Emotions and technology

Therapists for robots wanted

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Have you seen the latest marketing campaign of IBM Watson which was presented during the latest Oscar awards gala? If not, you should!  How close from now is a future when robots will need a therapist?

Intelligent automation and artificial intelligence capabilities present already on the market change our expectations from technology. It exceeds our assumptions how technology will interact with humans. Cognitive science connects information technology, natural language processing, psychology, and brain biology. Finally there are commercial solutions like IBM Watson which can learn by itself. Technology that can speak with understanding in natural languages is here. It is not just about speech – it is about computer – human conversation in natural language. The difference between voice recognition and natural language understanding methods are huge. There are many scientific projects mastering one of humans’ senses. Computers can kind of “read” what we write and try to understand this before they respond. We can read information provided by intelligent technology. Computer can also “hear” what we are saying, and try to understand it.

Technology can also recognise content of images. It is more cognitive computation into visual recognition algorithms. Product like Watson Visual Recognition  or a Stanford university project Image-Net are focused on self-learning solutions specialised in image recognition. Facebook deep face methods are focusing in face recognition allowing automatically recognizing humans on pictures and tagging people. Current algorithms are just as good, and sometimes even better then human brain capabilities in this area. But having conversation with a friend we know that sometime he/she doesn’t have to say a word, and we will get a lot of information just looking at a person, a body posture and a face. This is a nonverbal communication. Power of eyes in conjunction with brain is more than knowing an object. We can call much more. See a difference between a horse on a green grass and a metal horse sculpture is not o problem for 3-years old child. Maybe computers are better in listening, but a child will get in a sec if their mum is happy or said.

Fundamental of humans

Every day activities, our cognition and perception are influenced by emotions. AIl technologies master into perfection some of humans capabilities. It is not that easy to teach computers to recognise our emotions. Can computers be more emotionally intelligent? Is it possible to measure emotions? Affective Computing discipline combines computer science with neuroscience, sociology, education, psychology, ethics, and more. It pushes the boundaries of what can be achieved to improve human affective experience with technology. The Unseen fashion studio introduced a dress which changes its colours based to reflect an aura of a person. 8thsene_2_crop_ps_medium_21-576x814

It doesn’t recognise a brain state nor specific emotions. It is an interesting experiment showing potential of this discipline.

Learn about the future from kids

There is sentence “do you want to know a future? Ask kids about it”. In the “Home” movie there are aliens (Boov) that change colours based on their mental and emotional state. home_emotionsThey turn red when they’re angry, green when they lie, yellow when they’re scared, orange when they get excited or happy and pink when they feel love. Such a simple and visible for everybody. Recognition of their mood is as easy as this.

We are this point where we try to better understand how to recognise person emotions from many different sources of insights (body movement, face, brain, heart rate). This is first step. That knowledge can be used in many industries like healthcare, education, public safety, and can be applied in many areas of human life. The next step is to implement those findings into computing solutions. Another step is to teach technology to recognise emotions and their impact on humans’ behaviours. It will bring human – computer interactions into next level of digital experience. Be ready for affective era where technology will understand emotions, or maybe even feel something. And Leia together with IBM Watson, they will have more work than in commercials.

What drives Digital Transformation in today’s enterprises?

We are talking about transformation of a company from well known to unknown. What can drive that change?

There are 2 well known drivers that I am familiar with myself: passion and pain.

When we fall in love, we are able to transform, no matter what the rest of the world says to us.

Steve Jobs didn’t invent iPhone because there was a need on the market and customers felt a sudden need for a touch based media player with some phone capabilities. He fell in love with this idea no matter how crazy it seemed at the time. Do you remember how Nokia reacted to the first iPhone announcement?

I’ve transformed myself quite a few times during my life. After graduating high school I went into the university to study Hindi philology. Why? Because I wanted to hike in the Himalayas and it seemed to me that it was a major that would bring me closest to the Himalaya Mountains. I fell in love with the high mountains and that passion drove me to make choices, that  now I see as crazy decisions.

