May 7, 2020

15 Technologies That Will Disrupt The Industry In The Next Five Years

Five years ago, the words "artificial intelligence" and "machine learning" were on everyone's lips. Today, these technologies form a core part of how companies do business. Because technology is ever-evolving, there will always be new tech emerging on the horizon.

However, the past has shown us that not every emerging technology can remain relevant, much less disrupt entire sectors of the economy. With each new crop of technologies, there are usually a few that have that potential. Fifteen members of Forbes Technology Council discuss some of today’s emerging technologies that they expect to be game-changers in the next five years.

1. 5G Technology

The biggest disruptors are those that simplify the user experience, and 5G accomplishes just that. Even in fields like customer service, 5G can both enhance and simplify the customer experience. Voice calls will be clearer, video support more accessible and greater bandwidth will enable the widespread adoption of AI/automation. The result? Richer, easier and more helpful customer support. - Mike De La Cruz, Directly

2. Unsupervised Machine Learning

Unsupervised machine learning (UML) is disrupting how we leverage data for predictions and intelligence. Unlike traditional ML, it works without any data training or labeling, which enables it to recognize and flag unknown patterns and make more accurate predictions. UML eliminates the limitations of preexisting knowledge or human bias, and will therefore enable insights never before possible. - Yinglian Xie, DataVisor

3. Robotic Accuracy And Automation

The next game-changer will be more human intelligence-based robotics and automation. Think about drones delivering packages with human understanding: "Please place this order beside this vase on my living room table." If the vase got moved, the drone will realize that it moved at delivery time (vision recognition) and either deliver it there or ask the user for a new precise delivery location. - Ayman Shoukry, Specright Inc.

4. Intelligent Tech Revolutionizing Security

Intelligent technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning are already enabling us to respond more dynamically to information sharing over email. It’s possible to detect when someone is about to make a mistake, as well as detect intentionally risky behavior such as exfiltrating data. This technology will revolutionize the way organizations consume security solutions and ensure that email is safe to use. - Tony Pepper, Egress

5. Connected Telehealth Solutions

As the pandemic strains hospitals, I’m encouraged by policy changes and shifts in public opinion that will lead to widespread adoption of telehealth. New telehealth apps, when made interoperable with critical patient data in electronic health records and other platforms of engagement for healthcare providers and payers, will change the paradigm with how care can be delivered more effectively. - David Wenger, Bridge Connector

6. Augmented And Virtual Reality

Virtual reality and augmented reality devices are becoming more capable and cost-effective by the minute. The possibility of using a VR space to interact with customers or co-workers seems much more plausible, and provides a richer interaction. The virtual experience may provide another revenue stream from customers, or be a sales tool to entice them to experience it for real. - Luke Wallace, Bottle Rocket

7. Hyperautomation

Hyperautomation provides companies with a framework to use a combination of AI and MLto identify and automate any business processes. Hyperautomation can span across a range of tools that can be automated, but also refers to the overall complexity of the automation. Robust data warehousing and availability of historical data becomes integral to being able to analyze the trends and gaps in current processes. - Jahn Karsybaev, Prosource IT

8. Edge Computing

AI and ML will increase in effectiveness when moving processing closer to the user. Edge computing will transform how data is processed and delivered to the end user, along with 5G data networks. New applications and the explosion of IoT devices will drive this new paradigm. - William McSorley, WM3 Group LLC

9. Spatial Computing

Spatial computing provides a new relationship between humans and digital content. Controlling interfaces with eyes, gestures and voice in a seamless and integrative manner offers a new precedent for interaction with the world. The technology has been partially used in semi-autonomous cars, drones and robots. The digital world will become more and more seamless with the real world. - Alexandro Pando, Xyrupt Technologies

10. Quantum Computing And IoT

AI and ML will continue to be on trend, but a few other things are coming. First of all, we’re talking about quantum computing. Once this moves from prototype to practice, it will create a breakthrough similar to the invention of the computer or the launch of the internet. The second thing that is trendy now and will continue to grow is IoT. Devices and their practical application are growing daily and will continue to grow. - Boris Kontsevoi, Intetics Inc.

