Driverless Cars Are Getting Smarter

Specialized computer chips are giving cars more brainpower to rapidly crunch data and assess their next move. Chip makers are designing new silicon that can run artificial intelligence software to speed up computing tasks, both in the car and in the cloud.

The first place to look for extra smarts: Data centers that are adding AI chips that will improve driverless software. Tech giants Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft, along with Chinese companies Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent, are racing to scoop up the server chips for their massive data centers around the globe. The chips accelerate data-intensive tasks, such as running voice recognition and analyzing photos, while using less power. Continue reading “Driverless Cars Are Getting Smarter”

Emerging Wireless Tech is Revving Up the Internet of Things

The rise of the Internet of Things isn’t just about superfast speeds and vast data transmissions. New options for transmitting small amounts of data at slower speeds also have the potential to transform billions of everyday products by connecting them to the web for the first time.

Advances in low-power wireless technology will spark stronger sales of connected products, from mobile medical kits to warehouse lighting. The companies involved in the design of wireless chips and the products they go into are vying to establish themselves as the go-to suppliers for these nascent markets. To conserve power, the radio signals involved work at much slower speeds and pass along far less data. The chips are designed to run off of batteries for up to 10 years by going into a “deep sleep” power-saving mode. Continue reading “Emerging Wireless Tech is Revving Up the Internet of Things”

Will Apple’s Next Smartphone Be a Hit?

Apple faces a huge test next month. The world’s largest company will unveil an updated edition of its flagship product, the iPhone. The question is, can Apple’s latest model “wow” consumers and investors alike?

Apple’s near-term success rides on the fate of the new phone. The iPhone first came on the scene in 2007 and has become Apple’s profit engine, accounting for a whopping 60%-70% the company’s sales. Much of Apple’s ecosystem, from apps to music, stems from the device. The new phone debuts in early September and starts shipping soon after. Here’s what to expect: Continue reading “Will Apple’s Next Smartphone Be a Hit?”

Who Profits from Cord Cutting?

There’s no end in sight to paid TV customers joining the cord cutters in droves. The media business, reeling from the upheaval, is racing to adjust to this swift disruption that is rerouting billions of dollars in advertising, subscriptions and programming fees from traditional TV firms to tech giants and others.

A new set of winners is likely to emerge in the aftermath of the shake-up as incumbents try to ward off rising startups and tech behemoths. Count on even more turmoil over the next five to 10 years as new technology emerges, from virtual reality to next-generation 5G wireless, that further upends the way people consume media.

Continue reading “Who Profits from Cord Cutting?”

Broadband Providers are Gearing Up to Profit from Relaxed Web Rules

Fierce competition in mobile broadband. A steady decline in cable subscribers. New technology that drives down data prices. Hugely expensive infrastructure costs. An uncertain road to next-generation 5G wireless.

Those are just some of the challenges wired and wireless broadband providers are facing. Now those telecom firms are breathing a sigh of relief and gearing up to launch new services and enter new markets in a big way. Regulatory rollbacks will benefit web providers. But the path forward won’t be easy. Continue reading “Broadband Providers are Gearing Up to Profit from Relaxed Web Rules”

5 Bright Spots in Cybersecurity

I’ve been quick to point out that digital security threats are on the rise. Hackers are getting more sophisticated, connected devices are shipping with shoddy defenses and the number of attacks is rising.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. In fact, there are some bright spots in the digital security realm. I got an up-close look at some of the latest and greatest cybersecurity technologies and trends at a security conference held last week in Washington, D.C., by market research firm Gartner.

Here are five positive trends about cybersecurity today that I gleaned from listening to security experts for a day. Continue reading “5 Bright Spots in Cybersecurity”

Are Robotic Suits Coming to Your Workplace?

When someone mentions home improvement giant Lowe’s, you might picture vast aisles of paint, plywood and garden supplies. But soon, thoughts of Lowe’s might conjure up images of Iron Man. The retailer is dabbling in robotics through its high-tech research lab that tests a slew of emerging technologies. Its latest project: Productivity-boosting robotic suits known as exoskeletons.

Lowe’s isn’t the only company expressing interest. Exoskeletons will be tested by more and more companies in the coming years. Workers at BMW, FedEx and Amazon are already using suits, according to Kasthuri Jagadeesan, research director of the TechVision Group at Frost & Sullivan. But more testing is needed for wider adoption. “You have to have serious trials,” says Dan Kara, research director at ABI Research. Kara says trials uncover important issues such as how much the suit chafes, how rugged it is and how hard it is to put on and take off. Continue reading “Are Robotic Suits Coming to Your Workplace?”

The Killer App for Super-Fast Broadband? Virtual Reality

Internet providers are betting on data-hungry devices to spur consumer demand for super-fast internet. Executives at companies that provide broadband internet expect virtual and augmented reality, the next big consumer technologies, to keep consumers hooked on pricey home internet plans. That’s because immersive experiences with high-end VR will require ultra-fast, high-capacity networks that far outpace today’s average speeds.

Much-improved virtual and augmented reality goggles will boost broadband companies’ sales pitches. A slew of quality consumer headsets—after today’s models are refined to be cheaper, lighter and more powerful—will be available by 2020. Continue reading “The Killer App for Super-Fast Broadband? Virtual Reality”

Brace for More Destructive Cyberattacks

The latest global cyberattack is a harbinger of worse cyber strikes to come. The May 12 attack crippled businesses and governments around the globe, disrupting operations at English hospitals, FedEx, Telefonica and thousands of other organizations. Hackers infiltrated Microsoft Windows computers and held files hostage until a ransom was paid. Their way in? A security flaw buried in machines that lacked the most recent software version. The attack reportedly infected more than 200,000 computers in 150 countries before it was halted.

Cybercriminals are poised to probe other weak spots in the coming months. Criminals and hostile nations have identified security vulnerabilities from data breaches and leaks at U.S. intelligence agencies, including the National Security Agency and CIA. Intelligence agencies stockpile flawed code for their own digital intel efforts, and often don’t share the potential security problems with technology vendors. Security experts warn that this practice is dangerous. If hackers get their hands on the flawed code, they can hijack the info for their own cyber strikes. Continue reading “Brace for More Destructive Cyberattacks”

How an Emerging Type of Biometrics Will Thwart Financial Crooks

The way you swipe and press your smartphone will soon add an extra layer of security. Tech companies are building artificial intelligence software that siphons up data on the unique way you fiddle with your sensor-packed smartphone. The systems are fine-tuned enough to detect how you might favor an old wrist injury, stumble over a certain word while typing or press on the screen while using a certain app. The personal profiles that are churned out are highly accurate for identifying the correct user. The underlying technology stems from a Department of Defense research project. Continue reading “How an Emerging Type of Biometrics Will Thwart Financial Crooks”