Connecting with and understanding your customers is important in keeping your business thriving. So, to help streamline that communication, Google is adding business messaging options to the Google Maps app and Google Search.
To start using this, your business will first need to be verified by Google. If you haven’t verified your business yet, you can get more information on how to do so here. If you’re already verified, you simply need to turn messaging on from your Business Profile.
Once it’s on, customers will see a “Message” button on your Business Profile, and they will be able to message you at any time. From the business messages section in the “Updates” tab on Google Maps, you can start replying to customers. Also, via the Customers menu on your Business Profile, you’ll soon be able to see your messages straight from Google Search.
Google said, “When people look for information online, they want to find the answers to their questions quickly. This is especially true for people browsing nearby businesses. Business Profiles help merchants share information like how late you’re open and what safety measures are in place. But sometimes people are looking for answers to more niche questions such as: ‘Do you make gluten-free cakes?’ or ‘Is there covered parking?’”
To help make it easier for customers to ask their questions, Google isn’t making customers head back to your Business Profile to click the “Message” button every time they have a question. In addition to that button, customers can initiate a conversation with your business on any post you’ve created. Also, when a customer’s call goes unanswered, they will be prompted to send you a message.
And, besides making communication easier, Google will soon be “rolling out more metrics to give you a deeper understanding of how customers discover your Business Profile.” You’ll be able to see Insights on what queries customers used to find your business. You’ll be able to tell whether they saw your business on Google Maps or Search, and if it was on a computer or mobile device.
“We’ve continued to invest in new ways to make it easier for you to bolster your presence on Google. With these updated features, we hope you have more of the tools and information you need to connect with customers and grow your business in today’s ever-changing environment,“ Google said.
Easing the pain between business and customer is always a plus. What do you think about Google’s new messaging options?
Use AI to automatically transcribe your Google Meet meetings
(TECH NEWS) This Google Chrome extension uses artificial intelligence to automatically transcribe and log notes from your Google Meet and video meetings.
A new Google Chrome extension helps eliminate the pains of transcribing your Google Meet video meetings, interviews, and lectures. Otter.ai makes note-taking easy by transcribing and captioning all your chats in real-time and lets you save and share the transcripts with participants.
The AI-powered assistant differs from other transcription services because its AI model was built from the ground up to specifically handle long-form, multi-speaker, and complicated meeting situations.
“Meetings usually run long, could be 30 minutes, 60 minutes, and people interrupt each other all the time. People may speak a little faster or a little slower. They may pause and hesitate and restart and suddenly change topic,” said Otter.ai CEO and Co-founder Sam Liang in an interview on the NVIDIA AI podcast.
“All of these make taking notes for meetings way more complicated. So, that’s why we build AI technologies to optimize note-taking for meetings,” he continued.
Since Otter uses Ambient Voice Intelligence, it can recognize voices and even learn new terminology. With the tool, you can find what you need quickly. By using a summary keyword, you can see where that word appears in all instances. You can also speed up the playback or skim through long recordings.
Besides Google Meet, Otter works on iOS, Android, and Zoom. And, it’s available in all the company’s different pricing plans. With a free plan, you get 600 minutes of transcribing with each recording having a maximum length of 40 minutes.
Paid plans offer more recording time and length maximums. They give you additional features like the ability to import audio and video, advanced export and search functions, and the capability to be used during live events.
The cross-platform product can be used anywhere, which means you can use the AI transcribing assistant on your phone. So, if you’re a student or journalist trying to record an interview, you can use the mobile app to record the conversation. In the app’s dashboard, you can view all your recorded transcriptions and those shared with you.
The company’s target market is the business and enterprise meeting market, and people are definitely using it. “Today with remote work and distributed workforce, most of the meetings are happening on Zoom or Webex or Microsoft Teams. So, people are finding Otter really useful to improve their collaboration remotely,” said Liang.
Otter is simple enough to use. All you do is go to the Google Web Store to install the extension. You tap the Otter icon to open it and login or sign up for an account. Once you’re logged on, you just tap the Record button to begin recording. Then, the extension will do all the hard work for you.
