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MWC: Huawei debuts new laptop and tablet

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Huawei has unveiled its MateBook X Pro and MediaPad M5 Series at this year’s Mobile World Congress which boast new generation processors, faster graphics cards, longer lasting batteries and a richer sound to boot.

Both the Huawei MateBook X Pro and Huawei MediaPad M5 blend crisp and clear displays, powerful hardware updates and intelligent software advances:

Huawei provided the following information:

·         Huawei MateBook X Pro:

The Huawei MateBook X Pro is an ultra-slim, yet full-featured 13.9-inch notebook with an all-new 3K touch-enabled HUAWEI FullView Display and 91 percent screen-to-body ratio. Powered by an 8th Generation Intel Core i7/i5 processor, a discrete NVIDIA GeForce MX150 GPU with 2GB GDDR5 and a long-lasting 57.4Wh (Typical Capacity) battery – the Huawei MateBook X Pro is one of the lightest and most powerful notebooks on the market. The Huawei MateBook X Pro features Dolby Atmos Sound System and custom speakers that deliver breakthrough, immersive audio for sound to flow above and around you, making you feel like you’re inside the action.

·         Huawei MediaPad M5 Series:

Ergonomically designed with a 2.5D glass screen and 2K HD, ClariVu 5.0-enhanced display, the sleek and powerful 8.4-inch and 10.8-inch tablets feature speakers tuned by Harman Kardon. Huawei Histen technology provides immersive 3D audio and fully supports Hi-Res audio for exceptional sound quality. The 10.8-inch Huawei MediaPad M5 Pro comes with an ultra-precise Huawei M-Pen featuring 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity to make note-taking effortless.

“Today’s consumers want more: they expect their technology to be both powerful and adaptable – and Huawei is committed to creating devices that not only meet these expectations, but create experiences that make everyday computing extraordinary,” said Richard Yu, CEO, Huawei Consumer Business Group. “The Huawei MateBook X Pro and HUAWEI MediaPad M5 Series are at the forefront of a new generation of mobile computing that empowers every aspect of your life.”

Huawei MateBook X Pro

The Huawei MateBook X Pro is the first notebook to feature Huawei FullView Display. The 13.9-inch 3K notebook featuring an all-new 10-point touchscreen has a 3000 x 2000 pixel resolution and is set at a 3:2 aspect ratio, perfect for content creation. Its stylish metallic body design is crafted with perfect diamond cutting and sandblasting finishing to create an ultra-slim body that is just 14.6mm thin and weighs 1.33 kg, making it comfortable to carry. The Huawei MateBook X Pro is available in two iconic colours: Space Gray and Mystic Silver.

The premium design of the Huawei MateBook X Pro is matched by its performance. Featuring a powerful 8th Generation Intel Core i7/i5 processor and a discrete NVIDIA GeForce MX150 GPU with 2GB GDDR5, it is one of the most powerful and lightweight notebooks on the market. The Huawei MateBook X Pro features Dolby Atmos Sound System – breakthrough, immersive audio with Dolby Atmos and custom speakers. A 57.4Wh (Typical Capacity) battery and Huawei’s low power consumption design provide up to 12 hours of 1080P video playback, 14 hours of regular work or 15 hours of web browsing.

Huawei has applied many of its innovative smartphone technologies to the Huawei MateBook X Pro to create effortless and intuitive user experiences. Pioneered by Huawei for the Huawei MateBook Series, the Huawei MateBook X Pro features the super-fast power button 2.0 which enables login in just 7.8 seconds from power off, and 6.6 seconds from hibernation. In addition, the Huawei MateBook X Pro features the world’s first recessed camera which discreetly sits on the keyboard – to activate it, all users need to do is press it and it will pop up, ensuring privacy when it’s not being used. This contributes greatly to the perfect experience of FullView Display. A multi-purpose adapter supports USB-C fast charging widely used in smartphones, meaning users only need to bring one charger when travelling for even greater portability. By developing a high-speed transport protocol, Huawei Share enables users to exchange photos and files quickly, easily and safely, without USB compatibility problems. The Wi-Fi transfer speed is up to 20Mbps, 100 times faster than that of Bluetooth.