11. DataOps

Given how many technologies we have gathering and transmitting data, I feel that DataOps will become more essential going forward. Organizations will need to adopt agile approaches and increase collaboration to manage and analyze the data. When they do, they'll unleash a wave of insights that will drive transformations at all levels, big and small. - Thomas Griffin, OptinMonster

12. Natural Language Processing

Natural language processing (NLP) seems to be a game-changer these days. We want robots to be able to process human speech and be able to intelligently react to it. A minor change in a sentence can dramatically change the intent, so we want to make sure robots can handle them! - Gev Balyan, UCRAFT

13. Value Stream Management

Value stream management (VSM) is definitely a game-changer, because this breakthrough technology is now seen through a different lens—a lens of an (almost) completely remote workforce. You now need VSM to maintain visibility, which is a critical component of successful software development in the new world. - Bob Davis, Plutora

14. Additive Manufacturing

Complex geometries unsupported by traditional machining and injection molding can now be created on demand with a single print. As 3D printing becomes increasingly integral to the manufacturing zeitgeist, more businesses will have access to rapid prototyping, tooling and direct manufacturing, and acquire new core competencies. The world is on the cusp of fully embracing this disruptive technology. - Christopher Yang, Corporate Travel Management

15. Regulatory Tech Coming To Government

I'm interested in seeing how regulation tech develops. This category of technology enables governments to implement enforcement and monitoring activities required by law. This trend has the potential to make it easier for businesses and individuals to comply with regulations. There is also a dark side to this trend—how will it impact privacy and freedom? - Nelson Cicchitto, Avatier Corporation

This article was originally published on Forbes.com.

June 26, 2018

Bottle Rocket’s 7th Annual Rocket Science Hackathon

Rumblings of newly released features and tools from WWDC and Google I/O have subsided, but that doesn’t mean we’ve moved on from them. Quite the opposite, really.

Each year, we set aside two full days of work to explore emerging technologies, challenge ourselves to learn something new, collaborate with our co-workers, and make something amazing. Bottle Rocket’s annual two-day hackathon, Rocket Science, is a chance for all Rocketeers to explore new technologies or interests while creating something fun for the office or potentially life-changing for its users.

With nearly 30 projects this year, this recap would be a little hefty if we were to cover them all. So, here’s 5 that we can’t stop talking about.

hands holding an iPhone displaying current location on map

Project Title: CF Alert
Tech Explored: Progressive Web Apps (PWA)

Cystic Fibrosis is a devastating disease afflicting more 30,000 Americans with more than 75 percent of those diagnosed before turning two years old. As if that weren’t enough, children with Cystic Fibrosis cannot be within approximately 20 feet of each other due to the risk of transferring bacteria that can lead to serious infection in other patients. With that in mind, team CF Alert built a proof of concept PWA that would notify parents when another parent of a Cystic Fibrosis child was within 20 feet of them. This PWA concept was simple, elegant, and easy to use, and could potentially be life-saving for families coping with this serious condition.

Russell Mirabelli presents the Metal Detector App

Project Title: How Metal Am I?
Tech Explored: Create ML and CoreML

Leveraging Machine Learning for image and audio frequency analysis, this team looked to answer just how METAL something was. Simply snap a photo or let the “Metal Detector” app listen to the sounds around you and it will provide a Metal Quotient for how hardcore it is. While showcasing the app in the photo above, Russell took a selfie which resulted in a 34% Metal score, which is probably largely due to the Led Zeppelin shirt.

Project Title: Empathy Lab
Tech Explored: Analog

Several accessibility experts at Bottle Rocket worked together to create a truly interactive experience to help others empathize with those that are not able to use traditional inputs for technology that we interact with on a daily basis. For instance, how do you tap on a touch screen when you are unable to use your hands? This team set out to convey those struggles. Seen at the top of this page, the blue bar in the image is actually a form of crosshair that will move across the screen and stop when a Switch is triggered. From there, another horizontal line will appear, and the process is repeated. The user must time their taps to intersect the blue lines over the icon or button they want to click. It’s difficult to imagine what it’s like to have to use these devices in everyday life, but this experience definitely shed some light on the importance of designing with these needs in mind.

MacBook and Google Home sitting on table

Project Title: Device Manager Voice App
Tech Explored: Google Assistant and Firebase

As Digital Voice Assistant adoption continues to rise, we continue to look for applications of the devices that go beyond simple “questions and answers.” Just as the name says, this team was able to use a Google Assistant App to manage our Quality Assurance device cabinet (which by the way currently includes over 400 devices). Instead of picking out a device, walking up to the checkout system, entering your name, scrolling to find the device (you get the picture), Rocketeers can now walk up and have a conversation with Google to expedite the checkout process.

NERF gun altered to include Arduino hardware

Project Title: BLAST'EM
Tech Explored: Image recognition, Arduino, Machine Learning

Tired of Imperials marching across your lawn? BLAST ‘EM has a solution to rid you of those pesky Stormtroopers. By combining Machine Learning and Arduino supplies, this team was able to create an automated Nerf gun that could recognize a Stormtrooper and fire after finding the target. The best part? They saw about a 25% success rate when using a paper mask, but nearly 100% success rate once Founder and CEO, Calvin Carter, ran over and grabbed his homemade Stormtrooper helmet.