When people are in pain they are looking to change something as well, to change the circumstances, to change the unbearable feeling. There are many examples when pain is the powerful tool that drives the transformation.

The business in its usual form doesn’t prove to be too successful any more. We as IBM-ers realize this more than others – and it’s a painful knowledge. We need to undergo a change. We can be either disrupted or we can disrupt. Such companies like Spotify and Netflix changed our perception of media industry (music, television). Spotify offers music for free with advertisement from time to time, or without ads if we will pay small monthly fee.

To listen music in the old fashioned ways we can buy 1 CD that costs more than monthly fee on Spotify. Still we could only listen to CDs we already bought. Or we can watch music on payable TV channels but with advertisements. Than we have no choice what we’re listening to. Why should we spend more money on this?

Suggesting to Universal Music Group to share music for free 10 years ago seemed to be crazy idea. They would no listen to nobody.  And it is extremely painful time for music industry now. For small Swedish startup it was a passion for new ways of accessing music. The UMG was established in early years of XX century, and it is worth now after its more than hundred years about 8b $ comparing to the Spotify which was launched in late 2008 and has currently more than 50 mln users, with 4b $ value.

As consumers we would like to have a choice, an access. We don’t need ownership anymore. An access is enough as long as we have it when and where we want it. And it doesn’t mean that people want to have everything for free. Consumers are happy to pay for things that are valuable to them. The Netflix is another very good example of that trend.

There is no space for monopoly in the new digital economy. The global ecosystem is more and more interdependent.

New business models, based on API concept, need to be introduced. Some assumptions ought to be revised.

And it is usually better to feel a passion then a pain.

Onboarding Mobile Strategy – Mobile presence

Mobile presence as a part of mobile strategy

Mobile presence has its requirements and expectations in the digital world. Mobile presence applies to all possible ways in which the internet users can reach companies via their mobile devices. All different types of ways, including the web browser.
By not realizing these facts and standing up to this need, companies allow driving and creating some unknown and as a result, ineffective user experience.
Companies that haven’t yet had their mobile apps should be aware of the fact, that mobile presence relates to them just as well. Even if they only own and operate a web site.
However, remember: having just a web site also means being reachable from the mobile world and it is a step, a tiny one, but one we can consider a warm-up and not skipping a warm-up only does one good.It is good to think about the mobile presence and to implement it in the way we picture others interacting with us, the way we would want them to interact with us.

In this article, from the strategy point of view, I will elaborate on 2 major possibilities:

  • Mobile apps
  • APIs

Shakespeare once asked “to be or not to be?”. I am asking the question of today: “app or not to app?”. Should each and every company have a mobile app? Is it mandatory? Or perhaps it is better to decide which organization capabilities ought to have one, and which might still get away without it?
Mobile presence planning exercise starts with the analysis of end users. And we do have many types of them. Only to mention the clients, partners, potential clients and partners, employees, the anonymous internet users. The answer to the question of how we would like to interact with all these groups should have its reflection in the created upcoming mobile strategy.

An API is nothing new, it is in fact an old term. Facing the disruption of products, value chains and business models, companies start to use API in a new business model context. APIs are not about (new) technology. It is a new architectural approach around providing self service, the reusable interfaces. We can define many types of APIs: those created for B2B, for the internal use, for products or services, and those open for the anonymous internet user.

Gartner predicts that 75% of Fortune 500, which means that as many as three quarters of the top 500 public corporations of the US according to their gross revenue, will open an API by the year 2014. APIs are not just interfaces – they are new business channels to engage with partners, employees and customers. Not to provide information but to engage.

Spectrum of Mobile App Development Options

In general we have 3 choices for mobile apps development, which are: Pure Web, Hybrid, Pure Native.

