Sampson raising the issue, and the High Court ruling in 2012 that they should be deleted, it’s been reported that the Home Office, which owns UK police biometric databases, hasn’t done so because it has no bulk deletion capacity.

– The dangers of the UK slipping into becoming an “all-encompassing” surveillance state if concerns about these technologies (facial recognition) are not addressed. He has expressed his surprise at the disconnected approach of the UK government and his shock at how little the police and local authorities know about the capabilities and implications of the surveillance equipment they were using.

– Concerns about the possible misuse of facial recognition and AI technologies in controversial settings ( i.e. that the approach taken by UK police / their deployment methods in controversial settings could negate any benefits of the usage of the technologies). Controversial settings could include mass surveillance at public events, targeting specific communities, routine public surveillance, application in schools or educational institutions, and use in workplaces, all of which raise concerns about privacy, discrimination, and infringement on individuals’ rights.

– Rejection of the “nothing to worry about” defence, i.e. he challenged the common justification for surveillance that people who have done nothing wrong have nothing to worry about, stating this misses the point entirely.

– The government’s data reform proposals. For example, he criticised the government’s Data Protection and Digital Information (DPDI) Bill, arguing that it would lead to weaker oversight by subsuming biometric oversight under the Investigatory Powers Commissioner and removing the obligation to publish a Surveillance Camera Code of Practice.

– Efficacy and ethical concerns. Professor Sampson questioned the effectiveness of facial recognition in preventing serious crimes and highlighted the risk of pervasive facial-recognition surveillance. He also noted the chilling effect of such surveillance, where people might alter their behaviour due to the knowledge of being watched and warned against the abuse of these powers.

– He also advocated for a robust, clear, and intuitive oversight accountability framework for facial-recognition and biometric technologies, expressing concern about the fragmentation of the existing regulatory framework.

– The government’s lack of understanding and direction. For example, Professor Sampson commented on the lack of understanding and rationale in the government’s direction with police technology oversight and emphasised the need for public trust and confidence as a prerequisite, not just a desired outcome, for the rollout of new technologies.

– Predictive policing concerns. He warned against the dangers of using algorithms or AI for predictive policing, arguing that such approaches rely heavily on assumptions and create a baseline level of suspicion around the public.

Wider Concerns About Police Surveillance Using Facial Recognition 

Professor Sampson’s concerns about the police using Live Facial Recognition (LFR) surveillance at special assignments and high-profile events echo many of those expressed by others over the last few years. For example:

– Back in 2018, Elizabeth Denham, the then UK Information Commissioner launched a formal investigation into how police forces used FRT after high failure rates, misidentifications and worries about legality, bias, and privacy. In the same year, a letter written by privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch and signed by more than 18 politicians, 25 campaign groups, plus numerous academics and barristers, highlighted concerns that facial recognition is being adopted in the UK before it has been properly scrutinised.

– In the EU, in January 2020, the European Commission considered a ban on the use of facial recognition in public spaces for up to five years while new regulations for its use are put in place. In June this year, the EU actually adopted a blanket ban on AI-powered facial recognition in public spaces.

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

The evolving landscape of the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill, particularly in the context of Professor Fraser Sampson’s resignation, could hold significant implications for UK businesses. This shift indicates a potential realignment of regulatory focus from physical biometric surveillance to digital data protection. For businesses, this underscores the need to adapt to a framework that prioritises digital data security and privacy.

The possible consolidation of regulatory bodies, like merging the roles of the Biometrics Commissioner into the Investigatory Powers Commissioner, may not necessarily suggest a decline of oversight, as suggested by Professor Fraser, but could also suggest a more streamlined oversight process. On the upside, this could mean simpler compliance procedures for businesses, but may also demand a broader understanding of a wider set of regulations. On the downside, companies (especially those dealing with biometric data) may need to very closely track these changes to ensure they remain compliant.

As the bill is likely to address the complexities of digital data, businesses will need to be proactive in understanding how these complexities are regulated. This is crucial for those handling large volumes of customer data or relying heavily on digital platforms. Adapting to evolving technologies and staying abreast of technological advancements will, therefore, be key.

All in all, in the light of the changes (and possible decline in oversight) highlighted by Professor Fraser, businesses will now need to be mindful of shifting political and public sentiments around privacy and surveillance, as these can influence consumer behaviour. While the changing regulatory landscape presents challenges, it also offers opportunities for businesses to align with contemporary data protection standards. Staying informed and adaptable may therefore be essential for navigating these changes successfully going forward.

