Hello Moto Alexa

Motorola makes its smartphones known with its ad campaign.  A sexy, European woman spouts the phrase: “hello moto” to give Motorola smartphones a mysterious, edgy vibe.  The European woman should start saying, “hello Alexa,” because Amazon Alexa will be a new accessory to the phone.  Wireless and Mobile News shares that, “Moto To Mod With Amazon Alexa + Integrate Alexa With All Smartphones.”

Other than the simple catchphrase, Moto phones are known for their add-on accessories dubbed Moto Mods.  Moto Mods snap onto the back of Motorola phones with magnets and enhance the phones abilities.  The Mods are such things as a battery power pack, a camera lens, and a projector.  Amazon Alexa will be a new Mod, which will be available later this year for the Moto Z model.  What will the Mod Alexa do?

With the Amazon Alexa Moto Mod, you can do daily tasks while on the go, such as controlling your smart home, checking the news, ask for Uber, and other Amazon Alexa skills using your voice. For example, when you start your commute home, you can ask Alexa to adjust your home’s temperature so it’s comfortable when you get there. Or, you can buy something from Amazon Prime without a computer or smartphone. You can also say, “Alexa, enable Feel-Goodies” and then any time when say “Alexa, do Feel-Goodies” she will say something to help you feel better about yourself.

The Alexa Mod will always be on so that it will be able to listen to user commands.  This will, of course, put extra strain on the battery life and will require the phone to be unlocked at all times.  Motorola phones are known for their battery longevity and the Alexa Mod might even have some battery recharging capabilities.

The bigger concerns come with security, but also later this year, as Moto further integrates Alexa into its system, the phone will not need to be unlocked.

Security and privacy will be an increasing concern as Alexa and Google Home devices become more popular.   Do hackers already have ways to vocally command these digital assistants to share a user’s personal information?  Perhaps the hackers and the digital assistants only whisper to each other.

Whitney Grace, May 2, 2017

Et Tu, Echo?

The International Business Times reports, “Amazon Says Alexa Protected by First Amendment, Will Not Hand Over Evidence in Murder Case.” Police insist Amazon produce recordings from an Echo speaker found streaming music at the scene of a 2013 drowning in Arkansas, hoping they will demonstrate whether the death was an accident or a homicide. Writer Agamoni Ghosh summarizes Amazon’s position:

The company says the AI-based speaker is protected by the First Amendment and that both user’s commands and the device’s response come under protected speech.”

The Echo’s owner is a suspect in the case. Amazon has relinquished associated subscriber information and purchase history, but say prosecutors have not made a strong enough case for access to the recordings. What would make a case strong enough?

Cynthia Murrell, March 27, 2017

Intelligent Workplaces Yet to be a Reality

AI driven search has already made its way into mobile devices. However, for the technology to make inroads into enterprise content management systems, the data first needs to be structured, a major roadblock.

CMS Wire in an article titled How AI-Driven Search Could Bring Us Closer to the Intelligent Workplace says:

AI-enabled search promises to transform the way people interact with information and digital assets, driving new efficiencies and creating value from information that has been all but lost in the “digital junk drawers

Unlike search queries made by general users, corporate queries will have to produce precise results. For this to happen, the underlying data to be indexed by the AI system needs to be highly structured. However, considering the complex and sensitive nature of corporate data, how large corporations will allow third-parties to develop AI driven search remains to be seen.

What would be more interesting to see is how employees of such organizations will be able to use these AI assistants on their smartphones for executing corporate queries.

Vishal Ingole, March 22, 2017

Alexa and the First Amendment

Arkansas Police Department is trying to get 48-hours of recordings of Echo owned by a murder victim. Amazon, however, is refusing to do so raising the First Amendment clause.

Quartz in a news piece titled Amazon Argues That Alexa Is Protected by the First Amendment in a Murder Trial says:

Alexa’s recordings and responses are subject to free speech protections under the US constitution’s bill of rights, and that prosecutors need to provide more evidence that this audio is essential to the case.

According to Amazon’s lawyers, Alexa recordings provide deep insights into the life of a user through its recordings and if law enforcement agencies are given access to it, it would be invasion of privacy. Now that the cat is out of the bag, Amazon now needs to explain to its users how secure voice controlled devices are from hackers? One cannot forget that many secure networks have been cracked in the past by efficient team of hackers.

Vishal Ingole, March 20, 2017

Line, In-Line for AI With Clova

Instant messaging app Line is all set to introduce AI based virtual assistant Clova to its 21 million users in Asia. Like other personal digital assistants, Clova, apart from holding intelligent conversations with the users, can also manage smart appliances, make purchases and do other tasks.

An article published on Tech In Asia and titled With a Siri Rival and a Holographic Girlfriend, Line Makes a Big AI Push, the author of the article says:

The big push into AI comes as Line is struggling in Facebook’s shadow. The app lost three million active users in the final three months of last year, stumbling from 220 to 217 million. Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp each have a billion users.

Makers of Line are now betting on AI to supplement their revenue streams. Apart from acquiring controlling stake in Japanese Gatebox – a virtual home robot – Line will be assisting its users to make payments, book cabs and make purchases that will help them earn commissions. The AI space is definitely heating up, and acquisitions will become the order of the day. And considering the large user base in Asia, the battles for market share will be fiercer here.

Vishal Ingole, March 13, 2017