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Huawei to pre-load Amazon’s Alexa AI on US version of its Mate 9 flagship

img_2322 Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant is having a good CES. Not only landing inside additional speaker hardware but finding entirely new incarnations in other connected household items — such as a lamp, a smart fridge and even a robot vacuum cleaner. Cars are on the cards too. Read More
Microsoft Office 2010
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You might be better at remembering things when you least expect it


It has been known for a while that experiencing emotion can influence how well we remember things.

Researchers from New York University have built on this knowledge and found evidence that reacting to something emotionally — like watching a sad scene in a film — may also improve how well you remember something you’ve seen, and this memory boost could continue as much as 30 minutes after experiencing the emotion.

This goes against the popular theory that being emotional can actually make memories fuzzy.

A group of 115 volunteers took part in the study, which was published last month in the journal Nature Neuroscience. They were split into groups and either shown images that would trigger an emotional reaction, and then neutral ones after 10 to 30 minutes, or the other way around. Six hours later the subjects had a surprise memory test, where the researchers asked them questions about the neutral images to see how well they remembered them.

The researchers measured participants’ physiological reactions using skin conductance. In healthy people, the skin momentarily conducts electricity better when we experience something physiologically arousing, so the researchers monitored this to see whether or not the subjects really were experiencing a necessary level of emotion. At the same time, the researchers used an fMRI scanner to monitor what the volunteers’ brains were up to.

The researchers wanted to find out two things: first, whether people could better remember the neutral images if they were shown them before or after being triggered emotionally by the emotional images, and second, whether brain regions that support emotional memory were more active and showed more connectivity in either case.

As it turns out, those that were shown the emotional stimuli before being shown the neutral images tended to better remember the neutral images.

According to the new research, when we get emotional, the amygdala in our brain is stimulated and our bodies often secrete adrenaline. Somehow, these two processes work on the hippocampus, which is the centre of memory function, and our memories for that time period are sharpened.

Dr Lila Davachi, senior author of the study and an associate professor in NYU’s Department of Psychology and Center for Neural Science, said in a statement that this is because creating memories does not just rely on the world we experience externally. 

“[It’s] also strongly influenced by our internal states,” she said. “These internal states can persist and colour future experiences.”

She added that this kind of “emotional hangover” influences how we take on board information for quite a long time afterwards.

“Emotion is a state of mind,” Davachi said. “These findings make clear that our cognition is highly influenced by preceding experiences and, specifically, that emotional brain states can persist for long periods of time.”

MRI images pointed towards this explanation. Brain regions such as the amygdala and anterior hippocampus are associated with both memory and emotions, and they lit up more after the emotional response, and were still engaged up to 30 minutes afterwards. 

This led the team to believe that the influence of emotion on memory in these areas of the brain can persist over many minutes, which was shown by the results, but the long-term impacts remain a mystery. 

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NOW WATCH: ‘We watched our kids cry on Christmas’: Parents are furious after disaster with the holidays’ hottest toy

Microsoft Office 2010
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BMW hopes Google's augmented reality Tango technology will help it to sell cars (GOOG)

BMW Tango   6

German car giant BMW is planning to use augmented reality technology developed by Google to help it sell cars.

The company announced on Thursday that it has released an Android app that utlitises Google’s new Tango technology, thereby enabling people to use their smartphones to view lifelike 3D models of certain BMW cars (the BMW i3 and the BMW i8) against a backdrop of the real world.

The app — developed by technology consultancy firm Accenture — allows people to walk around a virtual car that isn’t really there and even step inside and explore the interior. It was uploaded to the Google Play Store on Thursday but it will only work on Tango-enabled devices, which are only just appearing on the market but include the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro and the Asus Zenfone AR.

Using augmented reality in this way should allow BMW’s potential customers to familiarise themselves with its cars and explore various customisation options from the comfort of their living room. It should also provide car dealers with another tool to help them push their stock. BMW claims it is the first car company to use augmented reality in this way.

BMW Tango   1Andrea Castronovo, BMW Group’s VP of sales strategy and future retail, said in a statement: “Our vehicles are emotional products and to get that emotional feeling, you really need to experience them. In situations where the desired product isn’t available on the spot, this visualisation is the next best thing.”

Tango uses a combination of smartphone cameras, sensors and infrared to perceive the depth of an object.

