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Selfie opens way to new apps

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Smartphone cameras could be poised to transform a number of industries, as ‘selfies’ transition from a frivolous fad to a technological phenomenon, according to a new report from Sony Mobile.|Smartphone cameras could be poised to transform a number of industries, as ‘selfies’ transition from a frivolous fad to a technological phenomenon, according to a new report from Sony Mobile.

Smartphone cameras could be poised to transform a number of industries, as ‘selfies’ transition from frivolous fad to technological phenomenon, according to a new report from Sony Mobile. The report and accompanying research, released in conjunction with Futurizon and based on a survey of 6,500 European consumers in the UK, France, Germany and Spain, found that consumers are open to the ‘vast number of potential applications’ for camera photography.

Working with futurologist Dr Ian Pearson, Sony Mobile explored a number of sectors likely to incorporate smartphone photography and selfies as a technological function in the future. The potential applications were wide-ranging, from theme parks building ‘selfie-coasters’ that let adrenaline-junkies capture their experience on the latest rides, to shoppers using it as a ‘virtual personal assistant’ to try on multiple outfits at the touch of a button. Once these applications were identified, more than 6,500 consumers provided their thoughts on the evolution of selfies as a social trend, and the appetite for these more functional uses of smartphone photography.

“The project has given us a real sense of how selfies and video calls have evolved, and why they could be set to transform so many different sectors”, said Jason Smith at Sony Mobile.

“At Sony Mobile we face the dual task of designing smartphones that make consumers’ lives easier today, while keeping an eye on what the future holds and being part of driving innovation and change. We have always seen photography as being a key function at the heart of the smartphone and have already advanced front camera technology in our Xperia™ XZ for superior quality photos, so it’s incredibly exciting to find that consumers are ready to embrace selfies for such a wide range of future uses that enhance our everyday lives.”

The report identified the top 10 ways consumers believe selfies could evolve in the next five years:

1.     Dating: Taking a selfie with your date to find out what they really think

2.     Medical: Over a quarter of people would prefer to see their GP via a selfie or video call, in the first instance

3.     Banking for the selfie generation: Nearly half of 25-34 year olds would feel more secure if accessing their bank through a ‘selfie password’

4.     In leisure: Around half of thrill-seekers would like to try a ‘selfiecoaster’ – a rollercoaster that puts you in control of capturing your experience on the ride

5.     In a gym / fitness: selfies that work with AI (Artificial Intelligence) to capture body monitoring e.g. testing heart rates and even suggesting how to improve on technique and how accurately a move is being performed

6.     Made to measure clothes: taking a 3D body image for made-to-measure clothes

7.     In retail: using your smartphone camera to try on different outfits suited to your body shape, at the touch of a button

8.     Social currency: paying for entry to the cinema or a tourist attraction through a selfie

9.     Robots: Using your smartphone to control drones or robots to take selfies from other or extreme locations

10.   Home: Using selfies to secure and access our homes and cars

Dr Ian Pearson, Futurologist and creator of the Future of Selfies report, added: “Through this report, it has been fascinating to chart the evolution of selfies and smartphone photography with the team at Sony Mobile. But even more encouraging has been the response from consumers, who have shown they are open to the range of future uses for selfies and video calls.”

“The results clearly show that selfies are well on their way to transitioning from frivolous fad to technological phenomenon, and provide food for thought to a number of industries. The potential is huge, and it will be exciting to watch this unfold over the coming years.”

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CES: Most useless gadgets of all

Choosing the best of show is a popular pastime, but the worst gadgets of CES also deserve their moment of infamy, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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It’s fairly easy to choose the best new gadgets launched at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week. Most lists – and there are many – highlight the LG roll-up TV, the Samsung modular TV, the Royole foldable phone, the impossible burger, and the walking car.

But what about the voice assisted bed, the smart baby dining table, the self-driving suitcase and the robot that does nothing? In their current renditions, they sum up what is not only bad about technology, but how technology for its own sake quickly leads us down the rabbit hole of waste and futility.

The following pick of the worst of CES may well be a thinly veneered attempt at mockery, but it is also intended as a caution against getting caught up in hype and justification of pointless technology.

1. DUX voice-assisted bed

The single most useless product launched at CES this year must surely be a bed with Alexa voice control built in. No, not to control the bed itself, but to manage the smart home features with which Alexa and other smart speakers are associated. Or that any smartphone with Siri or Google Assistant could handle. Swedish luxury bedmaker DUX thinks it’s a good idea to manage smart lights, TV, security and air conditioning through the bed itself. Just don’t say Alexa’s “wake word” in your sleep.

2. Smart Baby Dining Table 

Ironically, the runner-up comes from a brand that also makes smart beds: China’s 37 Degree Smart Home. Self-described as “the world’s first smart furniture brand that is transforming technology into furniture”, it outdid itself with a Smart Baby Dining Table. This isa baby feeding table with a removable dining chair that contains a weight detector and adjustable camera, to make children’s weight and temperature visible to parents via the brand’s app. Score one for hands-off parenting.

Click here to read about smart diapers, self-driving suitcases, laundry folders, and bad robot companions.

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CES: Tech means no more “lost in translation”

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Talking to strangers in foreign countries just got a lot easier with recent advancements in translation technology. Last week, major companies and small startups alike showed the CES technology expo in Las Vegas how well their translation worked at live translation.

Most existing translation apps, like Bixby and Siri Translate, are still in their infancy with live speech translation, which brings about the need for dedicated solutions like these technologies:

Babel’s AIcorrect pocket translator

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The AIcorrect Translator, developed by Beijing-based Babel Technology, attracted attention as the linguistic king of the show. As an advanced application of AI technology in consumer technology, the pocket translator deals with problems in cross-linguistic communication. 

It supports real-time mutual translation in multiple situations between Chinese/English and 30 other languages, including Japanese, Korean, Thai, French, Russian and Spanish. A significant differentiator is that major languages like English being further divided into accents. The translation quality reaches as high as 96%.

It has a touch screen, where transcription and audio translation are shown at the same time. Lei Guan, CEO of Babel Technology, said: “As a Chinese pathfinder in the field of AI, we designed the device in hoping that hundreds of millions of people can have access to it and carry out cross-linguistic communication all barrier-free.” 

Click here to read about the Pilot, Travis, Pocketalk, Google and Zoi translators.

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