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Qualcomm fund to back AI

Qualcomm has launched the Qualcomm Ventures AI Fund to invest up to an aggregate of $100 million in startups transforming artificial intelligence.

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The fund will focus on startups that share the vision of on-device AI becoming more powerful and widespread, with an emphasis on those developing new technology for autonomous cars, robotics and machine learning platforms. This fund builds on more than a decade of Qualcomm’s AI research and its heritage of developing the foundational building blocks of low power processing and connectivity, which are essential for AI.

Qualcomm has set out to make on-device AI technology ubiquitous by inventing, developing, commercializing and, importantly, investing in it. As AI shifts towards the wireless edge – combining essential on-device capabilities with the edge cloud – the industry is already starting to see the full potential of 5G. Qualcomm’s ambitious 5G vision and strategic commitment to on-device AI goes hand in hand with mobile becoming the pervasive AI platform.

“At Qualcomm, we invent breakthrough technologies that transform how the world connects, computes, and communicates,” said Steve Mollenkopf, CEO of Qualcomm Incorporated. “For over a decade, Qualcomm has been investing in the future of machine learning. As a pioneer of on-device AI, we strongly believe intelligence is moving from the cloud to the edge. Qualcomm’s AI strategy couples leading 5G connectivity with our R&D, fueling AI to transform industries, business models and experiences.”

As part of the AI Fund, Qualcomm Ventures LLC participated in a Series A funding round for AnyVision, a world-leading face, body, and object recognition startup. AnyVision’s use of on-device AI minimizes the spread of data, mitigating privacy concerns. Its unique data acquisition strategy, together with its proprietary algorithms, are expected to provide immense value to customers. This investment – the first made by the AI fund – will further AnyVision’s efforts to expand into other industries and develop new AI applications that transform how the world connects, computes and communicates. The announcement was made at Qualcomm Ventures’ 5G & AI Summit in San Francisco, where influential leaders in AI convened to discuss applications of the technology in different industry verticals.

“Qualcomm Ventures is proud to invest in the future of AnyVision and many other key players in the AI industry,” said Quinn Li, senior vice president, Ventures, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and global head of Qualcomm Ventures. “This investment builds on our long history of successful AI investments, including Cruise Automation, Brain Corp., Clarifai, Prospera, SenseTime and Retail Next. Through the AI Fund, we’ll continue to seek out startups, with a focus on autonomous cars, robotics, computer vision and IoT, who are developing new AI applications, advanced machine learning technologies and AI/ML platforms across different verticals.”

The Qualcomm Ventures team has a demonstrated track record of investing in some of the top global AI startups. The AI Fund will continue to invest in those that share Qualcomm’s vision of making on-device AI ubiquitous. Qualcomm’s cutting-edge research, strong mobile footprint and leading development of 5G and AI will allow Qualcomm Ventures to serve as an ideal investor in AI startups bringing the next wave of innovation. Their success will provide significant value to many industries and billions of people.

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Notre Dame, Scoop Makhathini, GoT, top week in search

From fire disaster to social media disaster, the top Google searches this week covered a wide gamut of themes.

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Paris and the whole world looked on in shock as the 856-year-old medieval Catholic cathedral crumbled into ash. The tragic infernal destruction of this tourist attraction of historical and religious significance led South Africans to generate more than 200 000 search queries for “Notre Dame Cathedral” on Monday. Authorities are investigating the cause of the fire that razed the architectural icon.

In other top trending searches on Google this week, radio presenter Siyabonga Ngwekazi, AKA Scoop Makhathini, went viral when it appeared he had taken to Twitter to expose his girlfriend, Akhona Carpede, for cheating on him. Scoop has since come out to say that he was not responsible for the bitter rant and that his account was hacked. “Scoop Makhathini” generated more than 20 000 search queries on Wednesday.

Fans generated more than 20 000 search queries for “Sam Smith” on Tuesday ahead of the the British superstar’s Cape Town performance at the Grand West Casino. Smith ended up cutting his performance short that night due to vocal strain.

Local Game of Thrones superfans were beside themselves on Sunday, searching the internet high and low for the first episode of the American fantasy drama’s eighth season. “Game of Thrones, season 8, episode 1” generated more than 100 000 queries on Google Search on the weekend.

As the festivities kicked off in California with headliners such as Childish Gambino and Ariana Grande, South Africans generated more than 2 000 search queries for “Coachella” on Saturday.

South Africans generated more than 5 000 search queries for “Wendy Williams” on Friday  as it emerged that the American talk show host had filed for divorce from her husband Kevin Hunter after 21 years of marriage. Hunter has long been rumored to have been cheating on Williams, which reportedly finally led to the divorce.

Search trends information is gleaned from data collated by Google based on what South Africans have been searching for and asking Google. Google processes more than 40 000 search queries every second. This translates to more than a billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. Live Google search trends data is available at https://www.google.co.za/trends/hottrends#pn=p40

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5G smartphones to hit 5M sales in 2019

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According to the latest research from Strategy Analytics, global smartphone shipments will reach a modest 5 million units in 2019. Early 5G smartphone models will be expensive and available in limited volumes. Samsung, LG and Huawei will be the early 5G smartphone leaders this year, followed by Apple next year.

Ken Hyers, Director at Strategy Analytics, said, “We forecast global 5G smartphone shipments will reach a modest 5 million units in 2019. Less than 1 percent of all smartphones shipped worldwide will be 5G-enabled this year. Global 5G smartphone shipments are tiny for now, due to expensive device pricing, component bottlenecks, and restricted availability of active 5G networks.”

Ville Petteri-Ukonaho, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics, added, “Samsung will be the early 5G smartphone leader in the first half of 2019, due to initial launches across South Korea and the United States. We predict LG, Huawei, Xiaomi, Motorola and others will follow later in the year, followed by Apple iPhone with its first 5G model during the second half of 2020. The iPhone looks set to be at least a year behind Samsung in the 5G smartphone race and Apple must be careful not to fall too far behind.”

Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, added, “The short-term outlook for 5G smartphones is weak, but the long-term opportunity remains huge. We forecast 1 billion 5G smartphones to ship worldwide per year by 2025. The introduction of 5G networks, by carriers like Verizon or China Mobile, opens up high-speed, ultra-low-latency services such as 8K video, streaming games, and augmented reality for business. The next big question for the mobile industry is how much extra consumers are really willing to pay, if anything, for those emerging 5G smartphones and services.”

Strategy Analytics provides a snapshot analyses for the outlook for 5G smartphone market in this Insight report: 5G Smartphones : From Zero to a Billion

Strategy Analytics provides a deep-dive into the air-interface technologies that will power phones through 2024 across 88 countries here: Global Handset Sales Forecast by 88 Countries and 19 Technologies : 2003 to 2024

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