Eric Johnsen, head of business development for augmented reality at Google, said in a statement: “The thing that sets Tango apart is the fact that it understands the context of the space that it’s in. So the wheels are really on the floor, for example, giving the whole experience a much more realistic feel.”

The BMW partnership with Google and Accenture highlights the increasing trend of car makers working with tech giants. On Wednesday, Ford announced plans to embed Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa into its vehicles.

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NOW WATCH: This machine solves the most time-consuming things about doing laundry

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Fintech unicorn Funding Circle is getting an extra £40 million of UK government money to lend to businesses

Funding Circle

LONDON — The UK government has given peer-to-peer lending platform Funding Circle an extra £40 million to lend to small businesses.

The funding comes from the state-owned British Business Bank and means the total cash invested on Funding Circle’s platform is now £100 million. The British Business Bank committed £60 million to the platform in 2013.

That money has reportedly been distributed across 10,000 UK companies and earned the British Business Bank £5 million in net interest, according to a release from the British Business Bank sent to BI on Thursday. A Freedom of Information request seen by BI shows the British Business Bank money has funded £64 million worth of loans.

Catherine Lewis La Torre, CEO of British Business Bank Investments, says in an emailed statement: “Peer-to-peer lending is becoming an increasingly important source of finance for smaller businesses, with AltFi data showing an 85% increase in lending via the sector from 2014 to 2015.

“A key part of our remit is to support the development and growth of such finance markets, while earning an attractive, commercial return for the taxpayer. We look forward to seeing our latest commitment to Funding Circle enabling the growth and success of many more businesses across the UK.”

The British Business Bank was set up by the government in 2012 with £1 billion of funding to increase funding to small and medium enterprises (SMEs). It does not finance SMEs directly but works through partners and intermediaries to extend funding.

Funding Circle will loan the money it has secured to small British businesses. The money will not be invested in Funding Circle itself but on its platform, which matches investors with businesses looking to borrow.

James Meekings, cofounder and UK managing director of Funding Circle, says in a statement: “Over the last six years, Funding Circle has proved to be a more efficient way for small businesses to access the finance they need to grow and expand, whilst providing investors with attractive, stable returns. This further lending commitment is recognition of the success of the partnership to date and we look forward to working with the British Business Bank to help thousands more small businesses.

“This further lending commitment is recognition of the success of the partnership to date and we look forward to working with the British Business Bank to help thousands more small businesses.”

Funding Circle has over 55,000 investors on its platform, including individuals, local authorities, and financial institutions. It has lent over £1.7 billion since 2010.

Funding Circle is one of three peer-to-peer lending platforms which the British Business Bank invests through. The other two are RateSetter and MarketInvoice. The CEO of the Taxpayers Alliance told Business Insider last month he thinks the practice is “extremely concerning” given the financial regulator recently flagged “concerns” around the growing industry.

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NOW WATCH: Bernie Madoff explains in rare interview from prison how he rationalized his crimes

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Security expert: Ransomware took in $1 billion in 2016

Increased user awareness of phishing threats, better antivirus technology, more industry-wide information sharing and cross-border efforts by law enforcement authorities will combine to turn the tide against ransomware this year, according to some security experts, but others expect the attacks to continue to increase.

According to a security expert who requested anonymity, ransomware cybercriminals took in about $1 billion last year, based on money coming into ransomware-related bitcoin wallets.

That includes more than $50 million each for three wallets associated with the Locky ransomware, and a fourth one that processed close to $70 million. Cryptowall brought in close to $100 million before it was shut down this year. CryptXXX gathered in $73 million during the second half of 2016, and Cerber took in $54 million, the expert said.

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IBM: AI, IoT, and nanotech will literally change the way we see the world

 Perhaps the coolest thing about IBM’s 9th “Five Innovations that will Help Change our Lives within Five Years” predictions is that none of them sound like science fiction.

“With advances in artificial intelligence and nanotechnology, we aim to invent a new generation of scientific instruments that will make the complex invisible systems in our world today visible over the next five years,” said Dario Gil, vice president of science & solutions at IBM Research in a statement.

Among the five areas IBM sees as being key in the next five years include artificial intelligence, hyperimaging and small sensors. Specifically, according to IBM:

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New GOP H-1B bill appears to fall short of Trump’s goal

In the first week of the new Congress, U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is attempting to win support for a controversial H-1B reform bill.