Featured Article : Major Upgrades To ChatGPT For Paid Subscribers

One year on from its general introduction, OpenAI has announced some major upgrades to ChatGPT for its Plus and Enterprise subscribers.

New Updates Announced At DevDay 

At OpenAI’s first ‘DevDay’ developer conference on November 6, the company announced more major upgrades to its popular ChatGPT chatbot premium service. The upgrades come as competition between the AI giants in the new and rapidly evolving generative AI market is increasing, following a year that has seen the introduction of Bing Chat and Copilot (Microsoft), Google’s Bard and Duet AI, Claude (Anthropic AI), X’s Grok, and more. Although this year, ChatGPT has already been updated since its general basic release with a subscription service and its more powerful GPT-4 model, plug-ins to connect it with other web services, and integration with OpenAI’s Dall-E 3 image generator (for Plus and Enterprise) and image upload to help with queries, OpenAI will be hoping that the new upgrades will retain the loyalty of its considerable user base and retain its place as the generative AI front-runner.

GPT’s 

The first of four main new upgrades is ‘GPTs,’ which gives anyone (who is a ChatGPT Plus subscriber) the option to create their own tailored version of ChatGPT, e.g. to help them in their daily life, or to help with specific tasks at work, or at home. For example (as suggested by TechCrunch), a tech business could create and train its own GPT on its own proprietary codebases thereby enabling developers to check their style or generate code in line with best practices.

Users can create their own GPT with this ‘no coding required’ feature by clicking on the ‘Create a GPT’ option and using a GPT Builder. This involves using a conversation with the chatbot to give it instructions and extra knowledge, to pick what the GPT can do (e.g. searching the web, making images, or analysing data). OpenAI says the ability for customers to build their own custom GPT chatbot builds upon the ‘Custom Instructions’ it launched in July that let users set some preferences.

OpenAI has also addressed many privacy concerns about the feature by saying that any user chats with GPTs won’t be shared with builders and, if a GPT uses third party APIs, users can choose whether data can be sent to that API.

Share Your Custom GPTs Publicly Via ‘GTP Store’ 

The next new upgrade announced is the fact that users can publicly share the GPTs they create via a soon-to-be-launched (later this month), searchable ‘GPT Store’ – the equivalent of an app store, like Apple’s App Store or Google Play. OpenAI says the GPT Store will feature creations by verified builders and once in the store, GPTs become searchable and may “climb the leaderboards.” OpenAI also says it will spotlight the best GPTs in categories like productivity, education, and “just for fun,” and “in the coming months” GTP creators will be able to earn money based on how many people are using their GPT.

Turbo GPT-4 

In another announcement, OpenAI says it’s launching a preview of the next generation of its GTP-4 model (first launched in March) named GPT-4 Turbo.  As the name suggest, the Turbo version will be improved and more powerful. Features include:

– More up-to-date knowledge, i.e. knowledge of world events up to April 2023.

– A 128k context window to fit the equivalent of more than 300 pages of text in a single prompt.

– Optimised performance, which OpenAI says enables GPT-4 Turbo to be offered at a 3x cheaper price for input tokens and a 2x cheaper price for output tokens compared to GPT-4.

– ChatGPT Plus will also be easier to use, i.e. no need to switch between different models because DALL-E, browsing, and data analysis can all be accessed without switching.

Copyright Shield 

The last of the major update announcements for pro users is the introduction of ‘Copyright Shield’ to protect enterprise and API users (not free or Plus users) from legal claims around copyright infringement. This appears to be an answer to Microsoft’s September and Google’s October announcement that they will assume responsibility for potential legal risks to customers from copyright infringement claims arising from the use of their AI products.

Google, for example, announced it will offer limited indemnity and assume responsibility for the potential legal risks where customers receive copyright challenges through using generative AI products like Duet AI. Although it’s not yet clear how Copyright Shield will operate, OpenAI states in a recent blog: “we will now step in and defend our customers.” 

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

OpenAI’s work with the other big tech companies and its general launch of ChatGPT a year ago have established it as the major player in the new and rapidly growing generative AI market. Building on the introduction of GPT-4 and rapid monetisation of its services through its business focused Plus and Enterprise subscriptions, these latest updates see OpenAI making the shift from AI model to developer to platform, i.e. with GTPs and the GTP Store.

