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Category: IoT

Coming soon: An interactive AIXPRT selector tool

AI workloads are now relevant to all types of hardware, from servers to laptops to IOT devices, so we intentionally designed AIXPRT to support a wide range of potential hardware, toolkit, and workload configurations. This approach provides AIXPRT testers with a tool that is flexible enough to adapt to a variety of environments. The downside is that the number of options makes it fairly complicated to figure out which AIXPRT download package suits your needs.

To help testers navigate this complexity, we’ve been working on a new interactive selector tool. The tool is not yet live, but the screenshots and descriptions below provide a preview of what’s to come.

The tool will include drop-down menus for the key factors that go into determining the correct AIXPRT download package, along with a description of the options. Users can proceed in any order but will need to make a selection for each category. Since not all combinations work together, each selection the user makes will eliminate some of the options in the remaining categories.

AIXPRT user guide snip 1

After a user selects an option, a check mark appears on the category icon, and the selection for that category appears in the category box (e.g., TensorFlow in the Toolkit category). This shows users which categories they’ve completed and the selections they’ve made. After a user selects options in more than one category, a Start over button appears in the lower-left corner. Clicking this button clears all existing selections and provides users with a clean slate.

Once every category is complete, a Download button appears in the lower-right corner. When you click this, a popup appears that provides a link for the correct download package and associated readme file.

AIXPRT user guide snip 2

We hope the selector tool will help make the AIXPRT download and installation process easier for those who are unfamiliar with the benchmark. Testers who already know exactly which package they need will be able to bypass the tool and go directly to a download table.

The tool will debut with the AIXPRT 1.0 GA in the next few days, and we’ll let everyone know when that happens! If you have any questions or comments about AIXPRT, please let us know.

Justin

More, faster, better: The future according to Mobile World Congress 2019

More is more data, which the trillions of devices in the coming Internet of Things will be pumping through our air into our (computing) clouds in hitherto unseen quantities.

Faster is the speed at which tomorrow’s 5G networks will carry this data—and the responses and actions from our automated assistants (and possibly overlords).

Better is the quality of the data analysis and recommendations, thanks primarily to the vast army of AI-powered analytics engines that will be poring over everything digital the planet has to say.

Swimming through this perpetual data tsunami will be we humans and our many devices, our laptops and tablets and smartphones and smart watches and, ultimately, implants. If we are to believe the promise of this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona—and of course I do want to believe it, who wouldn’t?—the result of all of this will be a better world for all humanity, no person left behind. As I walked the show floor, I could not help but feel and want to embrace its optimism.

The catch, of course, is that we have a tremendous amount of work to do between where we are today and this fabulous future.

We must, for example, make sure that every computing node that will contribute to these powerful AI programs is up to the task. From the smartphone to the datacenter, AI will end up being a very distributed and very demanding workload. That’s one of the reasons we’ve been developing AIXPRT. Without tools that let us accurately compare different devices, the industry won’t be able to keep delivering the levels of performance improvements that we need to realize these dreams.

We must also think a lot about how to accurately measure all other aspects of our devices’ performance, because the demands this future will place on them are going to be significant. Fortunately, the always evolving XPRT family of tools is up to the task.

The coming 5G revolution, like all tech leaps forward before it, will not come evenly. Different 5G devices will end up behaving differently, some better and some worse. That fact, plus our constant and growing reliance on bandwidth, suggests that maybe the XPRT community should turn its attention to the task of measuring bandwidth. What do you think?

One thing is certain: we at the Benchmark XPRT Development Community have a role to play in building the tools necessary to test the tech the world will need to deliver on the promise of this exciting trade show. We look forward to that work.