Huawei MediaPad M5 Series

The Huawei MediaPad M5 Series is the world first tablet featuring a 2.5D glass screen for outstanding viewing experiences and great hand-feel. Both the 8.4- and 10.8-inch tablets take the iconic design of the Series to the next level with a sleek metal uni-body and U-shaped antenna design that is ergonomic and aesthetically pleasing. They are available in two colors: Champagne Gold and Space Gray.

With the Huawei MediaPad M5, users can take a world of immersive entertainment experiences with them wherever they go. The 2K and ClariVu 5.0-enhanced display captures even the subtlest details while intelligent algorithms ensure videos stay crisp and clear. The MediaPad M5 comes with two speakers on the 8.4-inch version and four speakers on the 10.8-inch version, tuned by Harman Kardon and Huawei Histen for immersive 3D sound. The support from Hi-Res audio when listening through headphones allows music to be experienced the way artists intended.

The Huawei MediaPad M5 is powered by a Kirin 960 Series processor for peak performance whether gaming, browsing the web or catching up on emails. EMUI 8.0 ensures a clean and user-friendly experience. A long-lasting battery – 5,100 mAh for 8.4-inch and 7,500 mAh for 10.8-inch – is augmented with Huawei QuickCharge technology.

Android has been optimized for productivity on the 10.8-inch Huawei MediaPad M5 with a ‘Desktop View’ experience that improves navigation for productivity-related activities. This includes a Taskbar and easy access to files for sharing and editing. The 10.8-inch HUAWEI MediaPad M5 also features ‘Pogo Pins’ that allow a keyboard to be connected, improving productivity even further.

Exclusively available with the 10.8-inch Huawei MediaPad M5 Pro is a Huawei M-Pen featuring 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity to make note-taking more realistic, easier and effortless.

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IoT at tipping point

We have long been in the hype phase of IoT, but it is finally taking on a more concrete form illustrating its benefits to business and the public at large, says PAUL RUINAARD, Country Manager at Nutanix Sub-Saharan Africa.

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People have become comfortable with talking to their smartphones and tasking these mini-computers to find the closest restaurants, schedule appointments, and even switch on their connected washing machines while they are stuck in traffic.

This is considerable progress from those expensive (and dated) robotic vacuum cleaners that drew some interest a few years ago. Yes, being able to automate cleaning the carpets held promise, but the reality failed to deliver on those expectations.

However, people’s growing comfort when it comes to talking to machines and letting them complete menial tasks is not what the long-anticipated Internet of Things (IoT) is about. It really entails taking connectedness a step further by getting machines to talk to one another in an increasingly digital world filled with smart cities, devices, and ways of doing things.

We have long been in the hype phase of IoT, but it is finally taking on a more concrete form illustrating its benefits to business and the public at large. The GSM Association predicts that Africa will account for nearly 60 percent of the anticipated 30 billion connected IoT devices by 2020.

Use cases across the continent hold much promise. In agriculture, for example, placing sensors in soil enable farmers to track acidity levels, temperature, and other variables to assist in improving crop yields. In some hotels, infrared sensors are being used to detect body heat so cleaning staff now when they can enter a room. In South Africa, connected cars (think telematics) are nothing new. Many local insurers use the data generated to reward good driver behaviour and penalise bad ones with higher premiums.

Data management

The proliferation of IoT also means huge opportunity for businesses. According to the IDC, the market opportunity for IoT in South Africa will grow to $1.7 billion by 2021. And with research from Statista showing that retail IoT spending in the country is expected to grow to $60 million by the end of this year (compared to the $41 million of 2016), there is significant potential for connected devices once organisations start to unlock the value of the data being generated.

