‘Alexa Shop Assist’ can answer your product questions

What Next?

‘Netflix is a Joke’ billboards are cleverly explained during the Emmys

Plain billboards in Los Angeles and New York stating that ‘Netflix is a joke’ rattled plenty of commuters and captured social media attention before it was uncovered that it was a campaign run by the streaming giant. During the Emmy Awards, Netflix delivered the punchline with a 60-second TV spot touting the streaming service’s increasing stand-up comedy offerings. The ad features comedians Jerry Seinfield, Ellen DeGeneres, Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle appearing in scenes from popular Netflix original dramas including ‘House of Cards’, ‘Stranger Things’, ‘Orange is the New Black’ and ‘The Crown’. The comics invade intense scenes and drop jokes in the midst of heavy drama, and bring to light a new way of viewing your favourite series. Netflix has recently had a strong focus on stand-up comedy, so naturally all the comedians featured have stand-up specials that are scheduled to premiere on the streaming service soon. Check out the ad below.

Autoplay sound is coming to Instagram (if you turn it on)

Autoplay audio can have mixed reviews. It’s either annoying or convenient, but Instagram may have just struck a happy medium with its new update. The platform will remember what your preference is during any given Instagram browsing session (autoplay video sound or no autoplay video sound), and maintain that preference throughout your whole time on the app in that sitting. So, if you turn on the sound on any given video (by clicking on the speaker icon), Instagram will remember that choice and play all the subsequent videos with sound on. You can easily shut it up by clicking the speaker icon again, or the whole app will reset once you close out of it. The feature is all to make sure that users are enjoying their Instagram experience with as minimal fiddling as possible, so get out your headphones! This update doesn’t affect Instagram Stories – the sound will only play here if the smartphone is unmuted.

The Block’s finishing first

Programs Station Audience
THE BLOCK -SUN Ch 9 1,752,274
LITTLE BIG SHOTS Ch 7 1,337,182
THE BLOCK -MON Ch 9 1,323,499
THE BLOCK -TUE Ch 9 1,186,653
THE BLOCK -WED Ch 9 1,118,477
THE BACHELOR AUSTRALIA GRAND FINALE – THE FINAL DECISION Ch 10 1,114,177
THE BACHELOR AUSTRALIA GRAND FINALE Ch 10 979,687
GRUEN-EV ABC 900,689
THIS TIME NEXT YEAR Ch 9 816,448
THE BACHELOR AUSTRALIA WED Ch 10 816,172

Date period: 10/09/17 – 16/09/17

Will you be buying the iPhone X?

If you haven’t heard about Apple’s special edition phone, the iPhone X (pronounced iPhone “Ten”), here’s a quick recap of some of its new exciting features. Firstly, the screen takes up the whole phone, which means there is no home button. A swipe up or tap on the screen will get it started instead. To unlock the phone without a home button, Apple has introduced facial recognition or ‘Face ID’. When you glance at the phone, it will illuminate your face, making it ready for an infrared camera to identify it. It’s even been boasted to work in the dark and is not confused by hairstyles, hats, beards or ‘most’ sunglasses. Of course, like all iPhone upgrades, the quality of the camera has increased, with a dual lens 12-megapixel rear camera and a 7-megapixel front camera that now supports Portrait mode. There’s also an updated image signal processor, new augmented reality features and improved video resolution. The battery promises to deliver 2 hours more than the iPhone 7 Plus and uses a wireless charging mat to charge the phone, a set of AirPods and Apple Watch all at the same time. For the full list of the new iPhone’s features, click here. Australians will be able to pre-order the iPhone X on the 27th of October with prices starting from $1,579, the most expensive iPhone yet. So, will you be buying the iPhone X?

Snapchat’s Bitmoji avatars come to life with new AR update

Snapchat’s loved Bitmoji avatars now come with their own three dimensional animations. Snapchat acquired Bitmoji last year and has already introduced profile avatars, personalized stickers and the recent ‘Snap Map’ where users can see where their friends are. Now, simply tapping on your phone’s screen and bringing up the lenses menu will allow users to project a 3D cartoon of themselves into the real world. The animations can ride skateboards, drink coffee, do yoga and a range of other activities. Once you’ve created your animation, you can easily send it to friends or post it to your story. This update reflects Snapchat’s continued investment in Bitmoji and ‘World Lenses,’ which according to Snap Inc., more than a third of their 173 million users actively use on Snapchat daily. Now users can use Bitmoji and World Lenses in conjunction, which in turn gives users a very personal way to experience augmented reality.

Jaguar’s new concept hosts a portable AI-powered steering wheel

Jaguar’s new Future-Type concept car proves that the British automaker is envisioning an era where cars normally drive themselves and you don’t necessarily need to own one. The vehicle has options for fully autonomous or assisted manual driving options, a narrow body design and a removable steering wheel called ‘Sayer’ that has its own AI system. Sayer is removable and can act as a music player, smart assistant, mobile device and a steering wheel. It’s designed to act as a ‘concierge’ and you can talk to it using voice commands, summon a vehicle (whether or not it’s your own car) and control your smart home. For example, you could tell Sayer when you have an appointment and it will figure out when a car needs to pick you up from home. As with any concept, this is only a vision of the automotive future, but it does focus on the potential of shared transportation services.

‘Alexa Shop Assist’ can answer your product questions

Have you ever gotten lost in a large retail store and struggled to find a sales assistant to help you find the product you want? That’s the idea the hack ‘Alexa Shop Assist’ aims to solve, which was the recent winner of the TechCrunch Disrupt 2017 hackathon in San Francisco. The system utilizes two AWS Lambda functions, speaker recognition and a context switched response tree, which is all tied together through an iOS app that uses the Alexa Skill Set and Alexa Voice Service. If brought to a retail environment, there would be Alexa-powered devices throughout the store, which a shopper could go up to and ask for help. In a demo, Alexa was shown responding to a query about finding engine oil for a Prius, where she answered, “Engine oil for Prius is in Aisle 5.” Although some retail stores already have apps outlining their live store inventory and map, Alexa Shop Assist would allow shoppers to simply user their voice rather than the search function of an app. Interestingly, the system can identify characteristics in the speaker’s voice so they can then follow the shopper throughout their store visit and answer follow up questions. Although the hack is not a finished product yet, the idea is fairly innovative.

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