Pure Web means just a mobile website reach using a browser. It could be a full site or an m-site built with HTML5, JS, and CSS3. The development of it is fast and fairly cheap, but it results in not very optimal user experience.
Pure native means an app which is adjusted ideally to the mobile device OS. Evaluated as the best possible user experience, but requires unique development effort per operating system. From the maintenance perspective, it is the most costly option.
For the Hybrid apps, there are mixture of approaches, beginning with the native shell, going through external m-site, then through pre-packages HTML5 resources, HTML5 with native user interface and finishing with mostly native app with some HTML5 multi platform screens. The option of html5 with native user interface gives an optimized user experience with native screens, controls and navigation.

What else would we find important for the mobile app development? Let’s look at a few important trends.

By introducing Watson, IBM opened some new opportunities to the market, simply showing that apps are able to think. The same machine that is capable of analyzing 40,000 medical journals in an hour is now accessible via smart phone. This is not just some IBM prediction or a humble wish. It is a global trend.
IBM has made the Watson API publicly available to developers worldwide. To bring about an example, The North Face incorporates Watson’s contextual analysis engine for its customers (as it was shown during IBM Impact conference in May 2014). Shoppers have the ability to ask The North Face kiosk software that is integrated with Watson their natural language questions. More apps will become more aware and more contextual in their interaction.

The importance of using the Second Screen is increasing. A recent study I found shows that “88% of U.S. consumers use mobile as a second screen while watching TV”. Marketers will likely bridge apps to interact with smart TVs. We can expect a notable rise in apps that provide immerse second screen experience.

The number of devices and sensors controlled via smartphone is on a considerable rise. Mobile devices become a main remote for the Internet of Things. Samsung has released a Wi-Fi equipped washing machine. We can now control various home appliances or start a car from a smartphone or a smart watch.

Strategic decision to make: To build or to buy?
To build or to buy is a big question that has no wrong answer to it. And we should ask it in case of app and API. As long as the resulting solution does not degrade ability to interact with users and their experience. The only concern should be the alignment to the rest of the mobile strategy, available resources and the total cost of the implementation. It is recommended to have a very precise strategy and standards when buying apps, to assure that they will be align with overall company’s architecture and will not impact interoperability in a negative way.

Mobile world is changing fast. It impacts the way we are doing business across industries. The right mobile presence strategy and standards will help spotting new opportunities, enhancing and optimizing the current efforts. Mobile presence is of extreme importance as it maneuvers the end user experience the most.

What is Digital Transformation? 

Digital Transformation – It is hard to define clearly a Digital Transformation, and attempting doing so, often results in exactly the opposite, misunderstanding of the term.

Digital transformation may sound like it’s something you’d hear in a buzzword bingo, but it is actually, one of the most important trends facing the economy today. Many things which use to work just fine in the past, simply don’t seem to be working any more.

Adopting digital technologies is not about replacing any of the existing systems with an upgrade, or building a new website or not even having a mobile app.

Digital transformation is the changes associated with digital technology and integration of this technology into ALL ASPECTS of our human life and society.

Adopting digital technologies into our lives needs to be seen as a change of culture.

People change their mindset and their behavior as we speak. The way industries are orgaznized has been changing as we speak. The way societies function has just as well been changing. Social media, channels, networks impact the ways people communicate and interaction undergoes through a constant change. It all results in forming a generation of new business models and new, and even more interdependent ecosystems.

Public access to the Internet changed the very way we use it , and then how we work, life, play. Internet of things, mobile and social technologies result in unexpected data growth, in new analytics requirements, and completely new business models.

The Internet became an AIR of digital times. We cannot work nor live without the connection to the internet.

And technology itself is like an OXYGEN. It is almost everywhere. And there will be more and more technology sourrunding our daily lives. We live in the era of internet of things and internet of body.

In such widely digitalized world, being OFFLINE becomes a LUXURY.

This is a time of Digital Darwinism, where technology and society are evolving faster than their ability to adapt does. With every single new device, new trend, new innovation, companies are presented with opportunities and challenges. It is not about changes but about a transformation into new, and often into unknown.

The world is smart, it’s connected and interdependent. We are defenitely not heading in the direction of a “simpler” time or to a slower, less connected world.