What’s exciting and useful about GPTs is that they don’t require any coding skills, thereby democratising generative AI app creation and providing an easy way for businesses to create tools that can help them to save time and money, boost their productivity, improve their service, and much more. The addition of the GPT Store idea allows OpenAI to establish itself as a major go-to platform for AI apps, thereby competing with the likes of Google and Apple in a way. The Store could also provide a great opportunity for developers to monetise their GPTs as well as perhaps being a threat to consultancies and developers already creating custom AI services on behalf of paying clients.

The more powerful Turbo GTP-4 and its more up to date outputs, plus the lack of requirement to switch between different models are also likely to be features valued by businesses wanting easier, faster, and more productive ways to use ChatGPT. Furthermore, the Copyright Shield idea is likely to improve user confidence while enabling OpenAI to compete with Google and Microsoft, which have already announced their versions of it.

All in all, in the new and fast-moving generative AI market, these new upgrades see OpenAI ratcheting things up a notch, adding value, making serious competitive and customer retention efforts, showing its ambitions to move to platform status and greater monetisation, and further establishing itself as a major force in generative AI. For business users, these changes provide more opportunities to easily introduce customised and value-adding AI to any aspect of their business.

Tech Insight : New £1 Billion Cheltenham Tech Campus

Plans have been submitted for a new £1 billion development in Cheltenham that will include one of Europe’s largest tech campuses and will house the National Cyber Innovation Centre.

Cheltenham’s Golden Valley Development 

Planning has been submitted for what will be called ‘Cheltenham’s Golden Valley Development,’ which is reported to be at the heart of the Government’s National Cyber Strategy. As well as being the UK’s newest Innovation District (a 47ha site), it will be one of Europe’s largest purpose-built tech campus’ and is predicted to play a crucial role in achieving the UK’s ambition to be a Science and Tech Superpower by 2030.

What Will It Include? 

The expansive project, which will be delivered by Developer HBD x Factory Ltd alongside Cheltenham Borough Council and key local partners, will include:

– 1 million sq. ft of new commercial space.

– 1,000 low carbon homes.

– A network of green open spaces with community amenities and a new primary school.

– A new National Cyber Innovation Centre, the proposals for which will be detailed and submitted separately in the new year following last month’s £95m funding agreement for the delivery of the “landmark” new building.

Already A Technolgy Cluster – Will Become Even More Attractive 

Already home to one of the UK’s most significant Technology Clusters, with the largest concentration of cyber companies outside of London, and a diverse selection of businesses specialising in AI, Deep Tech and Future Computing/Quantum, Cheltenham is expected to become even more attractive as a UK tech centre if the development is approved.

A Playground For Innovators 

Developers ‘HBD x Factory Ltd.’ report that Golden Valley will also become a playground for innovators looking to test new, innovative Smart City concepts.

Councillor Mike Collins, cabinet member for cyber, regeneration and commercial income at Cheltenham Borough Council said of the proposed project: “This is a huge step in the delivery of Golden Valley and I am delighted that we have reached a stage that a planning application has been submitted. Here in Cheltenham, we will be host to an internationally significant cyber and technology focussed campus which, subject to planning permission, will provide the catalyst for delivering economic growth for the town and regeneration of local communities.’’ 

GCHQ Too 

Golden Valley will be situated adjacent to the iconic GCHQ building known affectionately as ‘The Doughnut’ and GCHQ’s Paul Killworth, Deputy Chief Scientific Adviser for National Security, said of the plans “GCHQ supports Cheltenham Borough Council’s vision of Golden Valley as a thriving, high-tech cluster of cyber and technology firms working across the new campus.”  Also, Mr Killworth highlighted how Golden Valley “will lead to a sea-change in national-security relations between government, academia and industry” and how the new National Cyber Innovation Centre and the development of it will become “a key part of the transformation of the intelligence community’s Science & Technology effort.” 

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

Cheltenham’s Golden Valley Development plan sounds as though it could be much more than just a blueprint for infrastructure and could become a beacon of growth and opportunity for businesses across the UK. With a significant £1 billion investment earmarked for what will be (if approved) one of Europe’s largest tech campuses, the National Cyber Innovation Centre, and a new commercial spaces, this project is poised to elevate Cheltenham and the surrounding area (which is already a centre for technology) to become an even more formidable force in the global tech arena.

