Google plans to bring ‘Smart Reply’ feature to all messaging apps

Representational Image
Image Credit: Techcrunch

Smart Reply is an artificial intelligence (A.I.) powered technology that automatically creates responses to a user’s inbound messages. It made its debut in Google’s email client inbox around two years ago, eventually reaching Gmail, Android messages on Project Fi, and finally, Allo. In the latest development, Google’s internal incubator Area 120 is attempting to bring this feature to all chat applications.

This current project is titled “Reply” and its availability will initially be restricted to Android users. It will offer suggested responses to questions like “Are you at the restaurant?,” or “When can you be home?” To come up with these suggestions, ‘Reply’ will take into consideration the user’s current location and the time it will perhaps take in going from one place to another.

Notably, Reply won’t be exclusively for Google’s own messaging apps. Going by the statement made by Area 120, the plan is to offer support for Reply within numerous mainstream chat apps such as Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Skype, Hangouts, Allow, Twitter DMs, and Skype, among others.

“One of the many projects that we’re working on within Area 120 is Reply, which suggests smart replies right in notifications from various chat apps,” a Google spokesperson said. “Like all other projects within Area 120, it’s a very early experiment so there aren’t many details to share right now.”

Sources: androidpolice, digitaltrends

Amazon said to have paid $90 million to acquire maker of Blink Security cameras

Amazon plans to use the chips Blink have for their in-house devices
Image Source: AP Images Inc. has acquired the maker of Blink security cameras for $90 million (Rs 580 crores), in a secret bet on the startup’s energy-efficient chips, as reported by Reuters.

The foundation and the price tag of the deal highlights how Amazon is vying to sell more than just the next big camera. Amazon is venturing into using the exclusive Blink chips, which could extend the battery life of gadgets and lower the cost of production. The online retailer is looking to work on its Cloud Cam and then tap into its Echo speakers using the Blink chips.

The in-house devices that Amazon develops are done with a view of building strong relationships with its customers. Both, the Cloud Cam and the Echo Speakers require power source through plug-ins.

The technology developed at Blink enables their cameras to work for 2 years at a stretch using just one pair of AA lithium batteries. This acquisition could give birth to a generation of gadgets that are heavy on direct current, thereby increasing the portability of the gadgets.

The deal so far hasn’t gathered significant attention. The camera producer declared its takeover by Amazon with inadequate details of interest in a December 21 blog entry.

Examiners have seen Blink as a component of the retailer’s technique for Amazon Key, another program where customers can set up a smart lock and reconnaissance camera so deliveries can be done by slipping bundles inside their homes when they are away. Amazon additionally observes opportunity in the surveillance camera market as home innovation extends.

Sources: NDTV, Indian Express

Hyundai launches the Elite i20 in Auto Expo 2018

The new Elite i20 will be available in 6 options with brand new alloy wheels
Image Source: Outlook

With winter coming to an end, the Auto Expo in Delhi has started. Like every year, there will be a launch of some fabulous cars, including Mercedes, Toyota and many more. Apart from the luxury cars, this year also witnessed the launch of the new Elite i20 model by Hyundai Motor Company.

This premium car was launched on February 7, Wednesday. Director of Sales and Marketing, Hyundai India Pvt.Ltd, Rakesh Srivastava was present at the launch.

Elite i20 is a revised version of the preceding model with a few modifications on features and an enhancement in appearance.

Pronounced changes can be figured out from the face of the car itself. The highlighting features being a new black cascading grille, a redesigned headlamp with LED daytime running lights, bumper with inbuilt spoiler and an arrow-head fog lamp housing. The body of the car gives out a stylish muscular look with the sculpted doors and new alloy wheels. The rear looks somewhat different with bigger tail lamps and newly designed tailgate.

The interior of this new model did go through significant changes and looks more superior compared to the old one. In this new model, the center console features a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system that supports inbuilt navigation and connectivity devices including Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Elite i20 is also equipped with 6 airbags, parking assist and auto door lock at high speed, all these features will provide the passengers with maximum safety.

Mileage of this new model is 1.2 litre in case of petrol and 1.4 litres in that of diesel. The higher variants have a CTV automatic gearbox. However, the lower variants have a manual transmission.

The petrol variant of the Elite i20 starts from Rs. 5.35 lakh, going up to Rs. 7.91 lakh. While the diesel model lies within the range of Rs. 6.73 lakh to Rs. 9.16 lakh. Bookings for this new Hyundai launch is open.

Overall, this new model is nothing more than a modified version of its predecessor.

Sources: News18, Times of India

Space X launches the world’s most powerful rocket, Falcon Heavy

Space X launches Falcon Heavy at Kennedy Space Center
Image Source: SpaceX

On 6th February, around 3.45 pm ET, Space X launched Falcon Heavy, believed to be the world’s most powerful rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was made up of three core stages powered by nine engines each, which when fired up presented a dazzling sight for the onlookers.

“I’m still trying to absorb everything that happened because it’s still kind of surreal to me,” Elon Musk who helms the pioneering rocket firm told reporters after the launch.

Thousands of people gathered to witness the historic launch streamed live by the company that gained over 3 million views. Apart from the rocket’s smooth take off, what made the event truly spectacular was the sight of two of the three Falcon 9 core stages that had aided in propelling the rocket into lower atmosphere, land side by side on the launch pad almost 8 minutes after the launch.  This is part of Space X’s strategy to cut down the cost of launches by reusing recaptured boosters for future launches. The central core stage however crashed into the Atlantic as it ran out of propellant during its descent.

