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Category: Automated cars

Thoughts from MWC Shanghai 2018

Ni hao from Shanghai! It is amazing the change that happens in a year. This year’s MWC Shanghai, like last year’s, took up about half of the Shanghai New International Expo Centre (SNIEC). “5G +” is the major theme and, unlike last year, 5G is not something in the distant future. It is now assumed to be in progress.

The biggest of the pluses was AI, with a number of booths explicitly sporting 5G + AI signage. There were also 5G plus robots, cars, and cloud services. Many of those are really about AI as well. The show makes it feel like 5G is everywhere and will make everything better (or at least a lot faster). And Asia is leading the way.

[caption id="attachment_3447" align="alignleft" width="640"]5G + robotics at MWCS 18. 5G + robotics at MWCS 18.[/caption]

Most of the booths touted their 5G support as they did last year, but rather than talking about the future, they tried to say that their 5G was now. They claimed their products were in real-world tests with anticipated deployment schedules. One of the keynote speakers talked about 1.2 billion 5G connections by 2025, with more than half of those in Asia. The purported scale and speed of the transition to 5G is staggering.

[caption id="attachment_3449" align="alignleft" width="640"]The keynote stage, displaying some big numbers. The keynote stage, displaying some big numbers.[/caption]

The last two halls I visited showed that world is not all 5G and AI. These halls looked at current fun applications of mobile technologies and companies developing technologies in the near future. MWC allowed children into one of the halls, where they (and we adults) could fly drones and experience VR technology. I watched in some amusement as people crashed drones, rode bikes with VR gear to simulate horses, were 3D scanned, and generally tried out new tech that didn’t always work.

The second hall included small booths from new companies working on future technologies that might be ready “4 years from now” (4YFN). These companies did not have much to show yet, but each booth displayed the company name and a short phrase summing up their future tech. That led to “Deepscent Labs is a smart scent data company,” ChineSpain is a “Marketplace of experiences for Chinese tourists in Spain,” and “Juice is a tech-based music contents startup that creates an ecosystem of music.” The mind boggles!

The XPRTs’ foray into AI with AIXPRT seems well timed based on this show. Other areas from this show that may be worth considering for the XPRTs are 5G and the cloud. We would love to hear your thoughts on those areas. We know they are important, but do you need the XPRTs and their emphasis on real-world benchmarks and workloads in those areas? Drop us a line and let us know!

Bill

MWC18 and technology on the brink

This year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona bristled with technologies on the brink of superstardom.  The long-awaited 5G high-speed mobile standard again dominated the conversations, and is one year closer to creating a world of high-speed connections that will make possible mobile usages we’ve only begun to discover.  Intelligent, connected cars promise a self-driving and highly interconnected automotive experience that should ultimately make driving better for all of us.  Artificial intelligence, already a star, showed glimmers of its vast and still barely tapped potential.  In keeping with the show’s name, mobile devices of all sorts proved that phones and tablets and laptops are nowhere near done, with new models and capabilities available all over the many halls that comprised the MWC campus.

Each of those technologies will continue to evolve rapidly over the coming years, and each will create new opportunities for us all to benefit.  Those opportunities will appear both in ways we understand now—faster connections and quicker devices, for example—and in fashions we don’t yet understand.  The new benefits will lead to new usage models, change the ways we interact with the world, and create whole new markets.  (When the first smartphones appeared, they changed photography forever, but that wasn’t their primary goal.)  These new technologies will help us in ways we can now only glimpse.

These changes and new capabilities will breed both competition and, inevitably, confusion.  How are we to know which of the new products deliver the best implementations of these technologies heading toward stardom, and how are we to know when to upgrade to new generations of these products?

Answering those questions, and clarifying some of the confusing aspects of the always shifting tech market, are the reasons the XPRT community and tools exist.  New tech creates new usage models that require new tools to assess–XPRT tools.