AI is the heartbeat of CES 2019

This year’s CES features a familiar cast of characters: gigantic, super-thin 8K screens; plenty of signage promising the arrival of 5G; robots of all shapes, sizes, and levels of competency; and acres of personal grooming products that you can pair with your phone. In all seriousness, however, one main question keeps coming to mind as I walk the floor: Are we approaching the tipping point where AI truly starts to affect most people in meaningful ways on a daily basis? I think we’re still a couple of years away from ubiquitous AI, but it’s the heartbeat of this year’s show, and it’s going play a part in almost everything we do in the very near future. AI applications at this year’s show include manufacturing, transportation, energy, medicine, education, photography, communications, farming, grocery shopping, fitness, sports, defense, and entertainment, just to name a few. The AI revolution is just starting, but once it gets going, AI will continually reshape society for decades to come. This year’s show reinforces our decision to explore the roles that the XPRTs, beginning with AIXPRT, can play in the AI revolution.

Now for the fun stuff. Here’s a peek at a couple of my favorite displays so far. As is often the case, the most awe-inducing displays at CES are those that overwhelm attendees with light and sound. LG’s enormous curved OLED wall, dubbed the Massive Curve of Nature, was truly something to behold.

IMG_0268 - Copy

Another big draw has been Bell’s Nexus prototype, a hybrid-electric VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) air taxi. Some journalists can’t resist calling it a flying car, but I refuse to do so, because it has nothing in common with cars apart from the fact that people sit in it and use it to travel from place to place. As Elon Musk once said of an earlier, but similar, concept, “it’s just a helicopter in helicopter’s clothing.” Semantics aside, it’s intriguing to imagine urban environments full of nimble aircraft that are quieter, easier to fly, and more energy efficient than traditional helicopters, especially if they’re paired with autonomous driving technologies.

Version 2

Finally, quite a few companies are displaying props that put some of the “reality” back into “virtual reality.” Driving and flight simulators with full range of motion that are small enough to fit in someone’s basement or game room, full-body VR suits that control your temperature and deliver electrical stimulus based on game play (yikes!), and portable roller-coaster-like VR rides were just a few of the attractions.

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It’s been a fascinating show so far!

Justin

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

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

Thoughts from MWC Shanghai

I’ve spent the last couple days walking the exhibition halls of MWC Shanghai. The Shanghai New International Expo Centre (SNIEC) is large, but smaller than the MWC exhibit space in Barcelona or the set of exhibit halls in Las Vegas for CES. (SNIEC is not even the biggest exhibition space in Shanghai!) Further, MWC here still only took up half the exhibition space, but there was plenty to see. And, I’m less exhausted than after CES or MWC in Barcelona!

Photo Jun 28, 9 56 45 AM

If I had to pick one theme from the exhibition halls, it would be 5G. It seemed like half the booths had 5G displayed somewhere in their signage. The cloud was the other concept that seemed to be everywhere. While neither was surprising, it was interesting to see halfway around the world. In truth, it feels like 5G is much farther along here than it is back in the States.

I was also surprised to see how many phone vendors are here that I’d never heard of before such as Lephone and Gionee. I stopped by their booths with XPRT Spotlight information and hope they will send in some of their devices for inclusion in the future.

One thing I found of note was how much technology in general and IoT in particular is going to be everywhere. There was an interesting exhibit showing how stores of the future might operate. I was able to “buy” items without traditionally checking out. (I got a free water and some cookies out of the experience.) I just placed the items in a location on the checkout counter, which read their NFC labels and displayed them on the checkout screen. It seemed sort of like my understanding of the experiments that Amazon has been doing with brick-and-mortar grocery stores (prior to their purchase of Whole Foods). The whole experience felt a bit odd and still unpolished, but I’m sure it will improve and I’ll get used to it.

Photo Jun 29, 12 04 30 PM

The next generation will find it not odd, but normal. There were exhibits with groups of children playing with creative technologies from handheld 3D printers to simplified programming languages. They will be the generation after digital natives, maybe the digital creatives? What impact will they have? The future is both exciting and daunting!

I came away from the conference thinking about how the XPRTs can help folks choose amongst the myriad devices and technologies that are just around the corner. What would you most like to see the XPRTs tackle in the next six months to a year?

Bill Catchings

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