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KFC is training employees to cook with VR – what a time to be alive

(TECH NEWS) In an unprecedented move, the popular fried chicken chain KFC will begin to teach employees to cook using virtual reality googles.

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In an unlikely place

The fast-food industry isn’t one in which you’d expect to find virtual reality, yet that’s exactly what Kentucky Fried Chicken is rolling out in the coming months. The goal?

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To better train employees on how to cook without squandering resources.

Cooking in VR

The virtual reality program that KFC is currently using teaches employees how to review the chicken for blemishes, rinse the acceptable pieces, dry, bread, and rack the rinsed pieces, and then pressure-fry them—all within about 10 minutes.

The program’s runtime is around 15 minutes faster than the actual process of frying chicken, but KFC doesn’t seem too concerned with accuracy for accuracy’s sake; the program itself is merely intended to walk employees through the steps while burning neither chicken nor daylight.

Return on Investment

Regardless of how widespread the VR training notion travels, it represents a huge step forward for any company with a decent budget and disposable merchandise. Rather than pushing training employees to cycle through inventory while discarding their mistakes, VR presents the opportunity to mess up free of consequence.

Of course, one might reasonably argue that cooking is less cut-and-dry than a VR program might make it appear, but VR training will undoubtedly continue to evolve to represent increasingly complicated workplace challenges, both for the culinary world and for supported industries in general.

Reportedly, KFC will be using the Oculus Rift headset in conjunction with the training program. While perhaps not the most sustainable model as of now—especially if small businesses decide to emulate this training—as VR continues to become more normalized, prices will most likely drop to reflect the change.

Just a Stunt?

As it sits, only five VR sets are currently in use, but KFC is hoping to expand that number in the future to further supplement the existing cooking program.

Of course, there is always the possibility that KFC’s VR announcement is merely a play for publicity. KFC is notorious for goofy and unreasonably complicated technology implementation in their marketing campaigns. Only time will tell how far KFC’s virtual reality plan goes, or how many other companies jump aboard the VR training train.

#KFCVR

Jack Lloyd has a BA in Creative Writing from Forest Grove’s Pacific University; he spends his writing days using his degree to pursue semicolons, freelance writing and editing, oxford commas, and enough coffee to kill a bear. His infatuation with rain is matched only by his dry sense of humor.

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How to buy Internet of Things gifts this year with security in mind

(TECHNOLOGY) Internet of Things devices are neat, but they also pose a significant security risk if not properly implemented. Here’s how to buy IoT gifts that won’t ruin your friend’s Xbox Live.

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As smart technology becomes more and more relevant, the issue of cybersecurity increases in pertinence as well. If you plan on picking up smart home (Internet of Things) gifts for your family and friends this year, Next Advisor offers a few security tips to keep in mind:

Firstly, the difference between “always on” items and selectively on appliances is huge, as smart home “always on” items pose a much more significant security risk than a device that can be disabled with the press of a button. Things like smart lights, thermostats, speakers, and so on—while popular—are best left to your recipient’s discretion.

This is because “always on” (also known as “Internet of Things”, or IoT) devices are often ill-suited to the degree of connectivity that they must sustain. Due to security shortcuts or weak coding, it’s relatively easy for an attacker to use your Internet-connected refrigerator or thermostat to take down your whole network. As such, traditional devices that can be enabled and disabled at will have a distinct security edge in this area.

When in doubt, go the gift card route; that way, your intended recipient will be able to purchase whatever smart item they want without you having to worry about compromising their safety.

If you do decide to buy Internet of Things gifts this year, it’s important to invest in strong, secure options. The easiest way to ensure that the device that you’re buying is sufficient is by looking at the manufacturer: was the device produced by Google, Intel, Apple, or another household tech name, or are you considering a company that you’ve never heard of?

A less security-based issue lies in the quality of the products, as third-party devices tend to fail faster and achieve less support than ones from large tech companies. When in doubt, go with the devil you know.

