Tech / Telecom news — 12 May 2017

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Cloud

Microsoft’s move towards “intelligent cloud, intelligent edge”, the central theme of their Build developer conference, includes an effort to push Azure’s cloud services towards the network edge, e.g. making them run in IoT devices to enable real-time data processing and reducing dependence on “always on” connectivity (Story)

Applications

And lots of additional announcements by Microsoft at day 2 of Build event, including a version of Apple’s “Handoff”, enabling coordination of apps across devices (even iOS ones if they run Cortana), a new motion controller for Virtual Reality, and a new Windows update this year including deeper integration of OneDrive (Story)

Augmented Reality

Enterprise applications look to be a key use case for Microsoft HoloLens, and e.g. Scope AR, a Canadian startup, is launching a platform based on HoloLens that makes it possible for maintenance workers to remotely repair or assemble complex machinery, using tools to present CAD models overlaid on real world objects (Story)

Components

Nvidia keeps exploiting the fact that computer graphics operations at GPU chips are similar to those at deep learning networks. This week they had an amazing stock market rally, and held a conference where they claimed their AI chips are more flexible vs. Google’s recently launched TPU and more efficient than Intel’s new FPGAs (Story)

BIG DATA & ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Privacy

After the announcement this week of the new Amazon Echo Show, now it’s been revealed that the device will “wake up” when it senses someone coming, with its camera as a motion detector. Of course this has plenty of privacy implications, and comments that Amazon “will be watching you” have already been made (Story)

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon have created Privacy Assistant, an Android app using AI to give users more control over data that other apps collect in smartphones. It works by analysing usage data within each device, and asking for users’ preferences, to make specific recommendations on how to manage privacy permissions (Story)

OPERATIONS

At their 1Q17 results presentation yesterday, and still under pressure from Italy accounting scandal and other issues (shares fell -4%), BT announced a restructuring plan including the reduction of 4,000 jobs and a potential dividend cut. CEO’s pay will also be cut from £5.3m to £1.3m, to “give a signal to the organisation” (Story)

M&A MOVES

SoftBank is leading an investment of $502m (at an implicit valuation of more than $1bn) in Improbable, a British startup building a platform (“SpatialOS”) for developers to build “massive-scale virtual worlds or simulate the real world” (including e.g. simulations of internet dynamics), offered from the Google Cloud (Story)

Cisco has announced the acquisition (for $125m) of MindMeld, an AI platform for the creation of bots and voice-powered virtual assistants, which has been called “Siri on steroids”, as it claims to be a “leap forward” in quality of natural language conversations. Google, Telefónica and Liberty Global are among their customers (Story)

Vivendi has offered €2.3bn in cash to acquire a 60% stake in advertising & communications company Havas from Vivendi’s CEO’s own conglomerate Groupe Bolloré, in what many interpret as a step forward in project to build a Southern European media / content powerhouse. It doesn’t look a bad deal for Bolloré himself (Story)