The bill, introduced Wednesday, is called the “Protect and Grow American Jobs Act” (HR 170) and co-sponsored by Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.). It is aimed at tightening, but not closing, a loophole in the visa law that has benefitted large H-1B-using firms.

Issa introduced this bipartisan bill last July. It faced some criticism and stalled in committee. The big difference this year is the impending inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump.

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August Home paves the way to put a smart lock on doors internationally

august-mortis-3-4-viewoutdoor-urban-for-magazine August Home — which makes an internet-connected smart lock — already works for most door locks you’d typically find in the U.S. But it hasn’t had a product yet for a different style of lock called the Mortise lock just yet. That lock represents a smaller amount of the overall market in the U.S., but more importantly, it’s a lock that’s very common abroad.… Read More

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THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE AUTOMOBILE 2016: Forecasts, trends, and analyses on the disruption of the automotive industry

Estimated Connected Car Shipments

Over the past year, there has been a significant uptick in the number of connected cars on the road. And as internet integration becomes more commonplace, the automobile as we know it will transform.

Over the next five to 10 years, this internet integration is expected to change the car ownership model, create a new platform for consumers to access content, lead to fully autonomous vehicles, and revolutionize the auto industry.

The market position of the car today is similar to where the smartphone was in 2010 — it’s just taken off and is ready to explode. 

In a new report from BI Intelligence, we examine the transformation of the automobile. We examine all areas of the changing automotive market, including the market size for connected cars, automakers benefits and connection strategies, market leaders, consumer demand, and more.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

  • Over 380 million connected cars will be on the road by 2021. The market has seen a significant increase in automakers plans to connect the majority of the vehicles they sell and as a result, we’ve increased our 2015 forecast.
  • Automakers are connecting the vehicles they sell because the connection offers clear business opportunities.
  • Consumers are adopting the connected car faster than expected. We identify the 3 factors that causing the increase in demand.
  • Tech companies will play a major role in the future of the automotive market. The big question is whether tech companies will eventually manufacture cars?
  • Fully autonomous cars are only a few years away. Technological, regulatory, and consumer adoption hurdles still remain, but there have been many strides towards a car that can drive itself from point A to point B with little to no human interaction.

In full the report:

  • Forecasts connected car shipments
  • Identifies automakers strategy for connection
  • Analyzes consumer interest in the connected car
  • Examines Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Discusses the potential changing car ownership model
  • Describes the evolution of the self-driving car
  • Identifies top connected car and fully autonomous car barriers

Interested in getting the full report? Here are two ways to access it:

  1. Subscribe to an All-Access pass to BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report and over 100 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you’ll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally. >> Learn More Now
  2. Purchase & download the full report from our research store. >> Purchase & Download Now

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10 things in tech you need to know today

sundar pichai google ceo pixel launch

Good morning! Here’s the tech news you need to know this Thursday.

1. Amazon is reportedly bidding to buy American Apparel’s bankrupt business. The move could help it ease its tension with Donald Trump, as the brand’s products are made in the US.

2. Speculation is mounting that Mark Zuckerberg wants to serve in government. He plans to tour US states, and recent court filings said he is interested in public office.

3. Longtime Apple fans feel forced to buy “pathetic” and “old” Macs from 2013. The Mac Pro hasn’t been updated in three years.

4. Amazon’s voice-assistant Alexa is coming to its first smartphone. It will come built in to the Huawei Mate 9.

5. Publishing platform Medium has laid off one-third of its staff and closed two offices. CEO Evan Williams says the ad-driven media model is “broken.”

6. Apple has taken down New York Times apps in China after a government request. Both the English-language and Chinese-language apps have been removed.

7. Samsung and Google teamed up to make two shape-shifting Chromebooks that run Android apps. Samsung announced the Chromebook Plus and the Chromebook Pro on Wednesday.

8. A finance app will send you alerts if Trump tweets about stocks you own. The President-elect’s tweets can have a volatile effect on stocks.

9. Tesla is surging. Its stock reached an all-time high on Wednesday.

10. Intel handed out barf bags for its event at CES. They were in case attendees felt sick during the virtual reality experience.

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NOW WATCH: Apple revealed why some iPhones are randomly shutting down despite having battery life left

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