Archive for the ‘recognition’ tag
Chrome: Google Chrome has a built-in speech recognition system, but you can only use it in certain places. Dictation is a webapp that uses Chrome’s speech recognition engine, but allows you to dictate much larger chunks of text right inside a simple webapp. More »
The latest WikiLeaks release has shone a spotlight on an alleged domestic and foreign surveillance program run with cloud-based software provided by Texas company TrapWire, many of whose top leaders and employees are former members of three-letter American intelligence agencies.
WikiLeaks tweeted about it today, and the story quickly became a trending topic on Twitter:
WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) August 10, 2012
TrapWire produces software that is currently in use by Homeland Security, the military, U.S. intelligence agencies, and local police forces including the LAPD and the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, DC (whose chief recently praised the software). Private sector clients include major corporations in the energy, chemical, and financial industries.
TrapWire does three things: protect critical infrastructure by analyzing CCTV footage with face and pattern recognition algorithms to detect pre-attack patterns, provide online reporting systems for citizens to report suspicious behavior, and gather and analyze many sources of information to allow law enforcement to make sense of the masses of collected data.
If TrapWire does what it is intended to, it’s potentially a critical innovation that can help protect the U.S. from terrorism. Tying together disparate facts from multiple sources across geographies might have prevented 9-11. On the other hand, the secrecy, the integration with government, and the thought that a private corporation could have access to huge amounts of private citizens’ data is concerning to say the least.
The data WikiLeaks released was taken from more than five million emails allegedly stolen from a company with close ties and inside information about TrapWire, security information company Stratfor. Stratfor had a contract with TrapWire in which each company agreed to promote the other company’s products, and Stratfor agreed to feed its intelligence reports into the TrapWire system.
Then Stratfor was hacked by Anonymous in 2011, and Anonymous provided the emails to WikiLeaks.
In those emails, Stratfor says that TrapWire is in use in “Scotland Yard, #10 Downing, the White House, and many [multinational corporations].” Another talks about the Nigerian government being interested in TrapWire, and others imply that organizations as diverse and powerful as the Secret Service, MI5, and the Canadian RCMP are all clients.
And yet another leaked email from Fred Burton, Stratfor’s CEO, says “God Bless America. Now they have EVERY major [high-value target] in [the continental U.S.], the UK, Canada, Vegas, Los Angeles, NYC as clients.”
TrapWire was not always so secretive about its software. Company founder Richard Hollis spoke about the software in 2005, say that it:
… can collect information about people and vehicles that is more accurate than facial recognition, draw patterns, and do threat assessments of areas that may be under observation from terrorists. The application can do things like “type” individuals so if people say “medium build,” you know exactly what that means from that observer.
And in 2007, the company elaborated on how TrapWire works:
… the TrapWire rules engine analyzes each aspect of [reported security incidents] and compares it to all previously-collected reporting across the entire TrapWire network. Any patters detected — links among individuals, vehicles, or activities — will be reported back to each affected facility. This information can also be shared with law enforcement organizations …
The question becomes: Where does national security start and the public’s right (or need) to know end? And, to what extent should private companies be embedded in public surveillance?
Even tougher: does our security depend, at least in part, on our ignorance? Because if we learn about anti-terrorism methodologies, you can bet the bad guys do too.
There is as yet no statement from Stratfor, TrapWire Inc., or any of the named public security agencies.
Image credit: ShutterStock/Steven Finn
Now you can check-in to a location on Facebook through facial recognition scanning. The Redpepper ad agency claims to be beta testing a camera on the outside of a “Nashville business” that automatically checks patrons in to a location and offers them deals, after users have given the company access to their Facebook data (note: this was developed independently from Facebook). A video explanation of the technology, Facedeals, is below.
Facebook has come under intense congressional scrutiny for taking steps toward facial recognition, with the purchase of Face.com. However, after only a month, it ceased using the technology to automatically suggest which friends to tag in photos.