If there’s one last lesson I learned from MWC18, it’s that our work is only just beginning.  The new technologies that are on the brink today will become superstars soon, and we’ll be there with the tools you need to assess and compare them.

Mark

Thinking ahead at CES 2018

It may sound trite to say that a show like CES is all about the future, but this year’s show is prompting me to think about how our lives will evolve in the coming years. Some technological breakthroughs change the way we do everyday things like play music or hail a cab—while some transform the way we do everything. For technological innovation to truly shift society on a wide scale, it has to coincide with markets of scale in a way that makes life-changing tech accessible to almost everyone (think: smartphones in 2005 versus smartphones in 2018).

These technical and economic forces are coinciding once again in the areas of AI, automation, the Internet of Things (IoT), and consumer robotics. While many of our daily activities will stay the same, the ways we organize and engage with those activities are changing dramatically.

I’ll leave you with a few general observations from the show:

  • Huawei has a huge presence here. A new tagline for them that I haven’t seen before is a play on their name, “Wow Way.” I suspect we may have a Mate 10 Pro XPRT Spotlight entry in the near future.
  • The Kino-mo Hypervsn 3D Holograph display blew me away. People were crowding in to see it and couldn’t stop staring. It’s straight out of sci-fi, and its appearance is similar to Princess Leia’s hologram message in Star Wars. (By the way, it looks way better in real life than in the video.)
  • Sony is making a big push into smart homes by building systems that work cross-platform with a range of smart speakers and assistants. Between their smart home push and some of the cool home theater tech they had on display, I can see them gaining some brand power.
  • To me, the most exciting concepts at the show involved smart infrastructure, which promises enormous potential to boost the efficient distribution of water, energy, and transportation resources.
  • Surprisingly, I saw automation, smart city, and smart infrastructure displays from companies that I don’t always associate with IoT or AI, like Bosch and Panasonic. Panasonic was marketing an array of semi-autonomous vehicle cockpit prototypes, and had a section highlighting their partnership with Tesla.
  • By far, the strangest thing I’ve seen at CES has been the Psychasec booth, staffed by eerie attendants in pure white outfits who talked confidently about “downloading your cortical stack into customized bodies made from organic materials.” The Psychasec staff absolutely refused to break character, which made the whole scene even stranger. Check out the link above for the story behind Psychasec.



And, while I’m probably not supposed to admit this, my favorite part of the show so far has been the line of expensive massage chair vendors doling out free sessions…

More to follow soon,

Justin

Learning about machine learning

Everywhere we look, machine learning is in the news. It’s driving cars and beating the world’s best Go players. Whether we are aware of it or not, it’s in our lives–understanding our voices and identifying our pictures.

Our goal of being able to measure the performance of hardware and software that does machine learning seems more relevant than ever. Our challenge is to scan the vast landscape that is machine learning, and identify which elements to measure first.

There is a natural temptation to see machine learning as being all about neural networks such as AlexNet and GoogLeNet. However, new innovations appear all the time and lots of important work with more classic machine learning techniques is also underway. (Classic machine learning being anything more than a few years old!) Recursive neural networks used for language translation, reinforcement learning used in robotics, and support vector machine (SVM) learning used in text recognition are just a few examples among the wide array of algorithms to consider.

Creating a benchmark or set of benchmarks to cover all those areas, however, is unlikely to be possible. Certainly, creating such an ambitious tool would take so long that it would be of limited usefulness.

Our current thinking is to begin with a small set of representative algorithms. The challenge, of course, is identifying them. That’s where you come in. What would you like to start with?

We anticipate that the benchmark will focus on the types of inference learning and light training that are likely to occur on edge devices. Extensive training with large datasets takes place in data centers or on systems with extraordinary computing capabilities. We’re interested in use cases that will stress the local processing power of everyday devices.

We are, of course, reaching out to folks in the machine learning field—including those in academia, those who create the underlying hardware and software, and those who make the products that rely on that hardware and software.

What do you think?

Bill

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