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Tech changes the user interface of the world

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Often it feels that the pinnacle of design has been reached, but technology is ever changing and improving. The current pinnacle of innovation comes in the form of the Galaxy Note8, says CRAIGE FLEISCHER, Samsung’s Director of Integrated Mobility.

Some argue that the wheel is mankind’s greatest innovation as it led to mechanisation and industrialisation. But it is the evolution of language and the written word which enabled these advancements in the first place. Skip forward a few hundred years and we find ourselves in the digital era where all our thinking and writing is contained in a series of ones and zeros, every comma and full-stop a perfectly engineered code. This evolution aside, we have never lost the dexterity of holding a pen and etching an idea into existence, or navigating a paint brush on a canvas.

While electronics giants are creating more advanced technologies that aim to simplify our lives, many are overlooking simple ergonomics. Technology is there to complement life, not complicate it. The evolution of the mobile phone makes this ever so clear.

In 1973, all a mobile phone had to do was act like a house phone and connect two users over a distance. In the 2000s we expected phones to remember names, take pictures and play music. It’s 2017 and our appetites have grown exponentially. We demand so much more from our devices, we want bigger screens, improved screen quality, larger storage, faster processors, extended battery time and a longer shelf life. Smartphones heeded this call, but still we ask for more.

The demands include a desktop in my pocket, being able to access spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations on demand, exceptional picture quality, a personal assistant to be available around the clock, and a platform that can support my creative side. This list of demands requires an integrated solution.

Rising to the challenge, Samsung gave us the Galaxy Note 8. A phablet by definition, due to its size; it is a technological work of art based on its performance capabilities. It boasts a dual camera that is considered the best in the industry. It can capture clear pictures, even in low light, placing it at the cutting edge of capturing stills and videos.

The Galaxy Note 8 has a 6.3-inch Quad HD+ Super AMOLED screen, the biggest on any phablet in the market, complementing those high definition pictures and videos superbly. With an aspect ratio of 18.5:9 and an infinity display, the screen allows us to do great things and the tiniest details are brought to life with the most vivid clarity. The phone’s S Pen stylus brings the immense screen to life-this pen being a distinctive feature of the Note series since its inception in 2011. The S Pen allows us to live message, create our own emojis, edit pictures and documents with a hand-written element, and create our own GIFs. For the artistically inclined, the intelligent S Pen is pressure sensitive, allowing the artist to sketch various hues as if using different pencil types on a sketch pad. But one of the most practical features of the S Pen, is being able to speedily jot down notes without unlocking the phone’s screen.

The Galaxy Note 8 embodies everything modern, it speaks to opulence and productivity. Its 10nm mobile processor and 6 GB RAM makes gaming, watching movies or switching between monitoring the stock market, emails, GPS and other operational apps, a breeze. It is the perfect gadget for those who want more out of their mobile devices, and those who want to do more.

Helping people cope in a digital, fast-paced environment, Samsung makes life easier with Bixby. The artificial intelligence platform is so advanced, that it adapts, learns and grows with us. At the click of a button, we can summon our own personal assistant to help organise meetings, remind us of lunch with our mother or download that live show we had queued, either on our mobile or television.

The rise of the Internet of Things means everyday products such as watches and houses are becoming smart and syncing across devices. Samsung Dex allows us to connect our phone to the television, making file sharing as simple as clicking a button.

The inspiration behind this innovation is to do bigger things for longer, having a positive impact on the world and about a vision for the future. Discover new possibilities and inspire the world to create the future using creativity, innovation and technology.

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Smart home arrives in SA

The smart home is no longer a distant vision confined to advanced economies, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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The smart home is a wonderful vision for controlling every aspect of one’s living environment via remote control, apps and sensors. But, because it is both complex and expensive, there has been little appetite for it in South Africa.

The two main routes for smart home installation are both fraught with peril – financial and technical.

The first is to call on a specialist installation company. Surprisingly, there are many in South Africa. Google “smart home” +”South Africa”, and thousands of results appear. The problem is that, because the industry is so new, few have built up solid track records and reputations. Costs vary wildly, few standards exist, and the cost of after-sales service will turn out to be more important than the upfront price.

