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LG unveils their smart fridge, now complete with Amazon’s Alexa assistant

(TECH NEWS) Every year at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), companies unveil the latest and greatest new technological innovations. LG gave us quite more than what we bargained for.

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LG Alexa internet of things

LG if on fire, so lit

Every year at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), companies unveil the latest and greatest new technological innovations. For lack of any better ideas, some companies are simply taking their regular products and outfitting them with Internet connectivity. Because heaven forbid that we be disconnected from wifi for even a second.

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In the kitchen, for example. Sure, you could plop your smartphone or tablet on your kitchen counter and Snapchat, Facetime, and look up recipes to your heart’s content while stirring your sauce or downing some Ben & Jerry’s.

But LG wants to relieve you of the strain of having to move your device from one room to the next by connecting your refrigerator to the Internet, and better yet, to Amazon Alexa.

The fridge of the future

Last year, LG debuted a refrigerator with a door that would become translucent if you knocked on it, allowing you to see the contents of your refrigerator while bypassing the arduous task of opening the door. Their newest product, the Smart Instaview Refrigerator, which was unveiled yesterday at CES in Las Vegas, takes these “conveniences” even further by fitting the door with a 29” LCD touchscreen that functions much like a tablet.

On the screen, you can leave notes for your roommates or family (because who has a paper and pen anymore?), play music, or pull up recipes. You can tag food items with their expiration dates and receive a notification when they are about to spoil. The ‘fridge will even remind you of appointments and birthdays.

And because there aren’t enough cameras in the world, the Smart Instaview comes with an internal, panoramic camera that you can view remotely, for example, while you’re at the grocery store, to check and see if you’ve forgotten any items on your shopping list or need to replenish the milk.

But why bother going to the grocery store, when you can simply bark commands at Alexa, who will order them for you (from Amazon.com, of course)?

A data free-for-all

There’s no price tag for the Instaview yet, nor any indication of the security features, whether or not the  refrigerator will show you ads, or whether or not the company will let law enforcement agencies take a peek into your kitchen.

Despite theses concerns, LG’s marketing VP David VanderWaal announced at the company’s CES press conference that “starting this year” they would enable “advanced wifi connectivity” on all – that’s right, all – of their appliances. Why miss an opportunity to collect more customer data? And in exchange for having LG’s eyes in your kitchen, you’ll be spared the chilly discomfort of standing in front of the open door of your icebox.

#SmartFridge

Ellen Vessels, a Staff Writer at The American Genius, is respected for their wide range of work, with a focus on generational marketing and business trends. Ellen is also a performance artist when not writing, and has a passion for sustainability, social justice, and the arts.

Real Estate Technology

How Cloudflare’s web analytics could give Google’s tools a run for their money

(REAL ESTATE TECH NEWS) In a world where data is king, Cloudflare’s web analytics value user privacy, staking them as pioneers against other analytic tools.

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Web analytics open on a desktop screen on a table.

When it comes to web analytics tools, users are examining comprehensiveness, usability, and price point. Free analytics tools typically come at a price, which is more often than not the data privacy of your customers.

A new competitor for Fathom Analytics, Simple Analytics, and even Google Analytics is Cloudflare’s web analytics tool. Not only is it free but, unlike the competitors, it will not keep visitor’s data and it will not be able to track conversions, making it the perfect tool for small websites, personal pages, and blogs. Sounds great, right?

In their blog, Cloudflare states: “At Cloudflare, our mission is to help build a better Internet, and part of that is to deliver essential web analytics to everyone with a website, without compromising user privacy. For free. We’ve never been interested in tracking users or selling advertising. We don’t want to know what you do on the Internet — it’s not our business.”

Additionally, Cloudflare doesn’t track users using their IP address, User Agent string, or other attributes. They are truly committed to providing metrics without intruding.

Valuing user privacy makes Cloudflare an industry pioneer. And the best part is, you don’t have to be a Cloudflare subscriber to access this feature.

From the blog: “Today, for the first time, anyone can get access to our client-side analytics — even if you don’t use the rest of Cloudflare. Just add our JavaScript snippet to any website, and we can start collecting metrics.”

What’s next for Cloudflare?

Well to start, they are working on integrating their analytics tool with the rest of the Cloudflare tech. This would mean that customers would receive more stats regarding site performance and security, in addition to traffic stats.

They’re also hoping to develop their analytics tool so that it can be a powerful singular product, with support for alerts and updates in real time.