CEO, Calvin Carter, is shot by NERF gun while wearing stormtrooper helmet

As this year’s 7th annual Rocket Science comes to a close, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention just a few other notable projects that our Rocketeers conceived and created over the course of 48 hours.

  • AR Smile: An Augmented Reality app that would place emojis where it detected smiles and frowns in a room
  • Mix Up: A PWA for creating and rating cocktails
  • OWL Stats ML: A Machine Learning model that attempted to predict winners of Major League Gaming competitions
  • AR Multi-Player Piano: An Augmented Reality app that allows multiple people to place virtual keyboards in the real world – then play them and record the audio from their session
  • Kegerator 3.0: A team that created a display for the “Double Tap” Kegerator with an app that allows Rocketeers to see what beers are currently available along with the ability to rate them

Our “favorite fail” of the year goes to a team that attempted to teach a computer to play Mario Kart on an iPad, only to find out the emulator and Machine Learning model required different versions of iOS.

Want to learn more about the technologies used in this year’s Rocket Science and how they can benefit your business? Contact us today.

February 15, 2018

What You Need To Know About AI

Lately, when clients come to me as a consultant, Artificial Intelligence (AI) usually comes up in our conversation. And when I’m asked, “How do I use it?” that tends to actually mean “What is it?” Let’s reach a basic understanding of AI so when you’re ready to explore what AI can offer, your discussion can be as productive as it can be.

What Is Artificial Intelligence?

As the name implies, AI is the intelligent behavior of machines. Most companies could utilize AI to interpret complex data. Here’s how it works (in a very simple way): The AI model asks a set of data a question and returns an answer. To accomplish this task, an AI model needs to understand the data it’s interpreting. So, for AI to deliver accurate, useful information, an AI model needs to be trained on the data it’s given. We’ll get into that soon, but first let’s talk about that data.

Learning From Data

For Artificial Intelligence to work, it needs to learn from specific kinds of data. With organized, not random, data, an AI platform can learn what it needs to. Let’s say you want to train an AI model to identify dogs in images. Organized data would consist of animal images, including dogs, to help the AI discern what is and what is not a dog. Random data (in this case, images of tables, lawnmowers, anything not reasonably close to our concept of a dog) doesn’t help the AI distinguish dogs from other animals. Know what’s in your data and you should be able to avoid any randomness.

At this point, I should clarify that AI isn’t actually telling you what something is — AI tells you what something probably is not. This is determined through a prediction percentage -- you’re not teaching an AI model to know an animal is a dog but rather training it to tell you it’s a certain percentage confident it recognized a dog. If you’ve been feeding your AI model with images of only dogs and cats, then introduce an image of a squirrel, your AI will be less certain of what it sees. But, once you teach the AI model what a squirrel looks like, the AI can discern with more certainty.

How To Train Your AI

Machine learning, the ability for computers to learn without being programmed, can take place a couple different ways. One way is supervised learning, where an AI model infers a function from labeled training data. Those images of animals I mentioned earlier would be labeled “dog,” “cat,” "hippopotamus,” etc. to help the AI learn. The other machine learning method is unsupervised learning. This is where machine learning draws inferences from data sets consisting of input data without labeled responses — you provide a bunch of pictures of animals with no descriptions and let the AI figure out what is and what is not a dog. Remember to, with either approach, provide organized data that your AI will learn from.

Going With Google

Google provides a lot of data sets and pre-trained AI models for purchase. But, they’re all about object recognition and will only do a good job of recognizing things that existed when the model was trained. So, a Google AI model may have learned what a bike and pogo stick are at some point, but a newer invention, like a Segway, could confuse it.

Beyond Cats And Dogs

I’ve led or been on some teams that have worked on training data for tasks other than image recognition, like classifying audio samples or, during an innovation session, recognizing what restaurant is delivering food by identifying food service workers and recognizing what was being delivered. The latter is an excellent example of what can happen when you train very specific models. In this application, the AI model learned from uniforms, not beverage cups, cars or even people. The data set provided in this case included shapes of what delivery drivers could be carrying and the clothes they wore.

The accuracy of your AI model is really about the bucket of data you give it. You need a lot of pictures, and they need to be of a similar quality. The more similar they are, the less training you likely need.

What Could Go Wrong?

Okay, our hypothetical AI is up and running. What is at stake if it’s wrong? Within your own organization, determine the impact of a false positive or false negative. AI that determines what is and isn’t email spam could afford to let some spam through but could create problems if it marks something important as spam. Imagine the consequences of AI providing results of x-rays with a false negative cancer diagnosis.

Now, if you feel more comfortable with how AI works, you can begin the challenging task of figuring out where it fits in your organization.

For information about Artificial Intelligence and Google Assistant, download our Google Assistant POV by filling out the form below.

Originally published on Forbes on Jan 8, 2018.

