Category Archives: Tech Announcement 2015
“Less than 0.1% of email in the average Gmail inbox is spam, and the amount of wanted mail landing in the spam folder is even lower, at under 0.05%,” Sri Harsha Somanchi, product manager, said in a Google blog post.
“Even still, Gmail spam detection isn’t perfect. So we’re sharing some of the new ways we are supporting the senders of wanted mail, and using the latest Google smarts to filter out spam,” Somanchi further stated.
Google is launching Gmail Postmaster Tools that help qualified high-volume senders analyse their email, including data on delivery errors, spam reports, and reputation. This way they can diagnose any hiccups, study best practices, and help Gmail route their messages to the right place.
The company said the spam filter now uses an artificial neural network to detect and block the especially sneaky spam—the kind that could actually pass for wanted mail.
“We also recognise that not all inboxes are alike. So while your neighbor may love weekly email newsletters, you may loathe them. With advances in machine learning, the spam filter can now reflect these individual preferences,” the blog post reads.
“Finally, the spam filter is better than ever at rooting out email impersonation—that nasty source of most phishing scams. Thanks to new machine learning signals, Gmail can now figure out whether a message actually came from its sender, and keep bogus email at bay.”
That little computer you carry around in your pocket is already your camera, navigation device, instant messaging machine, ride-hailing tool and phone. But it’s very possible that, in the not-so-distant future, what we now refer to as “smartphones“ will actually seem pretty dumb and paper-weighty.
As technology evolves, that mini-computer you are already way too obsessed with is bound to get even more useful. Here are three features that could be in the cell phones of tomorrow.
1. A spectrometer.
What it is: A spectrometer is a tool typically used in physical, chemical and biological research that measures properties of light to analyze an object’s chemical makeup. Until recently, spectrometers were too large to carry around, but that has changed. A company called Consumer Physics introduced a handheld spectrometer named Scio last year, and more recently, MIT announced that scientists at the university have developed a spectrometer small enough to fit inside a smartphone camera.
What it could mean for your smartphone: In a smartphone, a spectrometer could give users an easy and accurate way to detect skin conditions, track a person’s vital signs or identify environmental pollutants. It could also give users a way to find out what’s in their food or medication.
2. Crazy accurate GPS.
What it is: Geolocation technology is already widely used in smartphones. That’s how and why you can follow driving directions with Google maps, get picked up by an Uber, or ask your smartphone to locate the closest Starbucks. But geolocation software developed by engineers at the University of Texas at Austin makes it possible to identify a position accurately to within a centimeter using the inexpensive antenna sensors that are in smartphones. Centimeter-accuracy GPS systems already in existence depend on large and expensive hardware.
What it could mean for your smartphone: Synced with the camera in your smartphone, this down-to-the-centimeter GPS would make it possible to instantly map your surroundings in 3-D, increasing the subtle sophistication of virtual reality technology. Also, centimeter-specific geolocation would allow cars to sense and avoid each other in more nuanced situations.
3. Gas sensors.
What it is: New inexpensive wireless sensors developed by chemists at MIT detect gaseous ammonia, hydrogen peroxide, cyclohexanone and other dangerous gases, and can be read by a smartphone. The sensors are also noteworthy because they don’t need to be plugged in. The technology necessary to read these tags already exists in most smartphones.
What it could mean for your smartphone: The gas-sensor-tag and smartphone reading combo would make it super easy to measure explosive chemicals or hazardous environmental pollutants. The chemical readings from smartphones could be combined with geolocation data to track and map hazardous regions.
Also, a sensor could be fixed to food so that anyone with a smartphone could assess the freshness of food. The sensors could measure chemicals released by rotten or spoiled food.
Honda is hitting the 2015 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in this experimental CR-Z with an electric powertrain driving and steering all four wheels up the twisting mountain route. Honda is running a CR-Z at Pikes Peak this year. But as you might have guessed, this is no ordinary CR-Z. This particular racing prototype packs an experimental powertrain.
Though precise technical specifications remain a closely guarded secret at this point, our source at Honda has confirmed a few key details. For starters, the CR-Z racer packs a fully electric powertrain, ditching the 1.5-liter inline-four that forms the internal-combustion component of the street-legal model’s hybrid propulsion system. This contrary to circulating rumors that it could be packing the hybrid powertrain from the new NSX.
Whatever the details of the electric motor (or motors) on board, they’ll be driving and steering all four wheels through Honda’s proprietary Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) and Precision All-Wheel Steer (P-AWS) systems. The technologies ought to make the CR-Z racer pretty adept at tackling the 156 twists and turns of the world-famous Race to the Clouds. The aero package is obviously pretty aggressive as well, and the bodywork appears to have been modified to an even greater extent than the carbon-fiber prototype we drove in Japan.
Driving duties will be handled by Tetsuya Yamano, a Japanese driver known in the Super GT series (where he won the GT300 title in 2004 in an NSX) and for running Civics in Gymkhana events back in the 90s. It’ll be competing in the Pikes Peak Challenge Exhibition class, but the idea behind the CR-Z prototype is as much about experimentation as it is about results. The project will serve to train some of Honda’s younger engineers. They won’t be alone on the mountain, though, as Honda also recently announced that it would be fielding its new ARX-04b Le Mans prototype at Pikes Peak this year as well.