Microsoft’s latest HUGE investment: Self-driving car technologies
(TECH NEWS) Microsoft invests in self-driving car technology by joining other investors in a combined equity investment of $2 billion.
Microsoft has put its money into self-driving car technology. The tech giant has partnered with General Motors and Cruise, GM’s majority-owned driverless car startup, to “accelerate the
commercialization of self-driving vehicles.”
“Our mission to bring safer, better, and more affordable transportation to everyone isn’t just a tech race – it’s also a trust race,” said Cruise CEO Dan Ammann in a press release. “Microsoft, as the gold standard in the trustworthy democratization of technology, will be a force multiplier for us as we commercialize our fleet of self-driving, all-electric, shared vehicles.”
Along with Honda and other institutional investors, the companies are investing a combined $2 billion into the autonomous car company. This new funding round brings Cruise to a post-money valuation of $30 billion.
The long-term strategic partnership between the companies will be a collaborative one and beneficial for both. To roll out its fleet of self-driving vehicles, Cruise will leverage Microsoft’s cloud and edge computing platform, Azure.
In turn, as GM’s and Cruise’s preferred cloud provider, Microsoft will use the car company’s “industry expertise to enhance its customer-driven product innovation and serve transportation companies across the globe through continued investment in Azure.”
Besides helping bring the self-driving technology out to the market quicker, the companies will also work together on other digitization initiatives. For instance, they will collaborate on artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities. And, explore opportunities to streamline operations and increase productivity.
“Advances in digital technology are redefining every aspect of our work and life, including how we move people and goods,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. “As Cruise and GM’s preferred
cloud, we will apply the power of Azure to help them scale and make autonomous transportation mainstream.”
“Microsoft is a great addition to the team as we drive toward a future world of zero crashes, zero emissions, and zero congestion,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “Microsoft will help us accelerate the commercialization of Cruise’s all-electric, self-driving vehicles and help GM realize even more benefits from cloud computing as we launch 30 new electric vehicles globally by 2025 and create new businesses and services to drive growth.”
Wow! This synthetic cornea gave a legally blind man his vision back!
(TECH NEWS) Another instance of “technology is amazing:” this minimally invasive eye implant has opened new doors for sight restoration surgeries for the legally blind.
After being the first patient to receive a cutting-edge cornea implant, a legally blind 78-year-old man can see again. Directly after his surgery, the patient was able to recognize his family members and read an eye chart. The KPro implant comes from the company CorNeat.
KPro is the first implant that can be directly integrated into the eye wall, replacing damaged or deformed corneas with no donor tissue. The clear layer that protects the front portion of the eye is called the corona. The corona is susceptible to degeneration or scarring, as well as a number of diseases such as keratopathy, keratoconus and pseudophakia bullous.
While artificial cornea implants already exist, the surgeries are complex and typically only used as a last resort when transplants or cornea ring implants don’t work. That is perhaps what makes the CorNeat transplants so remarkable – it’s a simple procedure that’s minimally invasive.
Additionally, KPro uses a biomimetic material that “stimulates cellular proliferation, leading to progressive tissue integration”. Not only can these implants give you your sight back instantly, but they also can help the natural tissue in your eyes to grow back and integrate. Now, THIS is cool stuff.
CorNeat said that ten more patients in Israel are approved for trials, as well as two in Canada. Six others are in the approval process in France, U.S., and the Netherlands. Professor Irit Bahar of CorNeat stated that he believes this project will ultimately impact millions of people’s lives. Only time will tell.
This advancement in biotech comes at a time where many Americans are uninsured and at a higher risk for health ailments due to the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent effects. At its best, CorNeat’s KPro offers some hope – while COVID has brought many industries to their knees, advancements in medical technology seem to persist.
If the results of the implants continue to stay as promising as they are now, who knows – maybe we’ll all be receiving cornea implants as a normal part of health upkeep in the not-so-distant future. I know I’ll be first in line.
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