The other main thing to keep in mind is the face security of the item itself.

If the IoT item has a password and regular update support, it’s a much more secure item than any device lacking either of those features (to say nothing of both). Make sure that you know the answers to these questions before investing in any IoT device this holiday season, or just avoid them altogether.

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Chatbot recruits qualified candidates, schedules interviews

(TECH NEWS) No chatbot can replace humans, but like this one, there is great potential to streamline paper pushing.

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When I was younger, the coolest technology at the time was AOL Instant Messenger (AIM). Us teens and tweens would sit at our desk tops for hours, having pointless conversations with the same people we had seen all day long at school.

Every once in a while, the stars would un-align and there would be no buddies to talk to. This is when we would get desperate and strike up a conversation with SmarterChild, an AIM chatbot.

For us millennials, this was our first introduction to a chatbot, which is now a concept that has taken on a (virtual) life of its own. They now exist on many different websites, particularly ones with customer service, and are designed to have, basically, all of the answers.

Now as we get ready to jump into 2018, we see that this technology has advanced enough to the point where there are chatbots that serve as pre-recruiting tools for employers. One of these chatbots can be found on Applyr.

“Applyr is designed to be the most human recruitment tool. Our recruiter chatbots ‘sit’ on a company’s careers page and engage with, pre-select, and schedule interviews with candidates,” according to developers.

“This represents a radical improvement in the candidate experience, whilst saving the hiring company and the recruiter huge amounts of time. The more interactions Applyr chatbots engage in, the more our platform learns from the data it measures. Which further serves to improve recruiting processes.”

These recruiter chatbots are designed to help employers weed through candidates without consuming their precious time. The bots are customizable and scalable solution to your recruitment overload. Applyr states that they bring the power of Artificial Intelligence to the top of your recruitment funnel.

It is a fully comprehensive solution for global recruitment teams that includes: ATS integration, low-risk and GDPR compliance, security and confidentiality, international and multilingual capabilities, simple integration, and equal opportunities.

Applyr chatbots find qualified candidates through use of the AI-powered software. It then auto schedules the first interview and provides detailed analytics.

This way, more time can be spent on the interview itself and less time on arranging it. Applyr is no replacement for a human, but it can certainly speed up the process of getting to the best candidate.

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The new best time of day to post on Facebook

(TECHNOLOGY) There has long been a “universal” sweet spot for when to post on Facebook, so what is it now?

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The best time to post on Facebook is a hotly contested topic, with some experts claiming to have the end-all-be-all answer while others admit that it isn’t an exact science.

While the best time to post for your demographic will ultimately depend on that demographic’s habits, regional location, and more, AI machine learning may ultimately provide the answer that you’ve been looking for.

To assume that there’s a universal “best time” to post on Facebook is a bit contrived, given the dynamic nature of people and their various nuances; however, there is almost certainly a best time for you to post to your followers. This time will depend on a myriad of different factors, which is why you shouldn’t have to calculate it yourself.

There are plenty of social media analysis tools available, one of the popular options is Socialbakers which offers a comprehensive suite that you can try for 14 days to see if it even works for you. The idea is that the suite will analyze your posts’ traffic, giving you a day-by-day report on when is the best time for you to post to your audience.

This dynamic approach allows you to target specifically the most active section of your audience without having to guess or account for outliers (e.g., holidays) by giving you an exact (often down to the minute) time at which your posts should go out for your selected day. The suite also learns as it is used, meaning that your posting hours will only improve in accuracy with time.

While experts are still throwing out best posting time estimates like between 1:00 and 4:00 on weekdays, the fact remains that the optimal posting solution for you most likely doesn’t always fall during this vanilla time frame—and even if it does, the exact time will always net more views and engagement than tossing a post into the void of the Internet during a three-hour window.

The bottom line is this: your social media game may be fine, but knowing the exact time of day on which to post – a luxury afforded only by an AI suite – is the only way to post reliably during your audience’s sweet spot.

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