Archive | May, 2014

Cognitive Computing

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Cognitive Computing

Through the years, we’ve all seen our share of talking, anthropomorphic computers in the small and silver screen: there’s K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider, the Red Queen from Resident Evil, and more recently, Samantha, the amorous OS from the movie Her. And just when we think that this kind of technology is years away from becoming a reality, IBM is about to transform the way computers interact with us. IBM has invented Watson, the world’s first cognitive computer. Unlike Apple’s Siri or Windows’ Cortana, Watson boasts a more advanced cognitive technology that can process information more like a human brain. Watson is capable of understanding natural language instead of relying on entered information. It can learn new things and even generate and evaluate hypotheses by “reading” vast amounts of data. And to make Watson even more humanlike, IBM recently acquired Cognea, an Australian startup that makes virtual assistants with personalities. This latest acquisition may usher in the new era of cognitive computing, and it seems only a matter of time before we begin having real conversations with our computers.

Streaming the future

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Streaming the future

Last week, rumours circulated that Apple is buying Beats Electronics for a massive $3.2 billion. Beats Electronics founded by legendary music producer Jimmy Lovine and rapper Dr Dre, produce trendy headphones and a streaming music service. If negotiations pan out, it would be Apple’s largest acquisition to date. So why would Apple shell out billions for Beats? Music-industry data shows that after years of steady growth, digital-music downloads around the world started declining last year as people turned to Spotify, YouTube and Pandora Media. The iTunes music store is one of Apple’s favourite treasures, and its income, relevance and dominance must be protected at all costs.

How does this arms race all end? Our prediction is that increased competition (with some big players at the table) will mean two things; continued revenue and margin decline for artists, and continued cost savings for consumers as service providers fight to grab market share.

Australian companies continue to attract investment

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Australian companies continue to attract investment

Australian technology companies are continuing to raise funds in 2014 with hipages Group the latest company this week to join the likes of Campaign Monitor, Siteminder, SmartSparrow and SocietyOne in raising capital from industry and professional investors. hipages are aiming to take the stress out of finding a trusted tradie in Australia. The Australian building and home improvement market generates over $96bn of revenue a year spread across ~240,000 trades businesses in Australia, and hipages look set to continue to disrupt a large and growing market. The $6m capital injection came from Right Click Capital, Ellerston Capital, Australian Ethical Investment, KTM Capital, and Baillieu Holst as hipages plan to scale their network of 500,000 consumers and over 40,000 registered tradies.

Australian companies are continuing to innovate at a rate of knots, attracting the interest of global markets, investors and strategics, making it the seventh largest country by deal value in Internet DealBook’s 2013 Annual Report. How long will it be until we see the next billion dollar Australian tech exit?

Cisco: at the forefront of the IoT revolution

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Cisco: at the forefront of the IoT revolution

We live in a connected world. We are constantly attached to technology through our smartphones and are able to perform simple actions at the touch of a screen. If you believe what analysts are saying about the Internet of Things (IoT), smart devices are just the beginning of the IoT phenomenon and we are about to see everyday things like cars, buses, motors, refrigerators, and even clothes and shoes performing certain tasks for us. The connected home and connected city are coming and when they arrive they’re going to change the way we live.

The sheer potential of IoT knows no bounds and Cisco understands this. According to Cisco research, more than 50 billion devices will be connected to the Internet by 2020 and that the IoT industry has the the potential to grow globally to as much as US$14.4 trillion by 2022. Which is why last week, the company, through its venture capital arm Cisco Investments, invested in IoT startups including EVRYTHING and Ayla Networks. It also infused funds to Alchemist Accelerator which will diversify to include startups focused on the IoT. The funding is part of Cisco Investments’ “thematic investing,” with dedicated funds totalling US$250 million.