DMA TECH WATCH: Siri’s Younger Sister, Google’s Minivans & More

By Phill Powell

Welcome to DMA Tech Watch, where we review the biggest news events and tech trends now on the radar. Here’s what we’re watching as of May 9, 2016:

WILL VIV BECOME THE NEW SIRI?


Siri’s “dad” announces his latest project at TechCrunch Disrupt NY.

Smartphone queries are about to get infinitely richer and deeper. That news comes from Siri’s creator, Dag Kittlaus, co-founder and CEO of Siri.

Kittlaus has been busy on a follow-up project and has now revealed (at TechCrunch Disrupt NY) that it’s another voice-based assistant.

He announced that “Viv” will feature even more powerful AI than Siri and will be fully networked with various service providers (like florists), so your purchasing wish can instantly become Viv’s command.

Even more impressive should be Viv’s machine learning. The AI will be customized to grow and learn as it operates, using its increasing understanding of the person using it to answer queries that are far more involved than typical Siri searches.

SELF-DRIVING MINIVANS: GOOGLE JOINS FORCES WITH MAJOR AUTOMAKER

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Google will get engineering help and production muscle from its new partner, Fiat Chrysler.

Google’s been exploring the autonomous vehicle market for seven years now and already has 50+ self-driving cars. Now it also has a new partner in its efforts to expand that fleet, and it’s a well-established carmaker: Fiat Chrysler.

The companies will work directly together to outfit about 100 Chrysler Pacifica minivans with the computers and sensors necessary for self-driving.

The installation of equipment will take place in Detroit, overseen by Fiat Chrysler engineers. Then the vans will be transported to the West Coast for testing, first on Google test tracks, and then on public roads.

Google’s ambitious goal: Have self-driving cars ready to market nationally by 2020.

CHINA STILL COMING ON STRONG, ASSURES APPLE’S CEO

Apple_and_China
Apple’s Cook: “I could not be more optimistic about China.”

When you’re Apple, you can become a victim of your own success. Recently, Apple’s first-quarter sales in China dipped about 11 percent, as compared to 2015’s first-quarter sales.

While some shareholders became nervous because of the drop, Apple’s Tim Cook pointed out to CNBC financial analyst Jim Cramer it would have been nearly impossible to duplicate the explosive growth from early 2015, because that’s when the iPhone 6 was introduced – sparking a massive consumer feeding frenzy.

Bright spots in Cook’s comments: 1) China buys more Apple products than any other foreign country, spending about $58 billion annually; 2) Within just 5 years, China’s middle class will grow to 500 million tech-savvy, smartphone-using consumers (who love cool apps for iPhone); and 3) Apple is now poised to take advantage of several emerging foreign markets, such as India.

BRINGING HIGH-TECH LESSONS TO AMERICAN CLASSROOMS

Nearpod_End-of-Year_Survival_Kits
Nearpod offers themed bundles of lessons. This bundle should appeal to teachers this time of year.

Offering a new kind of teaching platform, Nearpod is a new start-up that’s based on the idea that to teach effectively in a modern classroom, you should incorporate kids’ use of smartphones, not discourage it.

Nearpod works like this: Participating teachers select digital lessons that are then delivered via a Nearpod app. Students use their own smartphones to log in to the site and experience that lesson, which contains dynamic multimedia content and fun games.

Even though Nearpod’s just getting warmed up, some 1.6 million people (most of them students) already have accounts. It’s also estimated that more than 100,000 U.S. teachers in 10,000 schools have used the platform so far during 2016.

We love Nearpod’s concept, and share its interest in supercool virtual reality and how to make VR content!

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