As Redpepper explains in a blog post, the alleged technology is done completely through a voluntary app:
The Facedeals app must be authorized via your Facebook account. With your help, the app verifies your most recent photo tags, using those to map the physical appearance of your face. Our custom-developed cameras then simply use this existing data to identify you in the real world. Personalized deals can now be delivered to your Smartphone from all participating locations—all you have to do is show your face.
Redpepper argues that the technology will help both consumers and businesses use the magic of Facebook to more efficiently dole out deals. What do you think? Creepy or awesome?
Our Facebook specialist Josh Constine wanted it be clear that Facedeals is not approved or endorsed by Facebook. It merely uses the social network as an easy way for people to upload photos for Facedeals to do its own facial recognition processing.
In fact, considering the name and coloring, Facedeals could get slapped with a trademark infringement lawsuit. Facebook is trying to downplay its use of facial recog technology, and probably won’t take kindly to this confusion and possibly fear-inducing employment of its platform.
Vandaag heeft de Google Translate app voor Android weer een update ontvangen. Ditmaal wordt OCR, Optical Character Recognition, toegevoegd aan de functionaliteiten. Met OCR krijgt de gebruiker de…
Chinese companies don’t view Siri in a favorable light, hence the creation of the Speech Industry Alliance of China (SIAC). They are willing to offer an alternative that is supposed to work better with Mandarin and Cantonese. In fact, iOS 6 will include a new version of Siri that understands and speaks Mandarin and Cantonese. It is a threat for Chinese mobile phone manufacturers, carriers and speech recognition software developers and it needs to be addressed.
One of the key points behind that new strategy is that developing speech recognition for multi-tone oriental languages is very hard. Apparently, according to early tests of Mandarin and Cantonese support in iOS 6 beta, it is still lacking and the alliance hopes to take advantage of that.
The 19 companies that are pooling resources for speech recognition include phone manufacturers such as Lenovo and Huawei, state-owned mobile phone carriers that want to diversify their product line to minimize Apple’s bargaining power such as China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom and speech recognition software developer Anhui USTC iFlytek.
iFlytek is already the leading provider of Chinese speech recognition technology with a market share of around 70 percent. For example, they currently sell text-to-speech software for business use.
But the real question is whether it is widely used in smartphones at the moment. Huawei has already launched smartphones with a deep integration of iFlytek Voice Input technology but it is still the very beginning of that initiative.
iFlytek Voice Input is available as a standalone app on Google Play as well. It is a highly rated app with a 4.6 average rating and it has been downloaded between 100,000 and 500,000 times according to Google.
With the Speech Industry Alliance of China, carriers could pre-install iFlytek Voice Input on Android devices and manufacturers could integrate it in their flavor of Android. Moreover, Shanghai-based voice assistant developer Zhizhen Network Technology has sued Apple over patent infringement. While the likely outcome is a multimillion-dollar compensation as in previous cases, it reminds us that if Chinese companies sue Apple, the court will tend to side with a Chinese company.
Yet, when it comes to speech recognition, many developers and manufacturers claimed to have developed similar solutions before Apple. The marketing power of Apple was superior and made speech recognition popular. Those Chinese companies are right to believe that it takes an alliance to take over Siri and offer a compelling alternative.
I’m not a fan of the, “_____ is dead” statements, but recently a pair of articles by Brian Millar (@arthurascii) claiming the end of branding caught my eye.
- Branding Talk Isn’t Helping Your Company: Here’s What Should Replace It
- Why Branding Is an Artifact of the Past
At the core, Millar argues that because companies can no longer control their brands—and, more importantly, consumer perceptions of them—that organizations should forget about active “branding” and instead focus on delivering quality experiences via great products. In other words: Walk the walk instead of talking the talk.
While I agree that the social business landscape makes it critical for companies to deliver on brand promises, I simply can’t get behind the idea that brand marketing as a practice should be left in the dust.
