Posted by Jeevan Jayaprakash
In this issue, we look at the machine learning capabilities that Amazon is now offering to its customers, FitBit’s imminent purchase of Pebble as well as a very interesting read about habit forming products from The Economist.
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Hi Mum! Said Dad
Amazon also confirms that they are making machine learning more accessible for developers
We brought you the news last week that Google is opening up its machine learning services to enterprises via the cloud. Not one to be left behind, Amazon have also followed suit and confirmed they will be doing the same through Amazon Web Services.
Like Google, Amazon will offering image recognition and analysis via its ‘Rekognition’ service. Amazon went to some lengths to stress that their Rekognition service can identify the species of a dog in a picture — although this doesn’t actually outdo what the likes of Google and Microsoft are already offering. Amazon will also be offering an intelligent text-to-speech service called Polly. Polly is said to be intelligent enough to understand homographs and accounts for the difference in pronunciation (e.g. the pronunciation of the word live in “I live in Seattle” and “Live from New York”).
The product that garnered the most attention however was Amazon Lex (the technology that underpins Amazon’s popular Alexa). Lex will allow developers to build web and mobile applications that feature multi-step conversations. Bots built in Lex can also be used as a means of controlling robots, drones and toys. Furthermore, it will also feature a number of enterprise connectors and easy integration with platforms such as Facebook Messenger, Slack and Twilio.
Fitbit closes in on Pebble deal
Fitbit is set to purchase Pebble for a price rumoured to between £27 and £31 million. Sources close to the deal have confirmed that the negotiations are in the latter stages and should be completed soon.
It is expected that the Pebble name will be phased out over time as FitBit sees more value in Pebble’s intellectual property and operating system (Pebble OS), as opposed to the brand. The Pebble OS features one of the largest app catalogues of any wearable OS and can be paired with iPhone and Android devices. However, as rumours of the deal began to leak, there has been a backlash from longtime Pebble fans who fear that the deal will lead to a loss of the open source aspect that has made Pebble so popular.
This deal comes at a time when smartwatch manufacturers have been repurposing their offerings with fitness sitting at the heart of it. Pebble have also gone down this route, giving FitBit even more reason to pursue this deal.
Wearables are clearly very popular with consumers (for reasons that are likely to go beyond just fitness) but one of our recent pieces considers the efficacy of these fitness trackers/smartwatches.
Behaviour design as a means to hooking users
We came across a very interesting piece from The Economist which goes into some detail about intrinsic human behaviours and dispositions that underpin a field called ‘Behaviour design’.
Behaviour design is a field founded by B.J. Fogg, a computer scientist based at the University of Stanford. Many of his former students have gone on to launch successful startups in Silicon Valley (including Nir Eyal whose book “Hooked: How to build habit-forming products” made the Wall Street Journal business bestsellers list) and many of his insights have also informed our day to day experiences with the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.
Any attempt to summarise this feature would be a disservice to the author, Ian Leslie, who has crafted a highly comprehensive and compelling story.
Originally written as part of Hi Mum! Said Dad’s Weekly Digest.
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