If you’re someone who wants metrics and values privacy (and free things!), keep your eyes on Cloudflare’s analytics tool. I’m excited to see how far they will take a zero-cost, privacy-first product in a world where data is the hottest commodity.

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Real Estate Technology

Should digital assistants have empathy? Big investors say yes

(REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY) Bonding with your digital assistant might be more likely than you expect with ElliQ. The rising numbers of AI assistants have created unique interactions.

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ElliQ assistant

It sounds crazy to think that you could form an actual bond with something like Siri or Alexa, but actually, humans are pretty dang good at forming emotional connections to machines. For instance, a Canadian company threw an entire retirement party for five mail delivery bots. People will use Roombas as a substitute for companionship, not unlike a cat or dog. Humans just seem to enjoy connection – even if it’s with a lifeless robot.

Intuition Robotics is taking this desire for emotional connection a step further by working to create digital assistants that can more easily bond with their human companions. At the moment, their biggest product is ElliQ, a robotic digital assistant designed to bond with eldery users. In fact, according to Intuition Robotics, their average demographic falls between ages 78 – 97.

And ElliQ seems to be doing its job. The company reports that customers interact with ElliQ regularly throughout the day, even holding conversations with the machine, and are more likely to listen to ElliQ’s suggestions, which often include proactive behavior like getting outdoors or eating more vegetables.

By working to create a more empathetic and emotional digital AI, Intuition Robotics has started to discover a whole world of new possibilities. And they’re just getting started, having recently raised another $36 million to continue research.

One of their plans? Combining these empathetic digital assistants with the automotive industry.

Imagine an assistant that could suggest you pull over when it senses you’re getting drowsy, or provide something to talk to during longer drives. Plus, unlike ElliQ, which stays put while you move around, you and the assistant will be together in a car, making it easier for the AI to learn your preferences and habits.

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg for Intuition Robotics, which has recently majorly expanded its workforce. A digital assistant that can provide a better emotional connection to humans has a world of possible applications, from nursing homes to elementary schools.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of reasons to be worried about a more empathetic AI – the marketing capabilities alone are something I’m side-eyeing. That said, humans have been befriending vacuum cleaners and we’ve turned out alright, so for now, let’s focus on the positive possibilities that could come with tech from companies like Intuition Robotics.

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Real Estate Technology

How to spot cyberbullying, sexual harassment within a remote team

(REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY) With more people working remotely, cyberbullying may rear its ugly head. Here’s what to look out for and how to handle the problem.

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Cyberbullying doesn’t occur only between children. Adults are often the perpetrators. A study published in 2017 found that 80% of the respondents had been a victim of cyberbullying in the previous 6 months. Many other studies have confirmed that cyberbullying is a problem in the workplace.

Suzanne Lucas, EvilHRLady.org, reminds us that cyberbullying and sexual harassment can still be a problem when we’re working at home. Don’t think because your staff isn’t within physical proximation of each other that they are all suddenly angels. Employers should be on alert for bad behavior through remote channels.

What is cyberbullying?

Bullying behavior presents itself in many forms, from sarcasm, the invisible treatment, deliberate sabotage and physical assault. Cyberbullying occurs when these behaviors are done over electronic devices.

A cyberbully might purposefully delete a person from an email list, then follow up with that person. Sext messages sent between employees. “Accidentally on purpose” not wearing pants during a video-conference, then getting up so that everyone can see you. Trolling a colleague’s social media to post mean or destructive comments. One of the biggest problems with bullying is that it can be difficult to recognize, because it takes so many different forms.

Sometimes, it can be difficult to know whether it was a one-time slip-up or a deliberate action. Generally speaking, if it’s a pattern of behavior, it’s bullying.

Steps to take to reduce the risk of cyberbullying

Lucas recommends that employers take complaints of cyberbullying seriously. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, employers could be held responsible for employees who cyberbully. Employers have a legal responsibility to address cyberbullying.

Lucus suggests:

  • A dress code for video-conferencing to prevent “accidental” excuses.
  • A reminder to everyone that their camera is on when using video.
  • Don’t make employees leave their camera on when working at home unless in a conference.
  • Have permissions set high to prevent camera-sharing.

Employees may need to be reminded of what is acceptable and what isn’t. If your organization doesn’t have policies in place about responding to bullying, you need to get on the ball. While people are working from home, it can be good to have a training on recognizing bullying behavior, on- or off-line.

COVID-19 has disrupted everyone’s life, but it can’t be used to excuse bad behavior. You can’t wait until things get back to normal before dealing with complaints of harassment.

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