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10 things drones can do for your business

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The rapidly-growing global drone market presents a plethora of opportunities for companies to enhance their operations, or for new businesses to emerge. GIDEON GERBER of Airborne Drones SA outlines ten ways they can benefit a business.

With analysts putting the global market opportunities around drones at anywhere between $11 billion and $13 billion by 2020, organisations across all verticals stand to gain by harnessing the new capabilities unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) deliver. Nearly three million drones will be manufactured this year alone, and the global market revenue for drones is expected to top $11.2 billion by 2020, says Gartner. Goldman Sachs Research expects businesses and civil governments to spend $13 billion on drones by 2020, putting thousands of them in the sky.

Drones have gone beyond military tools and consumer toys. In fact, the biggest demand for drones today is coming out of the commercial and government sectors.

Commercial, long-range drones offer organisations the ability to map, monitor and control large and hard to navigate areas, at a lower cost than through traditional methods and with no risk to employees. The fact that you’re able to get HD aerial feeds and explore highly targeted zones using drones presents significant opportunities for a number of sectors.

There are 10 key areas where drones can offer compelling benefits:

Construction efficiencies – predicted by Goldman Sachs Research to be by far the largest commercial application for drones in the short term, drones offer construction firms and developers efficient new 2D and 3D mapping methods, as well as thermal and multi-spectral imaging and real-time data for Building Information Modelling. This allows for greater efficiencies from pre-construction through to maintenance phase.

Asset management – currently the most compelling drone application for multiple industry verticals is asset management and protection. Whether the assets are power lines, buildings, humans, wildlife or roads, drones are being deployed for rapid, efficient inventory and survey purposes.

Maintenance – Drones support ongoing routine facilities inspections at lower cost and risk, particularly in potentially hazardous areas such as power lines or power plants, or in the case of very tall structures such as radio antennas or bridges. Drones also allows for wear and damage assessments, supported by technologies such as thermal imaging cameras, bypassing the need for ground crews and specialised equipment. They can also be used for routine deliveries of consumables and spares between pre-programmed launch and landing pads, so reducing cost and potential downtime.

Agriculture – advanced agriculture will depend on drone technologies for multiple applications, such as crop and irrigation inspection, precision spraying, mapping and security.

Mapping – for developers, civil engineers and local authorities, drones’ mapping applications offer an efficient geographic survey tool – even across challenging terrain and bodies of water.

Surveys and research – The use of drones for mapping and geographic surveys can also add significant value to marketers and brands researching target areas; as well as to public sector authorities confirming census data or assessing development needs.

Risk monitoring and claims assessment – for the insurance sector, drones offer the ability to efficiently assess population density, natural risk, property values and damages; enabling more accurate forecasting, more competitive products and faster claims resolution.

Safety and security – unlike satellite imaging, traditional aerial surveys or human resources on the ground, drones offer the ability to conduct highly targeted surveillance with live feeds to headquarters and no risk to human life. In high-risk situations, such as civil unrest or natural disaster, drones allow for ongoing assessment of the situation, supporting rapid and appropriate response. Drones can also be deployed for search and rescue purposes, covering ground more effectively than ground teams are able to, and could potentially be used for emergency medical deliveries.

Film and multimedia – already widely is use by film and photography professionals, the potential for drones to add new dimensions to multimedia is significant. Aerial visuals now possible through drones also offer opportunities to the real estate, hospitality and tourism sectors to enhance marketing and communications.

Drones-as-a-service – multiple new business opportunities now exist for the launch of specialist drone surveillance and survey services.

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ConceptD: Creatives get a tech brand of their own

The unveiling of a new brand by Acer recognises the massive computing power needed in creative professions, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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It’s a crisp Spring morning in Brooklyn. The regular water taxi from Manhattan pulls up at Duggal Greenhouse on the edge of the East River. It’s a building that symbolises the rejuvenation of Brooklyn as a hub of artistic and creative expression.

Inside the vast structure, global computer brand Acer is about to unveil its own tribute to creativity. Company CEO Jason Chen takes to the stage in faded blue jeans and brown t-shirt, underlining the connection of the event to the informality of the area.

“Brooklyn is become more and more diverse,” he tells a gathering of press from around the world, attending the Next@Acer media event. “It’s an area that is up and coming. It represents new lifestyles. And our theme today is turning a new chapter for creativity.”

Every year, Next@Acer is a parade of the cutting edge in gaming and educational laptops and computers. New devices from sub-brands like Predator, Helios and Nitro have gamers salivating. This year is no different, but there is a surprise in store, hinted in Chen’s introduction.

As a grand finale, he calls on stage Angelica Davila, whose day job is senior marketing manager for Acer Latin America. But she also happens to have a Masters degree in computer and electric engineering. A stint at Intel, where she joined a sales and marketing programme for engineers, set her on a new path.

Angelica Davila, marketing manager for Acer Latin America

For the last few months, she has been helping write Acer’s next chapter. She has shepherded into being nothing less than a new brand: ConceptD.

Click here to read more about ConceptD.

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Which voice assistant wins battle of translators?

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Take the most famous phrase from the Godfather – “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse” – or “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” from the inaugural address of US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and see just how the virtual assistants do in translating them using their newly introduced Neural Machine Translation (NMT) capabilities. One Hour Translation (OHT), the world’s largest online translation service, conducted a study to find out just how accurate these new services are.

OHT used 60 sentences from movies and famous people ranging from the Godfather and Wizard of Oz to Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon, US presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John Fitzgerald Kennedy and historical figures like Leonardo da Vinci and Aesop. The sentences were translated by Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri from English to French, Spanish, Chinese and German and then given to five professional translators for their assessment on a scale of 1-6. 

Google Assistant scored highest in three of the four languages surveyed – English to French, English to German and English to Spanish and second in English to Chinese.  Amazon’s Alexa, whose translation engine is powered by Microsoft Translator, was tops in the English to Chinese category. Apple’s Siri was second place in English to French and English to Spanish and third place in English to German and English to Chinese.  (See chart). All three virtual assistants are compatible with mobile phones.

“The automated assistants’ translation quality was relatively high, which means that assistants are useful for handling simple translations automatically,” says Yaron Kaufman, chief marketing officer and co-founder of OHT. He predicts that “there is no doubt that the use of assistants is growing rapidly, is becoming a part of our lives and will make a huge contribution to the business world.” 

A lot will depend on further improvements in NMT technology, which has revolutionized the field of translation over the past two years.  All the companies active in the field are investing large sums as part of this effort. “OHT is working with several of the leading NMT providers to improve their engines through the use of its hybrid online translation service that combines NMT and human post-editing,” notes Kaufman. He adds that this will no doubt have a huge impact on the use of assistants for translation purposes.

OHT has made a name for itself in assessing the level of translations by NMT engines.  Its ONEs Evaluation Score is a unique human-based assessment of the leading NMT engines conducted on a quarterly basis and used as an industry standard. 

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