For local businesses, for example, the influx of technology companies provides an opportunity for collaboration and service expansion. The development also promises to create a vibrant community with 1,000 low carbon homes, green spaces, and educational facilities that will attract and retain a talented workforce. For example, the fact that Cheltenham and Golden valley are well connected by train and road with fast direct connectivity to Bristol, Birmingham, London, and other key parts of the country, and are within 90 minutes of 20 universities, could mean it’s perfectly placed to attract a wealth of talent, expanding this high-value, high-growth industry.

These elements combined could stimulate the local housing market, increase demand for local services, and generate a variety of job opportunities in construction, retail, and education sectors. Educational institutions in the area may also find new vigour from the development, and could link up to create partnerships, and research ventures.

For the UK’s position in the tech world, Golden Valley is one of several strategic moves to fuel the nation’s ambition to become a Science and Tech Superpower by 2030. The development will not just be a hub for cyber companies, but may also become a centre for innovation, where smart city concepts and advanced technology can be fostered.

In essence, therefore, the Golden Valley Development could be an investment in the UK’s economic and technological future, creating an ecosystem where businesses can thrive, innovate, and connect, thereby setting a new precedent for what a modern tech economy can look like. The development could be an invitation to be part of a future where national security, technological advancement, and economic prosperity go hand in hand and the ripples of this development may be felt not just in Cheltenham or the UK, but across the global stage. If the planning and development go ahead (and as the UK cements its role as a leading destination for cyber expertise), every business connected to the Golden Valley Development may stand to benefit in some way. Fingers crossed!

Tech News : Musk Launches Preview of Grok AI Chatbot

Elon Musk’s ‘xAI’ company has launched the preview of ‘Grok’, a new and rebellious AI chatbot that’s modelled after the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Grok 

Grok is Musk’s answer to OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard. Musk was a co-founder ChatGPT’s OpenAI before stepping down from its board in 2018, and his new xAI company is staffed with (ex) Google DeepMind, Microsoft, and other top AI research personnel.

Truth Seeking

Back in July, Musk said that his new xAI company would “understand the true nature of the universe” and would be an alternative to other popular AI companies that are “biased.” Musk said that xAI’s AI product would, therefore, serve as a “maximum truth-seeking AI that tries to understand the nature of the universe”, would be “maximally curious” instead of having morality programmed into it, and in a Tweet (a while ago) warned of the “danger of training AI to be woke – in other words, lie”. This stance ties-in with Musk’s vision for X (Twitter) being a platform of free speech. For example, there has been some criticism of Musk’s X recently re-instating the accounts of far-right influencers Katie Hopkins and Tommy Robinson.

The Grok Difference 

It is against this backdrop that Grok’s introduction has been announced. The key differences between Grok and competing AI chatbots such as ChatGPT and Bard are:

Grok has real-time knowledge of the world via its training on the X platform (and probably on Oracle’s cloud). Other chatbots have only been trained to access information up to certain points in the past (ChatGPT-3 up to September 2021, and ChatGPT-4 April 2023) and (until very recently) needed plugins to access more current information. Back in April, Musk angrily accused Microsoft of training its AI programs through the ‘illegal’ use of Twitter data.

Also, in keeping with Musk’s ‘free speech’ stance and focus on ‘truth’ rather than ‘woke,’ X says that Grok will answer “spicy questions that are rejected by most other AI systems.”

Musk says “Grok is designed to answer questions with a bit of wit and has a rebellious streak, so please don’t use it if you hate humour!”

Some commentators have described its ability to use ‘sarcasm’ in its answers.

Why?

Despite Musk’s early involvement with OpenAI, X was essentially beaten to the generative AI chatbot market by OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Google’s Bard, Microsoft’s Copilot, and Meta’s announcement of truth GPT. After venting his frustration with competitors, Musk (who’s been busy fighting to create revenue streams for X other than advertising and trying to counter criticism about X under his leadership) while advancing his new company xAI and planning to turn X into a super app is keen to get his own differentiated generative AI product out there in order to compete. In fact, Grok will first be included as part of the X Premium+ membership, as a way to add value and help justify the subscription fee (all adding to the much-needed new X revenue stream).