June 19, 2017

Top Takeaways from WWDC 2017 that Weren’t in the Keynote

While there were a lot of big announcements during this year’s WWDC Keynote, there were even more our Rocketeers learned during the sessions following it. Some of these barely made an appearance at the conference, but we think they’re some of the most exciting updates yet. If you are interested in learning more about these topics, you are also welcome to watch our webinar that aired Wednesday, June 14, 2017.  Click here to watch.

Business Chat Could Change Everything

Any business large enough to have a call center or customer support group should take note. Business Chat opens a support line directly in iMessages making it easier than ever help solve everyday customer problems with a tool that’s familiar to everyone. This interaction can begin from a button in an app, a link on your website, a CTA in an order confirmation email, or pretty much anywhere else you’d want to put it. Within the chat, you can share files, images, product images and/or videos, and much more. For example, let’s say a customer wanted to upgrade or change their seat on a flight – the airline could send them a layout of the seats available and can even charge for the upgrade through Apple Pay directly in iMessage. If you wanted to schedule a meeting, the details will be saved directly to the calendar.

Business Chat is available today and already integrates with LivePerson, Salesforce, Nuance, and Genesys.

CoreNFC Now Open to Developers

Near Field Communication (NFC) has been around for several years now, and the odds are good that you’ve used it and didn’t even know. NFC can be used for a wide range of applications, but to date it has primarily been used for mobile payment through apps such as Apple Pay. However, that may change very soon as Apple has officially opened the iPhone’s NFC functionality to developers. In true Apple style, they have taken every precaution to ensure user data remains secure. Each session must be initiated by the user and developers can only read, not write, data from an NFC tag. This means there will never be an accidental scan or possibility of someone pulling information from your phone. Brands will be able to leverage NFC for everything from presenting more information about a painting in a museum to adding items to an account in a hotel – but they will not be able to bill you directly from the interaction.

QR Reader Added to Default Camera App

In the United States, QR code sightings can be uncommon depending on where you live. In eastern markets, they are much more common. QR codes failed to reach widespread adoption in America because some didn’t know what to do with them and others didn’t see the value in downloading an app specifically for reading them. Now that Apple has integrated a QR reader into the default Camera app, that could change. However, western adoption of QR codes relies on content creators and advertisers just as much as, if not more than, users interacting with them. QR codes can be used for a wide range of applications such as sharing a playlist, opening a YouTube video, downloading an app, adding an item to a cart, and much more. The more interesting the experience, the more likely users are to give QR codes a try. To best leverage them, think guerilla marketing mixed with surprise and delight – people should feel as though they found something special rather than an advertisement, and where it takes them should almost be a reward.

CoreML Brings Machine Learning to the iPhone

The ways Google and Apple have approached artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are very different. One of the biggest differences is where the “magic” happens. Google’s approach is in the cloud while Apple’s is on-device. Processing the information on the iPhone itself not only provides a much faster experience but a much more private one. CoreML has three offerings at the moment, including Vision for image analysis, Foundation for language processing, and GameplayKit for NPC (non-player character) behavior, pathfinding, and more. While GameplayKit will mostly be used by game developers, Vision and Foundation can be used for a multitude of applications. For example, Vision can be used to recognize barcodes. You could use Vision to show more information about a product after a consumer scans the barcode or, with some training, teach Siri to recognize the product itself so that they can simply take a picture of the product to learn more.

Siri’s New Extensions

Three new extensions are now available to developers through SiriKit. For apps that allow you to make or check off items on a list, Siri can now be integrated into the app to allow users to take actions around those lists. The other two extensions, Points and Domains, can be leveraged for rewards and loyalty points. Points will allow users to ask Siri questions, such as “do I have enough points to book a flight to LA?” and Domains will allow users to scan visual codes such as loyalty points on a purchase to have them automatically added to your account in the app. With Siri’s new extensions, the customer experience in apps can be improved greatly as Siri makes it easier for consumers to keep track and add reward points to their accounts.

The App Store Gets an Overhaul

There are some big changes coming to the App Store. First off, Apple has completely redesigned the store and added several sections to improve the app discovery experience. There will be three primary sections to the store – Apps, Games, and Today. To make it even easier to decide if you want to download an app, Apple has also added the option for developers to upload up to three videos to showcase gameplay, features, and more in apps. What’s even more exciting is that Apple now allows developers to decide if they want to reset their reviews when uploading a new version of an app. Believe it or not, some developers would allow bugs to go unfixed for weeks if they had high ratings for their app to avoid having the ratings potentially drop. Now hotfixes are much less stressful for brands and developers as they can effectively push out several builds of an app and retain their ratings and reviews.

Check back for more updates as these new features and tools become available. In the meantime, please feel free to contact us with any other questions you may have.

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