The second route is to assemble the components of a smart home, and attempt self-installation. For the non-technical, this is often a non-starter. Not only does one need a fairly good knowledge of Wi-Fi configuration, but also a broad understanding of the Internet of Things (IoT) – the ability for devices to sense their environment, connect to each other, and share information.

The good news, though, is that it is getting easier and more cost effective all the time.

My first efforts in this direction started a few years ago with finding smart plugs on Amazon.com. These are power adaptors that turn regular sockets into “smart sockets” by adding Wi-Fi and an on-off switch, among other. A smart lightbulb was sourced from Gearbest in China. At the time, these were the cheapest and most basic elements for a starter smart home environment.

Via a smartphone app, the light could be switched on from the other side of the world. It sounds trivial and silly, but on such basic functions the future is slowly built.

Fast forward a year or two, and these components are available from hundreds of outlets, they have plummeted in cost, and the range of options is bewildering. That, of course, makes the quest even more bewildering. Who can be trusted for quality, fulfilment and after-sales support? Which products will be obsolete in the next year or two as technology advances even more rapidly?

These are some of the challenges that a leading South African technology distributor, Syntech, decided to address in adding smart home products to its portfolio. It selected LifeSmart, a global brand with proven expertise in both IoT and smart home products.

Equally significantly, LifeSmart combines IoT with artificial intelligence and machine learning, meaning that the devices “learn” the best ways of connecting, sharing and integrating new elements. Because they all fall under the same brand, they are designed to integrate with the LifeSmart app, which is available for Android and iOS phones, as well as Android TV.

Click here to read about how LifeSmart makes installing smart home devices easier.

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Matrics must prepare for AI

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students writing a test

By Vian Chinner, CEO and founder of Xineoh.

Many in the matric class of 2018 are currently weighing up their options for the future. With the country’s high unemployment rate casting a shadow on their opportunities, these future jobseekers have been encouraged to look into which skills are required by the market, tailoring their occupational training to align with demand and thereby improving their chances of finding a job, writes Vian Chinner – a South African innovator, data scientist and CEO of the machine learning company specialising in consumer behaviour prediction, Xineoh.

With rapid innovation and development in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), all careers – including high-demand professions like engineers, teachers and electricians – will look significantly different in the years to come.

Notably, the third wave of internet connectivity, whereby our physical world begins to merge with that of the internet, is upon us. This is evident in how widespread AI is being implemented across industries as well as in our homes with the use of automation solutions and bots like Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana. So much data is collected from the physical world every day and AI makes sense of it all.

Not only do new industries related to technology like AI open new career paths, such as those specialising in data science, but it will also modify those which already exist. 

So, what should matriculants be considering when deciding what route to take?

For highly academic individuals, who are exceptionally strong in mathematics, data science is definitely the way to go. There is, and will continue to be, massive demand internationally as well as locally, with Element-AI noting that there are only between 0 and 100 data scientists in South Africa, with the true number being closer to 0.

In terms of getting a foot in the door to become a successful data scientist, practical experience, working with an AI-focused business, is essential. Students should consider getting an internship while they are studying or going straight into an internship, learning on the job and taking specialist online courses from institutions like Stanford University and MIT as they go.

This career path is, however, limited to the highly academic and mathematically gifted, but the technology is inevitably going to overlap with all other professions and so, those who are looking to begin their careers should take note of which skills will be in demand in future, versus which will be made redundant by AI.

In the next few years, technicians who are able to install and maintain new technology will be highly sought after. On the other hand, many entry level jobs will likely be taken care of by AI – from the slicing and dicing currently done by assistant chefs, to the laying of bricks by labourers in the building sector.

As a rule, students should be looking at the skills required for the job one step up from an entry level position and working towards developing these. Those training to be journalists, for instance, should work towards the skill level of an editor and a bookkeeping trainee, the role of financial consultant.

This also means that new workforce entrants should be prepared to walk into a more demanding role, with more responsibility, than perhaps previously anticipated and that the country’s education and training system should adapt to the shift in required skills.

The matric classes of 2018 have completed their schooling in the information age and we should be equipping them, and future generations, for the future market – AI is central to this.

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