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Samsung S8 pushes the edge again

The Galaxy S8 delivers on expectations with a stunning Infinity Display, connected ecosystem of services and an interface built on artificial intelligence.

Samsung Electronics yesterday unveiled the Galaxy S8, a smartphone that it says pushes the boundaries of traditional smartphones with its seamless hardware design and a variety of new service offerings.

“The Samsung Galaxy S8 ushers in a new era of smartphone design and fantastic new services, opening up new ways to experience the world,” said DJ Koh, President of Mobile Communications Business, Samsung Electronics. “The Galaxy S8 is our testament to regaining your trust by redefining what’s possible in safety and marks a new milestone in Samsung’s smartphone legacy.”

In an acknowledgement of the reputational damage caused by the recall of the Galaxy Note 7 last year, Koh added: “We must be bold enough to stare into the unknown and humble enough to learn from our mistakes.”

The Galaxy S8 largely delivered on expectations, and was met by widespread enthusiasm. It builds on Samsung’s heritage of combining powerful aesthetic design with highly functional devices, but adds a few surprises. Available in 5.8-inch Galaxy S8 and 6.2-inch Galaxy S8+, the Infinity Display and bezel-less design form a smooth, continuous surface with no buttons or harsh angles. The result is a truly immersive viewing experience without distractions and makes multi-tasking more convenient. The Galaxy S8’s compact design enables comfortable one-handed operation and Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on both the front and back for durability and a high-quality finish.

Samsung provided the following information:

In addition to the new design innovations, Samsung continues to deliver cutting-edge technology including an advanced camera, enhanced performance and more to the devices that users love, including:

  • Premium Camera: The Galaxy S8 is equipped with an advanced 8MP F1.7 Smart autofocus front camera and 12MP F1.7 Dual Pixel rear camera for the best low-light, zoom and anti-blur photos with enhanced image processing.
  • Powerful Performance: Packing powerful performance and connectivity, the Galaxy S8 features the industry’s first 10nm processor, enabling heightened speed and efficiency. It is also gigabit LTE and gigabit Wi-Fi ready with support for up to 1 Gbps so users can quickly download files, regardless of the file size.
  • Robust Entertainment: As the world’s first mobile device certified by the UHD Alliance as MOBILE HDR PREMIUM, Galaxy S8 lets you see the same vibrant colors and contrasts that the filmmakers intended while watching your favorite shows. In addition, the Galaxy S8 offers next-level gaming experiences with vivid and superior graphic technology, as well as Game Pack, featuring top game titles, including select titles supported by the Vulkan API.
  • Global Standard in Mobile Security: The Galaxy S8 is built on Samsung Knox, a defense-grade security platform. In addition, the Galaxy S8 will offer a wide selection of biometric technologies including a fingerprint scanner, iris scanner and facial recognition so users can select a secure biometric authentication method that works best for them.

The Galaxy S8 will also come with the foundational Galaxy features that our customers have come to love, including:

  • IP68 water and dust resistance
  • MicroSD support up to 256GB
  • Always-on display
  • Fast and wireless charging capabilities

New Way to Interact with Your Phone

Bixby is an intelligent interface that will help users get more out of their phone. With the new Bixby button, you will be able to conveniently access Bixby and navigate through services and apps with simple voice, touch, vision and text commands. At launch, Bixby’s Voice function will integrate with several Samsung native apps and features including Camera, Contacts, Gallery, Messages and Settings, with the plan to expand its capabilities to include more Samsung and third-party apps in the near future. Contextual awareness capabilities enable Bixby to offer personalized help based on what it continues to learn about the user’s interests, situation and location.

Users can also shop, search for images and get details about nearby places with Bixby’s image recognition technology. As the Bixby ecosystem grows, it will connect across devices, apps and services as a ubiquitous interface, and open up new experiences and scenarios to simplify life.

Beyond the Phone Experiences

The Galaxy S8 offers a robust portfolio of products and services, elevating the Galaxy S8 experience for premiere mobile productivity and connectivity.

The Galaxy S8 unlocks the new Gear VR with Controller, powered by Oculus. Enabling convenient one-handed control and navigation, the controller provides better motion interaction when accessing interactive VR content. The Galaxy S8 will also connect to the new Gear 360 to create 4K 360-degree videos and photos.

Leveraging the processing power of the Galaxy S8 for enhanced productivity, Samsung DeX is a unique solution that transforms your smartphone into a desktop by providing a secure desktop-like experience. With Samsung DeX, users can easily display and edit data from their phone, making working from a smartphone faster and smarter.

In addition, as more IoT devices enter the market and the connected network becomes more complex, Samsung Connect simplifies smart device management. With Samsung Connect, users can easily activate IoT-enabled devices through a quick three-step configuration process and manage all connected devices through one integrated app.

The Galaxy S8 also comes with the enhanced Samsung Health service, expanding one of Samsung’s most widely used services with 60 million monthly active users and 11 million daily active users worldwide. Samsung Health includes personal coaching, social capabilities that redefine traditional health and fitness.