On board the spacecraft is Musk’s personal Tesla Roadster which he intends to launch into an orbit around the sun. In the live video streaming of the car on YouTube, a space-suited mannequin “Starman” could be seen in the driver’s seat with a “DON’T PANIC” sign on the dashboard.

Musk had earlier said that the car would play David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” on repeat. The Tesla is a substitute for the typical dummy payloads or mass simulators that new rockets carry on their maiden flights.

Provided Space X can establish Heavy’s reliability, it could prove to be a game changer for the company by drawing in a number of possible customers including NASA.

Sources: Money.CNN, CBS

Whatsapp likely to start digital payment service by end of February

WhatsApp may launch its much awaited payment feature by the end of February this year – thus providing the biggest boost so far to digital payments in India. The Facebook-owned messaging company is currently integrating its Unified Payments Interface (UPI) with prominent banks in the country such as HDFC, State Bank of India, ICICI and Axis bank.

WhatApp had obtained the green signal from the government to integrate with the UPI in July 2017. According to Economic Times, the feature is already in beta (testing) stages with one of the partner banks; depending on its performance during the trials, the service will be made available to the users. In the face of frequent reports of Aadhaar data leaks, the feature is undergoing rigorous security checks to ensure safety of user’s bank data. One of the senior bankers involved in the integration process told ET, “To be able to send money as easily as a text message involves ensuring various levels of encryption to keep the data safe.”

Once functional, WhatsApp will join the likes of Google Tez, PhonePe, Paytm, and the government’s BHIM app (Bharat Interface for Money). Being the most widely used social messaging app in India, it is expected to bring a large section of the previously inaccessible population of the country under the digital payment ecosystem.

UPI emerged as one of the fastest growing interfaces for performing online transactions following the demonetisation drive in November 2016.

Sources: Times Now, Economic Times

Random Crash Issues Plaguing Google Chromecast Users’ Experience

Numerous Google Chromecast users have claimed to face random crashes on their WiFi networks. The router vendors have acknowledged the pressing issue and are in the process of pushing out patches to ensure seamless user experience. The aggravating issue seems to affect Google Home devices in addition to Chromecast. The problem’s origin lies in Google’s ‘Cast’ feature.

According to NDTV Gadgets 360, TP-Link engineers in an FAQ listing have elucidated that the issue is faced due to multicast DNS (MDNS) packets. High volumes of MDNS are broadcasted, via Google Chromecast and Home, in a short duration of time at tremendous speeds. Conventionally, the MDNS packets get sent out in 20-second intervals. The broadcast is executed when the device is brought out of ‘sleep mode’. This process could possibly surpass over 100,000 packets in a short duration. The size of the packet burst is directly proportional to the amount of time the device is in ‘sleep mode’. This predicament might ultimately cause a router’s prime features to cease from functioning, including wireless connectivity

As per NewsEleven, apart from TP-Link, Netgear and Linksys have also moved forward to release beta firmware updates that mend the connectivity mishaps as a result of Google’s Cast feature. The recent network issues have had more compelling negative consequences. Users on Reddit have confirmed erratic disconnection of the network on all devices connected to the wireless hub that powers their Chromecast. An identical outcome has been discovered with Chromecast Audio as well.

Google Product Forums’ users were initially convinced that the problem occurred particularly with networks powered by the Archer C7. However, TP-Link’s analysis debunked these conclusions with the constructive information they offered.

Sources: NDTV Gadgets 360, NewsEleven

Nvidia teams up with Volkswagen and Uber in Self Driving Technology

Graphics chips designer, Nvidia Corp is going to partner with Uber, Volkswagen and Baidu, Chinese web Service Company to develop self-driving cars. This is an attempt by Nvidia’s artificial intelligence unit to expand into the autonomous vehicle trade. The company is already in trusts with carmaker Tesla for creating the technology of driverless cars.

At 2018, Consumer Electronics Show held in Las Vegas, CEO of Nvidia Jensen Huang announced that the instantaneous decisions taken by Uber’s self-driving cars operate on Nvidia technology. Since their first test on Volvo SC90 SUVs in 2016, Uber has been utilizing Nvidia’s GPU (graphics processing unit) computing system. Talking about the progress of Uber’s autonomous driving program, Nvidia claimed that in the past 100 days, one million miles had been covered. Huang also revealed that self –driving start-up Aurora will be using Nvidia’s latest Xavier processor in their vehicle systems. The Xavier processor which is also called as Volta is a highly advanced form of artificial intelligence with a faster and comprehensive structure. In the coming months, Nvidia will distribute powerful processors that will entail 30 trillion operations per millisecond with the usage of only 30 watts of power supply.

Volkswagen is said to incorporate Nvidia’s Drive IX platform, an artificial intelligence technology in their upcoming cars. This mechanism will provide a smart co-navigator facility determined by sensor data inside and outside the car. Drive IX will enhance the car with features like unlocking through facial recognition, gesture controls and voice assistance.

Globally, around 320 companies, including software designers and automakers are working in collaboration with Nvidia towards developing the driverless technology. Charting its growth, this Silicon Valley company will emerge as a leader in chips for driverless vehicles, data houses and artificial intelligence.


Sources: CNBC, Reuters