Peter Sayer

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IFA: The ‘corporate’ electronics show

IFA: The corporate electronics show
ifa 2017 electronics show

Image by Peter Sayer/IDG

IFA, the consumer electronics show held in Berlin each September, has something for everyone — including the corporate buyer. True, its many halls are dominated by home entertainment equipment and white goods such as smart washing machines and connected refrigerators. But some of the products on show would be equally at home in the enterprise. Here’s a quick tour of 2017’s crop. 

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The AI fight is escalating: This is the IT giants’ next move

Artificial intelligence is where the competition is in IT, with Microsoft and Google both parading powerful, always-available AI tools for the enterprise at their respective developer conferences, Build and I/O, in May. 

It’s not just about work: AI software can now play chess, go, and some retro video games better than any human — and even drive a car better than many of us. These superhuman performances, albeit in narrow fields, are all possible thanks to the application of decades of AI research — research that is increasingly, as at Build and I/O, making it out of the lab and into the real world.

Meanwhile, the AI-powered voice technologies behind virtual assistants like Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon.com’s Alexa and Samsung Electronics’ Bixby may offer less-than-superhuman performance, but they also require vastly less power than a supercomputer to run. Businesses can dabble on the edges of these, for example developing Alexa “skills” that allow Amazon Echo owners to interact with a company without having to dial its call center, or jump right in, using the various cloud-based speech recognition and text-to-speech “-as-a-service” offerings to develop full-fledged automated call centers of their own.

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