Also, Musk’s concern over the threats posed by unchecked and unregulated AI, which led him to be one of the famous open letter signatories calling for a 6-month moratorium on the development of AI systems more capable than OpenAI’s latest GPT-4 (which may have given him more development time of his own), may have been a motivator for him to create a more positive and less threatening version of AI.

For example, Musk suggests his broader reasons for creating Grok include “building AI tools that maximally benefit all of humanity,” and empowering users with “AI tools, subject to the law.” Also, Musk says the ultimate goal for AI tools like Grok is to “assist in the pursuit of understanding.”

Who? 

Musk’s xAI says that the prototype release of Grok is just the first step for a chatbot that is initially being offered to a limited number of users in the United States to try out. Those wanting to try it following testing can join a Grok waitlist. Grok is ultimately intended to be offered as part of the X Premium+ membership.

When and How Much? 

When out of beta, and since it will be incorporated into X Premium+ subscription, the price will be $16 per month (less than ChatGPT’s $20 per month).

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

Grok is the latest in a line of generative AI chatbot/AI assistant releases from the big tech companies. It’s the first big release from Elon Musk’s new xAI company, which is predominantly staffed by people from competing AI companies.

For Musk, therefore, it’s a way to compete in the new and rapidly evolving generative AI market, establish xAI as a significant player, benefit from synergies and add value to the troubled X while making the much-needed X Premium+ subscription more attractive (a new, non-advertising revenue stream). It’s also a way to put an AI assistant in place, ready for the proposed expansion of X to becoming a ‘super app’.

Crucially, Grok is a way to differentiate Musk’s late offering in the generative AI marketplace – a chatbot that’s a representation of the X brand and of Musk’s own public persona, and of his vision for AI. For other AI companies, it’s a threat but may not yet be seen as a major one (i.e. only being in beta, needing more training, and being confined within X membership).  For users, who may be already familiar and relatively happy with ChatGPT, and who may not be tempted by X Premium+ membership and yet another subscription for the same thing (in tight economic times), it remains to be seen how much of a lure a more novel, (possibly right-wing) chatbot style will be.

Tech News : New Wearable Smartphone AND Virtual Assistant

Humane has announced the release of its Apple-style AI-powered badge/pin wearable that combines a smartphone with virtual assistant capabilities for when you’re on the move.

Humane 

Humane, a startup founded by ex-Apple design and engineering team Imran Chaudhri and Bethany Bongiorno, has announced the launch of its $699 (five years in the making) AI-powered pin (badge wearable) which it developed using funding of $230 million from investors, including Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff.

AI Pin

The “first-of-its-kind” very simply named ‘Ai Pin,’ available to order in the US from November 16th, is a magnetically attached, small, round-cornered square wearable, with more than a hint of apple styling, and a camera (like a phone camera or bodycam) in the top corner. It comes in colours described as Eclipse, Equinox, and Lunar (black, silver, or white to us) and has a two-piece design, consisting of the main computer and a battery booster.

Created Through Unique Collaborations 

Humane says AI Pin’s development is the result of “unique collaborations with Microsoft and OpenAI,” which give it access to some of the world’s most powerful AI models and platforms, thereby providing the foundation for new capabilities to be added as the technology evolves.

Cosmos & AI Bus 

Humane says its ‘Cosmos’ operating system blends “intelligent technologies with intuitive interaction and advanced security” and that its new “AI Bus” software framework is what “brings AI Pin to life.” The AI Bus software is used to connect the user to the right AI experience or service instantly, thereby removing the need to download, manage, or launch apps.

What Can The AI Pin Do? 

The main difference between this and other wearables isn’t just how it’s worn (on the body as a badge), but the fact that it incorporates a dedicated Qualcomm® AI Engine (AI assistant), and uses a “laser projection system” instead of a display which essentially projects AR glasses onto your hand, enabling you to use the projection as a touchscreen! It can also an identify objects in the real world and apply digital imagery to them. Other key features and capabilities include:

– It operates by natural speech (via an “AI Mic”) or by using the intuitive touchpad, by holding up objects to it, by using gestures, or by interacting with the “Laser Ink Display projected onto your palm.” 

– AI-powered messaging enables you to craft messages in your tone of voice.

– Its ‘Catch Me Up’ function sorts through inbox noise.