Just like many other business strategies, tools and tactics that have faced death’s door (including branding, which already faced its Monty Python-esque “not dead yet” moment back in 2009—see here and here), branding isn’t dead—it’s simply evolving.
- True: Traditional branding methods that center on creating the perfect tagline and ad campaign don’t cut it anymore.
- Truthier: Traditional branding principles—understanding and articulating your brand’s promise, differentiation, values, story—are potentially now more important than ever to breed customer loyalty and evangelism.
Successful brands today aren’t driven from the top down. But they can be driven from the inside out.
“You now have to decide what image you want for your brand. Image means personality. Products, like people, have personalities, and they can make or break them in the marketplace.”
To become a company that customers love and are loyal to, your brand vision must permeate the entire culture, and be shared in everything from product development to delivery. From the R&D team, to customer service reps, to the board.
“Perception is reality. Whether you and your business are engaged in the online world or not, with every action you take and decision you make, you are either building or weakening your brand. This presents enormous challenges, but even more significant are the opportunities … for brands that have the confidence to ‘bare it all’ and connect with audiences in more authentic and personal ways.”
Only by consistently delivering on one’s brand promise can organizations hope to expose audiences outside company walls—customers, shareholders, potential employees, etc.—to the culture that its founders and team worked so hard to create.
And while each individual’s unique experiences will shape his or her perception of your brand, by actively focusing on what this should be—to the point of making sure that it’s truly what your brand is—you can still have a heavy hand in guiding those experiences.
Beyond brand awareness, recognition and preference …
Outside of “feel-goodness,” branding has a far-reaching impact as the foundation of integrated inbound marketing efforts. In fact, over on his blog, Rand Fishkin (@randfish) recently discussed the importance of brand recognition in driving clickthroughs on search engine results, per a Microsoft study.
From a future-success standpoint, I look to Umair Haque (@umairh), who talks about winning companies being those that aim toward Betterness—those that exist for more than making a profit, to truly improve the lives of their customers and communities. Do you think this is possible without a clear brand vision, a purpose, and a dedicated team to deliver upon it?
A tweet I came across recently from Chris Winfield (@chriswinfield) summed this all up quite nicely:
You’re the mother lion and your brand is the cub. Protect it!
— Chris Winfield (@chriswinfield) August 3, 2012
What are your thoughts on the relevance of branding today? I’d love to hear them.
Google told reporters today that the future of web search looks identical to Apple’s Siri, admitting, “if we are going to build the search of the future, we will have to solve difficult technology issues like speech recognition and natural language.”
Twitter is not just for kids. Smart business tweeters know that the social network is a great tool in promotion, brand recognition and customer interaction. The same goes for other social media sites – (Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+) the number of them growing by the day. (Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
Someone should send the boss a memo.
In a recent survey done by the social media branding firm BRANDfog, respondents said that CEOs and other company leaders who use platforms like Twitter effectively are regarded more highly by customers and their employees. An overwhelming amount (86%) of respondents said that CEO involvement in social media campaigns is “somewhat important” to “mission-critical.” Here are some of the other findings:
- A whopping 94% said that a company with social media-friendly executives contributed to a better brand image
- 78% believed that better communication is established when CEOs engage in social media
- 77% of respondents said they were more likely to do business with a company whose leadership team used social media to carve out company values
- 71% said that brand recognition and image improved with social media savvy company leadership
- 64% felt that more transparency was present when company executives communicated through social media platforms
So it seems like a relatively easy concept, right? The big shots — yes, the top executives — need to spend a few minutes every day tweeting, updating statuses and accepting friend requests. But they’re not doing it… quite yet.
According to The CMO Council, however, executives are slower to pick up emerging web technologies than their employees. It is a trend that presents significant roadblocks for companies trying to compete in a rapidly-growing, social-media-heavy marketplace. In order to reap the many benefits survey respondents mentioned, company leaders need to stop stalling and get onboard the social media technology train.
