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SA 4th most spammed

Nuisance and unsolicited calls are on the rise around the globe, according to the Truecaller Insights report, a look into the top 20 countries affected by spam calls in 2018, released this week

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The report reveals that, within large markets like Brazil, and India, the average Truecaller user receives more than 22 spam calls each month.

South Africans are not far behind and are some of the most spammed in the world. The insights study has revealed that the 5.3 million Truecaller app users receive an average of 21 spam calls monthly. This makes South Africa the fourth most-spammed country, a staggering 71.4% increase in spam compared to last year.

In comparison to last year’s data, fewer African markets are now sitting in the Top 20 list. South Africa is the only country that has topped the list again, with an increase in overall spam related calls.

Digging deeper into the bigger markets, Truecaller found common categories that tie all these spam calls together. The most prominent pattern seen was that operators across the world are the biggest spammers. Telemarketing calls from financial services, debt collectors and insurance related matters are also spamming users globally.

Truecaller provided the following insights into spam calls in South Africa:

Truecaller has identified and blocked 297 million spam calls in South Africa to date and has identified 12.4% of all calls received in the market as spam.

Last years study revealed that a only 1% of calls were marked as scam-related, this year almost half (49%) of all top spam calls were scam related. Scams include tech support fraud, where someone pretends to call from your bank or company informing you that your account has been hijacked and needs your help to take control of it; the one ring scam, an unknown number (usually an international number) gives you a missed call and when you call them back you get charged a hefty fee for calling back; the job offer scam, someone pretending to be a headhunter calling you to offer you a job but you need to pay a fee in order to be hired. Telemarketing is still a persistent problem in South Africa, that accounts to 38% of all top spam calls in the country.

In 2018 alone, Truecaller has helped users block and identify 17.7 billion spam calls including the identity of 74.1 billion calls. This means that close to every fourth call that the app users receive are spam calls.

 

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CES: Most useless gadgets

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: Language 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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