After several months of occasionally intense competition, Formula E’s first season of all-electric racing is over. Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird has won the second race of the London ePrix, while NEXTEV TCR’s Nelson Piquet managed to do just well enough (seventh place) to win the overall driver’s title by a single point. Not that Piquet’s chief rival, Sebastien Buemi, is about to cry — he secured the team title for E.dams-Renault after winning the first London race on June 27th.
This is a watershed moment for high-profile EV motorsports, although it’s really just the start of something larger. The initial Formula E season required that everyone drive the same car; that’s good for showcasing driver ability, but not so hot for advancing the automotive industry. The gloves will only really come off during season two, when teams can use their own motors and batteries. While it could result in a handful of manufacturers dominating the races (remember Ferrari’s Formula 1 streak?), it should also lead to technological improvements that filter down to electric cars you can buy.
Say goodbye to the calcified, creaky business systems and processes that we’ve come to know and love. They’re being swept away by clouds and mobile systems at an alarming rate. But that’s a positive thing, of course. With this transformation, however, comes a need for deeper knowledge and understanding of the new systems and processes that are driving new businesses, how they interact, and what they are capable of delivering.
In the process, CEO, CFOs and COOs are becoming more immersed in technology decisions, while CIOs and CTOs — and their IT staff members as well — are being asked to join in on high-level decision-making teams.
That’s one of the key takeaways from a recent report published by CompTIA, an IT industry trade group. The report’s authors note that “new technologies such as cloud and mobility account for nearly all projected revenue growth in the IT industry.” The net effect, the report notes, is increased options and increased complexity. This is having an impact on businesses of all sizes, but is especially being felt by leaders of mid-sized companies which were interviewed by the study’s authors for the report.
Business leaders are getting more involved in technology decisions than ever before. To a large extent, many previously non-tech businesses are evolving into technology businesses. A manufacturer of engine components, for example, now relies on software — either developed in-house or purchased — that sets the design points and tolerances of the components being produced on lathes and other machines. An export-import business now engages customers across the globe through e-commerce-based transactions, using sites and tools developed in-house or contracted through the cloud.
To grasp all this new complexity, business leaders will be depending on IT executives and professionals more than ever. This is accelerating the transition of IT departments (and their people) from simply being service departments to technology brokers and active advisers at the highest levels of the business. Corporate IT’s power and influence over business is growing (not waning), but multiple business leaders now have a voice in IT’s direction. “Business unit leaders certainly have more say in IT decisions. But as cloud, mobile, big data and social waves grow larger, central IT will emerge as a service broker to in-house and third-party IT offerings.”
IT’s transformation into an internal service provider is in its infancy and will require several years to complete, the report’s authors predict. “Business executives and employees want self-service applications, but that requires several stages of IT investment,” they state.
At the same time, corporate IT decisions are increasingly made via ad-hoc committees involving multiple business units, the report states. “While CIOs typically make the final call, peer CXOs and business unitleaders have a strong say in how IT systems are aligned to meet corporate goals. Those CXO and business unit voices have even more say if an IT project involves applications (rather than underlying infrastructure).”
This observation gels with another industry report, issued by Technology Business Research (TBR), which posits that business executives are playing greater roles in technology decisions as their organizations grow increasingly dependent on cloud computing services. In the process, the role of IT staff — particularly developers — is being elevated to part of the business leadership team.
The experience of one insurance company CIO was recounted in the CompTIA report:
“Our innovation effort includes three teams of business and IT leaders: (1) one to generate ideas; (2) folks who are tasked with finding the right resources internally to address the ideas and opportunities; and (3) a so-called innovation garage to build the prototype solutions. Five people from IT work in the innovation garage. They rotate in and out on 12- to 18-month schedules. When they rotate back into their specific departments, they have greater skills focused on innovation rather than maintenance.”
This alignment is seen as key to figuring out the best ways to approach cloud, mobile and digital in this brave new world. As the CompTIA report’s authors state, the competitive advantages of these new technology platforms are well understood: “Somewhat similar to public cloud service providers, midmarket businesses are building private clouds that deliver infrastructure and applications on-demand to employees and customers. The resulting hybrid cloud world will further accelerate innovation cycles—allowing businesses to enter new markets more rapidly.”
Thus, there’s a driving demand for business and IT executives, managers and staff to work as one, and “the line between business operations and IT must further blur—and may even disappear in some cases.”
As the CIO of a manufacturing company explained:
“The alignment of business and IT is all about striking the right balance. I think it’s a good balance in our company. It has evolved over time because both sides have gotten wiser. The business has an appreciation for what we’re doing, and we have an appreciation for their needs. In a lot of companies, it’s difficult for CIOs to show the value of IT. They are so focused on keeping the lights on, which means IT is a cost-reduction story rather than an innovation story. Once you commit to innovation cycles between business and IT, the innovation can happen even faster.”
Or, as the CIO of a city government agency expressed it very nicely:
“When you’re growing as a person you’re more inclined to think like an innovator. IT has to help spark that.”