Tech report cards miss the mark

This week saw U.S. politicians flounder when it comes to technology, Microsoft allegedly forcing Windows 10 on unsuspecting users and robot concierges that you don’t have to tip. Read all about it in our tech roundup this week.

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Donald Trump has flunked ‘huuuuge’ on his campaign’s tech report card. As the election race heats up in the U.S., it looks as though all would-be presidents need to bone up on their technology.

Political strategy firm Task Ventures and tech policy organization Engine created a report card ranking candidates based on their support for key technology issues including encryption, high-skilled immigration reform and STEM education.

No one got an A, but Democrats scored highest. Hillary Clinton got a B+, while Bernie Sanders received a B. John Kasich and Marco Rubio scored a C+, while Ted Cruz got a D. And Trump? He failed on all points save for intellectual property, where he scored ‘incomplete.’ Since the report card came out, Rubio’s campaign has folded.

Microsoft forcing Windows 10 upgrades?

Politicians aren’t the only ones with blots on their copybooks this week. Microsoft has come under fire for forcibly upgrading people to Windows 10 without their consent. The complaints are piling up, according to Infoworld, which said that increasing numbers of Windows 7 and 8.1 customers are reporting drive-by upgrades from Redmond, executed without permission.

The senior Infoworld editor who wrote the report suffered the same problem, trying repeatedly to stop Windows from attempting an upgrade but finding a critical check-box in Windows Update re-selected each time. So what is Microsoft playing at? Something tells us this is one question Cortana won’t have an answer for.

Robot concierges loom large

Our robot overlords just inched a step closer thanks to Hilton Worldwide, which has plans to develop a concierge robot based on IBM’s Watson machine learning system. The robot, called Connie, will answer questions from guests about attractions, dining options and hotel services.

Piloting the use of robots for customer service seems to be catching on, according to the CBC, which reported on the Retail Collective Lab, a digital marketing and retail conference in Toronto. It detailed a retail-specific robot, called Pepper, which recognizes a customer’s face, age, gender and even emotional state in a bid to sell more stuff. Experts have called it “creepy.”

Best of expertIP

There haven’t been many developments in user interfaces over the past 20 years. The mouse and keyboard have been staple input techniques, and the monitor has been with us for decades. Only touch input has really pushed the needle forward. But virtual and augmented reality could be game changers in the next few years, according to a blog post by Jared Lindzon.

Deloitte’s annual Tech Trends report sees a bright future for these connected technologies in the workplace. VR has finally matured and several devices are launching this year, from the Oculus Rift to the HTC Vive and Sony’s Playstation VR.

The AR world — which superimposes computerized images over real-world ones — is also moving forward. The developer version of Microsoft’s HoloLens is now available, while competitors Meta and Magic Leap (which just raised US$793.5 million in new funding) are waiting in the wings.

Expect to see VR and AR devices making their way into collaboration and training scenarios in the workplace, says Deloitte, along with field or customer service applications that allow workers to see task-specific information in context and on demand. They will also make their way into customer experience and interactive marketing applications.

This promises to be the year of VR and AR. No wonder gaming veterans started a US$50 million virtual reality and augmented reality venture fund this week.

Image courtesy of Free Digital Photos

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