– Humane’s partnership with TIDAL* enables the AI Pin to deliver AI-driven music experiences.

– The AI-powered photographer helps you capture and recall important memories.

– It can translate foreign languages and can support your nutrition goals by identifying food using computer vision.

– Its “perpetual power system” means you can hot-swap the battery booster on-the-go, thereby ensuring uninterrupted usage and all-day battery life.

– The ultra-wide RGB camera, depth sensor and motion sensors, allow AI Pin to “see the world as you see it.” 

– Humane says the Personic speaker creates a “bubble of sound,” offering both intimacy and volume as needed.

– AI Pin can also pair with headphones via Bluetooth although it is a standalone device that doesn’t need to be paired with a smartphone or other companion device. Interestingly, Humane plans to provide its own MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) wireless service for AI Pin, connected by its exclusive U.S. partner, T-Mobile.

– Its own cloud-based ‘Humane.center’ central hub, (which AI Pin instantly connects to) allowing access to your data, including photos, videos, and notes.

Humane says that as the device and platform evolves with future updates, so will the possibilities it unlocks.

Privacy Features

Humane has highlighted the main privacy features of AI Pin as being:

– The AI Pin only activates upon user engagement and doesn’t use ‘wake words’ (like other AI assistants), thereby ensuring it is not always listening or recording.

– The AI Pin has a “Trust Light” which indicates when any sensors are active and is managed via a dedicated privacy chip.

– If compromised, AI Pin will shut down completely and require professional service from Humane.

– Upon purchasing the AI Pin, users are invited to onboard via a privacy-protected portal, allowing the device to tailor its services to individual preferences.

– It has a phone number (it connects to a mobile network), plus it supports international roaming, GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth.

Concerns and Criticism

While the device sounds like a step forward for wearables, some of the concerns and criticism around the AI Pin include:

– Just because the company Humane has the faith of investors and the expertise of leading AI specialists, it doesn’t mean that the AI Pin will be a success. The (still relatively new) AI wearables field is littered with companies and products that have been wide of the mark, such as Magic Leap’s AR headset failure (despite AT&T, Google and Alibaba Group as investors, the Google Clips, a body-worn, hands-free smart camera’s failure.

– The hype about and huge investment in Humane with no real product to speak of until now (after five years).

– Rumours and allegations that Humane’s founders, Bongiorno and Chaudhri didn’t leave Google on good terms due to (allegedly) taking most of the credit for work done by a larger team.

– Concerns that, in the near future, Humane could charge additional fees for “capacity” (as indicated by Chaudhri) although services like unlimited web searches via Ai Mic and unlimited media storage on Microsoft’s cloud are free.

– Concerns that the camera on the front of the badge and how it is used may not comply with data privacy laws in other countries (e.g. like smart glasses). In the case of AI Pin, although the microphone and camera aren’t always on, the camera is still visible and could prompt objections and problems if worn publicly, e.g. issues over consent.

– Other much more powerful and more well-known tech companies and brands such as Apple (where Humane’s founders came from) are already a long way ahead in the wearables market.

– Concerns that, as with smart glasses, the high price tag, and concerns over limited understanding about consumer use cases, could make them most popular with businesses, potentially negatively affecting the scope of the market for them.

– Reported criticisms about the quality of the photos taken with its camera, and the lack of partnerships with social media companies to enable instant uploading of photos to favourite social networks, e.g. Instagram.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Humane’s new AI Pin’s styling displays the Apple origins of the company’s founders, which may have some positive rub-off value, and the AI Pin can rightly claim to be a new kind of wearable. It clearly has the considerable backing of investors and was developed through collaborations with Microsoft and OpenAI, both of which suggest and inspire confidence in its ground-breaking potential.

The AI Pin’s projected touchscreen, AI incorporation, multiple ways to operate it, and its multiple functions and potential uses also make it a promising and different product and alternative to smart glasses and other wearables. That said, Humane is up against some tough competition in the wearables market from major tech competitors that also have their own considerable AI investment and products and are already leading the wearables market. The relatively high price coupled with perhaps understandable concerns that people may not like the idea of appearing to be filmed by what looks like a bodycam (without their consent), concerns whether the impressive projected keyboard idea is enough of a draw for anyone other than certain businesses and tech early adopters, and many examples of failed wearables suggest that it remains to be seen how much long-term interest there will be in the AI Pin.