Users can leave their physical wallet behind with Samsung Pay, turning their Galaxy S8 into a digital wallet they can use almost anywhere they’d use a credit or debit card. With more than 870 worldwide banking partnerships, Samsung Pay has processed more than 240 million transactions to date.

New high-performance earphones tuned by AKG by Harman, offering uncompromised audio for unbeatable sound quality, will come as an in-box accessory. These earphones will have a comfortable hybrid canal fit for better noise cancellation and will be made from anti-tangle metal-fabric material.

The Galaxy S8 will be available starting on 5 May 2017 and will be offered in a rich color palette including Midnight Black, Orchid Gray and Maple Gold with more colours to be launched later in the year.

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What’s left after the machines take over?

KIERAN FROST, research manager for software in sub-Saharan Africa for International Data Corporation, discusses the AI’s impact on the workforce.

One of the questions that we at the International Data Corporation are asked is what impact technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) will have on jobs. Where are there likely to be job opportunities in the future? Which jobs (or job functions) are most ripe for automation? What sectors are likely to be impacted first? The problem with these questions is that they misunderstand the size of the barriers in the way of system-wide automation: the question isn’t only about what’s technically feasible. It’s just as much a question of what’s legally, ethically, financially and politically possible.

That said, there are some guidelines that can be put in place. An obvious career path exists in being on the ‘other side of the code’, as it were – being the one who writes the code, who trains the machine, who cleans the data. But no serious commentator can leave the discussion there – too many people are simply not able to or have the desire to code. Put another way: where do the legal, financial, ethical, political and technical constraints on AI leave the most opportunity?

Firstly, AI (driven by machine learning techniques) is getting better at accomplishing a whole range of things – from recognising (and even creating) images, to processing and communicating natural language, completing forms and automating processes, fighting parking tickets, being better than the best Dota 2 players in the world and aiding in diagnosing diseases. Machines are exceptionally good at completing tasks in a repeatable manner, given enough data and/or enough training. Adding more tasks to the process, or attempting system-wide automation, requires more data and more training. This creates two constraints on the ability of machines to perform work:

  1. machine learning requires large amounts of (quality) data and;
  2. training machines requires a lot of time and effort (and therefore cost).

Let’s look at each of these in turn – and we’ll discuss how other considerations come into play along the way.

Speaking in the broadest possible terms, machines require large amounts of data to be trained to a level to meet or exceed human performance in a given task. This data enables the bot to learn how best to perform that task. Essentially, the data pool determines the output.

However, there are certain job categories which require knowledge of, and then subversion of, the data set – jobs where producing the same ‘best’ outcome would not be optimal. Particularly, these are jobs that are typically referred to as creative pursuits – design, brand, look and feel. To use a simple example: if pre-Apple, we trained a machine to design a computer, we would not have arrived at the iMac, and the look and feel of iOS would not become the predominant mobile interface. 

This is not to say that machines cannot create things. We’ve recently seen several ML-trained machines on the internet that produce pictures of people (that don’t exist) – that is undoubtedly creation (of a particularly unnerving variety). The same is true of the AI that can produce music. But those models are trained to produce more of what we recognise as good. Because art is no science, a machine would likely have no better chance of producing a masterpiece than a human. And true innovation, in many instances, requires subverting the data set, not conforming to it.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, training AI requires time and money. Some actions are simply too expensive to automate. These tasks are either incredibly specialised, and therefore do not have enough data to support the development of a model, or very broad, which would require so much data that it will render the training of the machine economically unviable. There are also other challenges which may arise. At the IDC, we refer to the Scope of AI-Based Automation. In this scope:

  • A task is the smallest possible unit of work performed on behalf of an activity.
  • An activity is a collection of related tasks to be completed to achieve the objective.
  • A process is a series of related activities that produce a specific output.
  • A system (or an ecosystem) is a set of connected processes.

As we move up the stack from task to system, we find different obstacles. Let’s use the medical industry as an example to show how these constraints interact. Medical image interpretation bots, powered by neural networks, exhibit exceptionally high levels of accuracy in interpreting medical images. This is used to inform decisions which are ultimately made by a human – an outcome that is dictated by regulation. Here, even if we removed the regulation, those machines cannot automate the entire process of treating the patient. Activity reminders (such as when a patient should return for a check-up, or reminders to follow a drug schedule) can in part be automated, with ML applications checking patient past adherence patterns, but with ultimate decision-making by a doctor. Diagnosis and treatment are a process that is ultimately still the purview of humans. Doctors are expected to synthesize information from a variety of sources – from image interpretation machines to the patient’s adherence to the drug schedule – in order to deliver a diagnosis. This relationship is not only a result of a technicality – there are ethical, legal and trust reasons that dictate this outcome.