But before we get a real sense of what our newly-connected world will look like and the full picture of the business opportunities IoT will create, we need to put the right resources in place to manage it. With IoT comes data, more than we can realistically imagine, and we are already creating more data than ever before.

Processing data is something usually left to ‘the IT person’. However, if business leaders want to join the IoT game, then it is something they must start thinking about. Sure, there are several ways to process data but they all link back to a data centre, that room or piece of equipment in the office, or the public data centre down the road. Most know it is there but little else, other than it has something to do with data and computers.

Data centres are the less interesting but very essential tools in all things technology. They run the show, and without them we would not be able to do something as simple as send an email, let alone create an intricate system of connected devices that constantly communicate with each other.

Traditionally, data centres have been large, expensive and clunky machines. But like everything in technology, they have been modernised over the years and have become smaller, more powerful, and more practical for the digital demands of today.

Computing on the edge

Imagine real-time face scanning being used at the Currie Cup final or the Chiefs and Pirates derby. Just imagine more than a thousand cameras in action, working in real time scanning tens of thousands of faces from different angles, creating data all along the way and integrating with other technology such as police radios and in-stadium services.

As South Africans, we know all too well that the bandwidth to process such a large amount of data through traditional networks is simply not good enough to work efficiently. And while it can be run through a large core or public data centre, the likelihood of one of those being close to the stadium is minimal. Delays, or ‘latency and lag time’, are not an option in this scenario; it must work in real time or not at all.

So, what can be done? The answer lies in edge computing. This is where computing is brought closer to the devices being used. The edge refers to devices that communicate with each other. Think of all those connected things the IoT has become known for: things like mobile devices, sensors, fitness trackers, laptops, and so on. Essentially anything that is ‘remote’ that links to the Web or other devices falls under this umbrella. For the most part, edge computing refers to smaller data centres (those in the edge) that can process the data required for things like large-scale facial recognition.

At some point in the future, there could be an edge data centre at Newlands or The Calabash that processes the data in real time. It would, of course, also be connected to other resources such as a public or private cloud environment, but the ‘heavy lifting’ is done where the action is taking place.

Unfortunately, there are not enough of these edge resources in place to match our grand IoT ambitions. Clearly, this must change if we are to continue much further down the IoT path.

Admittedly, edge computing is not the most exciting part of the IoT revolution, but it is perhaps the most necessary component of it if there is to be a revolution at all.

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Don’t panic! Future of work is still human

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The digital age, and the new technologies it’s brought with it – blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, augmented reality and virtual reality – is seen by many as a threat to our way of life as we know it. What if my job gets automated? How will I stay relevant? How do we adapt to the need for new skills to manage customer expectations and the flood of data that’s washing over us?

The bad news is that the nature of work has already changed irrevocably. Everything that can be automated, will be. We already live in an age of “robot restaurants”, where you order on a touch screen, and machines cook and serve your food. Did you notice the difference? AmazonGo is providing shopping without checkout lines. In the US alone, there are an estimated 3.4 million drivers that could be replaced by self-driving vehicles in 10 years, including truck drivers, taxi drivers and bus drivers.

We’re not immune from this phenomenon in Africa. In fact, the World Economic Forum (WEF) predicts that 41% of all work activities in South Africa are susceptible to automation, compared to 44% in Ethiopia, 46% in Nigeria and 52% in Kenya. This doesn’t mean millions of jobs on the continent will be automated overnight, but it’s a clear indicator of the future direction we’re taking.

The good news is that we don’t need to panic. What’s important for us in South Africa, and the continent, is to realise that there is plenty of work that only humans can do. This is particularly relevant to the African context, as the working-age population rises to 600 million in 2030 from 370 million in 2010. We have a groundswell of young people who need jobs – and the digital age has the ability to provide them, if we start working now.

