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Sophia the robot makes her Johannesburg debut

The world’s most advanced human-like interactive robot has made her debut on South African shores.

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Sophia, a humanoid robot that has addressed the United Nations General Assembly, was the star at SAP NOW, a two-day interactive knowledge-sharing showcase of the latest breakout technologies hosted by SAP Africa.

Sophia is an innovation by Hanson Robotics, and the company’s most famous and advanced robot featuring remarkable expressiveness, aesthetics and interactivity. Since making her debut in March 2016, she has graced the cover of Elle Magazine, and has been a guest of multiple TV shows including CBS 60 Minutes, the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Good Morning Britain. A featurette of Sophia by CNBC garnered more than 6.5 million views on YouTube and elicited more than two billion engagements on social media.

“Sophia is a shining example of what is possible when innovation and ambition meets exponential technologies such as AI,” says Cathy Smith, Managing Director of SAP Africa. “As we look toward a new tool set of breakout technologies to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges and achieve the ambitions of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, innovations such as Sophia will be instrumental in inspiring a new wave of innovators, disruptors and digital champions.”

Sophia can animate more than 60 facial expressions including smiling, frowning, anger, disgust, confusion and happiness. Built-in cameras enable her to track people’s eyes and faces to maintain eye contact and build rapport with people, while advanced AI capabilities and voice recognition, along with scripts and chat bots enable her to hold natural conversation with her human counterparts.

Sophia joined Smith on stage for an interactive conversation on Thursday 30 August before the rest of the SAP NOW program kicked off. The event followed the theme of Tomorrow is Already Here and focused on innovation, with a view to showcasing how the best run businesses help the world run better through innovative use of technology.

With topics ranging from ‘Let’s map, build and inspire a future we all want to live in’ to ‘The Journey to the Intelligent Enterprise’, SAP NOW was designed to encourage a collective learning experience while unveiling top industry innovations and sharing the latest knowledge and industry know-how.

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Funko Fortnite hits SA

Funko has come on board to bring South African players the collectables of their favourite Fortnite avatars.

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Fortnite phenomenon in the world of gaming and the Battle Royale game mode has drawn over 125 million players worldwide in less than a year.

In the game, players can gather materials to create defensive fortifications around an objective or trap-filled tunnels to lure unsuspecting enemies to. 

In Battle Royale mode, players can quickly traverse the map; protect themselves from enemy fire, or just delay an advancing foe by means of building obstacles and structures from gathered materials. Players are encouraged to be very creative in designing their fortifications.  Although Fortnite is a shooter game, it highly promotes creativity and the most creative and clever methods tend to be that of the winner.  Any gamer in the country knows of, or has played Fortnite and Funko has come on board to bring South African players the collectables of their favourite Fortnite avatars.

The following Funko POP characters have been released to SA, just in time for Christmas:

Drift: Journey into the unknown, and find your way to victory.

Ragnarok:  The cold harbinger of fate.

Dark Vangaurd:  Exploring the outer limits.

Valor:  A beacon for hope.

Havoc:  Striking fear into the opposition.

Tricera-Ops:  Sink your teeth into victory.

Sparkle specialist:  It’s time to shine!

Zoey:  Candy-coated chaos.

Burnout:  All roads lead to victory.

Raven:  Brooding master of dark skies

If you want to have your character with you at all times, there are Funko Keychains that can accompany you anywhere, of all the same characters.

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Here is 2019’s tech

From AI to flexible displays, this is the tech that will shape 2019, writes CY KIM, MD of LG SA

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2018 was incredibly exciting for the technology sector which has seen myriad advancements. These include the fundamentals of artificial intelligence (AI) being established, robots helping around the house and consumer electronic innovations such as TVs that are so thin, they might be mistaken for windows, or paintings.

2019 promises to be another significant year as people’s attitudes are changing and technology becomes embedded in our lives. Smart electronics manufacturers will ensure their plans for the future match evolving consumer needs with suitable technology.

We take a look at the biggest innovations for 2019 from AI to lightning-fast internet speeds and flexible viewing surfaces, and we shed some light on how these evolving technologies will impact on how we live and work.

AI will come of age

AI has experienced a marked increase in investments and according to Forbes, 80% of enterprises are investing in AI while 30% are planning to expand their AI investments in the next three years. It’s estimated that during 2017, venture, corporate and seed investors put about $3.6-billion into AI and machine learning companies.

This investment trend has given rise to innovation in deep learning products that have the potential to change the world for the better.

Yes, AI has been around since the 1950s, but its consumer benefits weren’t visible until recently and 2019 will be the year when AI starts to really take off and become a necessity, not just in the home, but in every facet of our lives.

The potential of AI is endless as this technology goes into everything from small watches to cars and even gigantic, connected smart cities. AI is also starting to find its way into TVs, washing machines, refrigerators, speakers, mobile phones and even air cons as products adapt to human behaviour.

Lightning-fast internet speeds

Faster internet speeds enable quicker response times for business tools that we all rely on to get the job done. It will increase the efficiency of workers and will provide reliable communication tools for companies that rely on remote workers.

Given that the so-called gig economy has grown exponentially in recent years, the expectation is that the evolving workforce will contain a higher percentage of employees, or contractors who do not work in a central office.

5G has the potential to change the world the way the internet did a few decades ago. The fifth generation of wireless technology will take internet connectivity to a new level as the internet of things (IoT), will bring about the potential for everything to be connected to everything.

However, 5G is not just about faster internet speeds. It will create new possibilities in numerous sectors, including medicine, transportation and manufacturing.

A smarter world through IoT and AI isn’t possible without 5G’s speed and capacity as the system is able to carry large numbers of connections simultaneously, and is therefore crucial to the development of smart cities, autonomous cars and smart homes.

Life-enriching smart technology

Much like technological innovations, consumer habits and preferences are changing drastically when it comes to home appliances and particularly, home entertainment.

Most consumers believe that advancements in home entertainment tech is life-enriching and that their life is better with the latest tech at their fingertips as it allows them to stay indoors and enjoy quality time with friends and family.

The value of home entertainment tech lies in how it allows loved ones to share experiences, thereby bringing them closer together, particularly during big events such as major sporting events and holiday celebrations.

The potential of flexible viewing surfaces will not only change home entertainment, but also marketing techniques in shopping malls, city centres and shop fronts. With the ability to curve around any environment, this technology creates the perfect platform for signage and consumer engagement that stands out from the crowd.

LG Electronics is an established market leader in innovation and has already started to incorporate these futuristic technologies into its products, which are designed to make consumers lives more convenient. We will continue to release amazing products that utilise smart tech to connect with consumers while staying ahead of the evolutionary curve.

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