And then there’s this…
Use of social media is not the only way CEOs and other executives can help their business compete in the increasingly digital economy. Expressing the value of social media campaigns to other employees is also vital to a company’s success. A MIT Sloan Management Review research report entitled “Social Business: What Are Companies Really Doing?” found that the success of the social aspect of a business relies directly on the involvement of company leaders. When the head honchos made social media branding a priority, employees followed suit with exponential results.
The report suggests that some experimentation is needed before a company can develop a social media game plan. Once one is in place, metrics should be used to measure the effectiveness of social media campaigns in order to make the best use of company time. In other words, for some companies, Twitter may be for the birds but an industry-specific social network may work wonders.
So what are the takeaways from all these facts and figures?
- Social media IS important in business promotion and brand image
- CEOs and other members of the C-Suite need to embrace social media technology and use it often
- Employees have more confidence in company executives that communicate through social media platforms
- Metric systems should be developed in order to determine the effectiveness of social media in business activity
- Companies perform better all-around with the aid of social media
A good leader is one that sees trends in his or her industry and adapts to them. A great leader is one that Tweets about it.
About our Guest Author: Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide. Megan also is an expert locksmith writer.
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Even though Nuance’s desktop voice recognition software is getting a bit long in the tooth, the company clearly understands the potential for its technology in mobile devices, after powering Apple’s Siri and releasing useful apps of its own.
Today Nuance announced Nina, a collection of personal assistant technologies that will bring Siri-like functionality to customer service mobile apps for the likes of banks and insurance companies. Using a combination of voice biometrics, speech recognition, natural language recognition, and other Nuance tech, Nina will be able to recognize your voice and also step you through customer service options.
Basically, Nina could mean the end of convoluted customer service phone trees. It’s also the natural progression for Nuance’s voice recognition technology, which, in addition to powering Apple’s Siri, runs dictation on Android and other mobile platforms.
Naturally, Nina includes a software development kit for developers to tap into, and it comes with a pre-made virtual assistant persona. Developers can also customize the persona to their apps — allowing for a more intimate customer service experience than a traditional phone tree. Nina is powered by Nuance’s Virtual Assistant Cloud, which handles all of the heavy-duty processing for voice recognition (so it’s not entirely reliant on your device). The company claims that Nina is the first virtual assistant software to combine voice biometrics and voice recognition.
Nuance announced today that the USAA, which provides banking services to the U.S. military, has already signed up to use Nina in its app. The USAA will launch a pilot program featuring Nina in August, and all of its members will have access to the technology in early 2013.
Nuance is targeting Nina at large businesses instead of small indie developers. Businesses can sign up for Nina starting today.
Document management has been a perennial challenge over the years, but German Doo recently launched a new solution. The new cloud service collects and organizes both local and online documents and stores them centrally in a secure and easily searchable way.
Newcomers to Doo, which is now in beta, begin by defining where the service should search for files, whether locally or online. Email accounts as well as Google Docs, Dropbox and Evernote can all be included, and users can specify individual documents manually as well. Doo then automatically analyzes the documents with a text recognition algorithm, tags them and safely stores them in a single, central location. With tags like “invoice,” “date,” “sender,” “place” and “.pdf,” users can easily find the right document in seconds, says Doo, which is also working on enabling legally valid document exchange. Meanwhile, Doo also enriches the data from documents with company information, contact details, or geographical coordinates. In addition, it can extract relevant due dates from documents and automatically set reminders. Last but not least, Doo can identify document creation and modification dates, allowing for searching and filtering by date or time span.
Now available for Windows 8 and Mac OS X Lion, Doo is free for up to 2,000 documents or 1GB of storage. Thereafter, pricing begins at EUR 4.99 per month. Entrepreneurs around the globe: one to try out on your own document stream?
Spotted by: Vitus Zeller