Make no mistake, there’s no doubt that this so-called “Fourth Industrial Revolution” is going to disrupt many occupations. This is perfectly natural: every Industrial Revolution has made some jobs redundant. At the same time, these Revolutions have created vast new opportunities that have taken us forward exponentially.

Between 2012 and 2017, for example, it’s estimated that the demand for data analysts globally grew by 372%, and the demand for data visualisation skills by more than 2000%. As businesses, this means we have to not only create new jobs in areas like data science and analytics, but reskill our existing workforces to deal with the digital revolution and its new demands.

So, while bus drivers and data clerks are looking over their shoulders nervously right now, we’re seeing a vast range of new jobs being created in fields such as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), data analysis, computer science and engineering.

This is a challenge for Sub-Saharan Africa, where our levels of STEM education are still not where they should be. That doesn’t mean there are no opportunities to be had. In the region, for example, we have a real opportunity to create a new generation of home-grown African digital creators, designers and makers, not just “digital deliverers”. People who understand African nuances and stories, and who not only speak local languages, but are fluent in digital.

This ability to bridge the digital and physical worlds, as it were, will be the new gold for Africa. We need more business operations data analysts, who combine deep knowledge of their industry with the latest analytical tools to adapt business strategies. There will also be more demand for user interface experts, who can facilitate seamless human-machine interaction.

Of course, in the longer term, we in Africa are going to have to make some fundamental decisions about how we educate people if we’re going to be a part of this brave new world. Governments, big business and civil society will all have roles to play in creating more future-ready education systems, including expanded access to early-childhood education, more skilled teachers, investments in digital fluency and ICT literacy skills, and providing robust technical and vocational education and training (TVET). This will take significant intent not only from a policy point of view, but also the financial means to fund this.

None of this will happen overnight. So what can we, as individuals and businesspeople, do in the meantime? A good start would be to realise that the old models of learning and work are broken. Jenny Dearborn, SAP’s Global Head of Learning, talks about how the old approach to learning and work was generally a three-stage life that consisted largely of learn-work-retire.

Today, we live in what Ms Dearborn calls the multi-stage life, which includes numerous phases of learn-work-change-learn-work. And where before, the learning was often by rote, because information was finite, learning now is all about critical thinking, complex problem-solving, creativity and innovation and even the ability to un-learn what you have learned before.

Helping instill this culture of lifelong learning, including the provision of adult training and upskilling infrastructure, is something that all companies can do, starting now. The research is clear: even if jobs are stable or growing, they are going through major changes to their skills profile. WEF’s Future of Jobs analysis found that, in South Africa alone, 39% of core skills required across all occupations will be different by 2020 compared to what was needed to perform those roles in 2015.

This is a huge wake-up call to companies to invest meaningfully in on-the-job training to keep their people – and themselves – relevant in this new digital age. There’s no doubt that more learning will need to take place in the workplace, and greater private sector involvement is needed. As employers, we have to start working closely with should therefore offer schools, universities and even non-formal education to provide learning opportunities to our workers.

We can also drive a far stronger focus on the so-called “soft skills”, which is often used as a slightly dismissive term in the workplace. The core skills needed in today’s workplace are active listening, speaking, and critical thinking. A quick look at the WEF’s “21st Century Skills Required For The Future Of Work” chart bears this out: as much as we need literacy, numeracy and IT skills to make sense of the modern world of work, we also need innately human skills like communication and collaboration. The good news is that not only can these be taught – but they can be taught within the work environment.

It sounds almost counter-intuitive, but to be successful in the Digital Age, businesses are going to have to go back to what has always made them strong: their people. Everyone can buy AI, build data warehouses, and automate every process in sight. The companies that will stand out will be those that that focus on the things that can’t be duplicated by AI or machine learning – uniquely human skills.

I have no doubt that the future will not be humans OR robots: it will be humans AND robots, working side by side. For us, as businesspeople and children of the African continent, we’re on the brink of a major opportunity. We just have to grasp it.

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