There is also an economic reason that dictates this outcome. The investment required to train a bot to synthesize all the required data for proper diagnosis and treatment is considerable. On the other end of the spectrum, when a patient’s circumstance requires a largely new, highly specialised or experimental surgery, a bot will unlikely have the data required to be sufficiently trained to perform the operation and even then, it would certainly require human oversight.

The economic point is a particularly important one. To automate the activity in a mine, for example, would require massive investment into what would conceivably be an army of robots. While this may be technically feasible, the costs of such automation likely outweigh the benefits, with replacement costs of robots running into the billions. As such, these jobs are unlikely to disappear in the medium term. 
Thus, based on technical feasibility alone our medium-term jobs market seems to hold opportunity in the following areas: the hyper-specialised (for whom not enough data exists to automate), the jack-of-all-trades (for whom the data set is too large to economically automate), the true creative (who exists to subvert the data set) and finally, those whose job it is to use the data. However, it is not only technical feasibility that we should consider. Too often, the rhetoric would have you believe that the only thing stopping large scale automation is the sophistication of the models we have at our disposal, when in fact financial, regulatory, ethical, legal and political barriers are of equal if not greater importance. Understanding the interplay of each of these for a role in a company is the only way to divine the future of that role.

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LG unveils NanoCell TV range

At the recent LG Electronics annual Innofest innovation celebration in Seoul, Korea, the company unveiled its new NanoCell range: 14 TVs featuring ThinQ AI technology. It also showcased a new range of OLED units.

The new TV models deliver upgraded AI picture and sound quality, underpinned by the company’s second-generation α (Alpha) 9 Gen 2 intelligent processor and deep learning algorithm. As a result, the TVs promise optimised picture and sound by analysing source content and recognising ambient conditions.

LG’s premium range for the MEA market is headlined by the flagship OLED TV line-up, which offers a variety of screen sizes: W9 (model 77/65W9), E9 (model 65E9), C9 (model 77/65/55C9) and B9 (model 65/55B9).

NanoCell is LG’s new premier LED brand, the name intended to highlight outstanding picture quality enabled by NanoCell technology. Ensuring a wider colour gamut and enhanced contrast, says LG, “NanoColor employs a Full Array Local Dimming (FALD) backlight unit. NanoAccuracy guarantees precise colours and contrast over a wide viewing angle while NanoBezel helps to create the ultimate immersive experiences via ultra-thin bezels and the sleek, minimalist design of the TV.”

The NanoCell series comprises fourteen AI-enabled models, available in sizes varying from 49 to 77 inches (model 65SM95, 7565/55SM90, 65/55/49SM86 and 65/55/49SM81).

The LG C9 OLED TV and the company’s 86-inch 4K NanoCell TV model (model 86SM90) were recently honoured with CES 2019 Innovation Awards. The 65-inch E9 and C9 OLED TVs also picked up accolades from Dealerscope, Reviewed.com, and Engadget.

The α9 Gen 2 intelligent processor used in LG’s W9, E9 and C9 series OLED TVs elevates picture and sound quality via a deep learning algorithm (which leverages an extensive database of visual information), recognising content source quality and optimising visual output.

The α9 Gen 2 intelligent processor is able to understand how the human eye perceives images in different lighting and finely adjusts the tone mapping curve in accordance with ambient conditions to achieve the optimal level of screen brightness. The processor uses the TV’s ambient light sensor to measure external light, automatically changing brightness to compensate as required. With its advanced AI, the α9 Gen 2 intelligent processor can refine High Dynamic Range (HDR) content through altering brightness levels. In brightly lit settings, it can transform dark, shadow-filled scenes into easily discernible images, without sacrificing depth or making colours seem unnatural or oversaturated. LG’s 2019 TVs also leverage Dolby’s latest innovation, which intelligently adjusts Dolby Vision content to ensure an outstanding HDR experience, even in brightly lit conditions.

LG’s audio algorithm can up-mix two-channel stereo to replicate 5.1 surround sound. The α9 Gen 2 intelligent processor fine-tunes output according to content type, making voices easier to hear in movies and TV shows, and delivering crisp, clear vocals in songs. LG TVs intelligently set levels based on their positioning within a room, while users can also adjust sound settings manually if they choose. LG’s flagship TVs offer the realistic sound of Dolby Atmos for an immersive entertainment experience.

LG’s 2019 premium TV range comes with a new conversational voice recognition feature that makes it easier to take control and ask a range of questions. The TVs can understand context, which allows for more complex requests, meaning users won’t have to make a series of repetitive commands to get the desired results. Conversational voice recognition will be available on LG TVs with ThinQ AI in over a hundred countries.

LG’s 2019 AI TVs support HDMI 2.1 specifications, allowing the new 4K OLED and NanoCell TV models to display 4K content at a remarkable 120 frames per second. Select 2019 models offer 4K high frame rate (4K HFR), automatic low latency mode (ALLM), variable refresh rate (VRR) and enhanced audio return channel (eARC).

To find out more about LG’s latest TVs and home entertainment systems, visit https://www.lg.com/ae.

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