AR Shopping Apps to Help You Avoid Buyer’s Remorse

“We’ve all become accustomed to online shopping, but it has its limits. Every full shopping cart comes with it the risk of a letdown when your order arrives. The color, the size, the look, any number of things could be off and require the most dreaded of tasks: returning through the mail.

Enter augmented reality. With the help of developer tools like Apple’s ARKit to Google’s ARCore, apps are becoming more immersive. It’s slightly surreal to see pieces of furniture popping in and out of your living room or different shades of lipstick showing up on your lips. Check out some of our favorite AR-enhanced apps below.”

Can we trust tech giants with our faces? Google, Amazon and Microsoft can’t agree on how to protect us


“A top Google executive recently sent a shot across the bow of its competitors regarding face surveillance. Kent Walker, the company’s general counsel and senior vice president of global affairs, made it clear that Google — unlike Amazon and Microsoft — will not sell a face recognition product until the technology’s potential for abuse is addressed.


Amazon’s statements and actions provide a stark contrast with Google’s approach. While Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos acknowledged his company’s products might be put to “bad uses,” he said the solution was to wait for society’s eventual “immune response” to take care of the problems. This is a shocking abdication of responsibility, not to mention a convenient blindness to the “response” that Rekognition has already engendered.


In a blog post, Microsoft President Brad Smith correctly identifies the threats the technology poses to privacy, free speech and other human rights, observing that today’s technology makes a surveillance state possible.

But then, after outlining those grave threats to democracy, Smith proposes relying on inadequate safeguards that have failed in the past with technologies far less dangerous than face surveillance. He expresses excessive faith in notifying people of face surveillance systems — but what good is that in a world where face recognition is so widespread that nobody can opt out?”

Amazon sets conference on robotics, artificial intelligence

“The re:MARS conference in Las Vegas will include “visionary talks, interactive workshops, technical deep dives, roundtables, hands-on demos, and more,” an Amazon statement said.

The conference called Machine learning, Automation, Robotics and Space on June 4-7 grew out of a private, invite-only event hosted by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in recent years.

“We’re at the beginning of a golden age of AI,” Bezos said in the statement.”

A New York City lawmaker is taking on companies that mine your face -FastCompany

[Photo: Randallbritten/Wikimedia Commons]

  • “Amazon has lately courted controversy with its Rekognition service, a facial scanning software used by law enforcement agencies like ICE, as well as many of its other cloud customers. Facebook is well known for its facial recognition algorithm, allowing the company to identify users and target ads at them accordingly.
  • Last month, Microsoft’s president called for rules around face recognition, while Google said it would not yet sell facial recognition services for the time being, given the ongoing privacy and ethical concerns.
  • In March, the same month that the Times described MSG’s technology, the ACLU asked 20 of America’s top retailers if they used facial recognition on their customers.
  • All but two of the companies refused to confirm or deny. One company, Ahold Delhaize–a brand that owns supermarkets Food Lion, Stop & Shop, Giant, and Hannaford–responded they did not use face recognition, while the hardware company Lowes said it does use face recognition technology to identify shoplifters.
  • “Since there is no regulation, since there is not even the most basic standards of transparency, we don’t know how widespread the use of facial recognition technology is in New York City or elsewhere in the country–we just don’t know,” he says. ‘Businesses are under no obligation to report on the use of facial recognition technology. I think that is part of the purpose of the bill: to shed light on a world of biometric technology that has historically been hidden from public view.'”

Follow the leaders: Machine learning and AI in the retail sector

“So where should retailers start? The initiative needs to come from the top, Choudhary said.

“C-suite executives need to be front and centre when driving AI projects for their organisations. They need to have a vision and plan for enterprise-wide AI strategies before they begin to be implemented,” he said.

Evanna Kearins, VP global field marketing at DataStax, agreed.

“It tends to be the CEO or COO that makes this happen. They are the ones that have to meet their targets, and they have to be able to demonstrate how they will compete with the global e-commerce players out there.”

While AI may garner the most attention at the consumer end, the efforts most likely to get signed off are those with the greatest RoI, which will generally be about automating back-end systems and business processes. These will also be among the most complex to deliver.”

ai – A day in my life

How many times will I interact with ai today?

This is a question that has been on my mind, but I haven’t had the time to monitor, document and track the interactions. So, yesterday December 29th, was my opportunity. It was Saturday, in the midst of the New Year holiday weekend. The kids would be with Grandma for the majority of the day, and my wife had plans filled with errands and a nap.

So here we go…

Saturday 12/29

  • Woke up, grabbed coffee and turned on my Amazon Fire TV with Netflix and shows recommended for me. Usually it’s spot-on but my wife has been using my account so I have the “The Great British Baking Show” and “Windsor” 🙂

  • Opened FlipBoard to check for new stories and read the section “For You” including articles on unplugging, exercise tips, AI, sports and investing. These are well targeted. There are usually more stories on hiking, camping and backpacking but I’ve been more focused on ai in recent weeks.

  • I loaded a couple of Amazon gift cards from the holiday into my account and checked out deals recommended for me. There’s one that interesting….a Yeti cooler lock. Don’t judge 🙂 it seems like an odd product but those coolers aren’t cheap, and I don’t want someone to throw mine in their truck while we’re away from our tent hiking.

  • It’s interesting though, even Amazon has plenty of room for improvement in their ai image recognition. Example, I was shopping at Academy (local sporting goods store) a couple days after Christmas and wanted to see if Amazon had a better deal on the lock. So, I opened the Amazon app, clicked on the “search by image” tool, and it failed to correctly identify the image below in my hand as the very same product displayed in a slightly different product images (see below).

  • Meanwhile my wife was doing the grocery shopping online. She selected an avocado and promptly received recommendations for peppers and tomatillos. I now have her helping with the experiment.

  • Next, I’m sitting in my recliner and the house feels chilly today so I decided to check the temperature…brrrrr…it has dipped down into the 40’s – that’s cold for Texas!!

  • While in the app I receive an advertisement for a Google Home mini. Unfortunately, I already have the large Google home device. Note: It’s an ok device but I just don’t use that often. It was frequently “turning on” unprompted and disrupting work related phone calls. It now has a semi-permanent home in the hall closet.
  • Back to the temperature…what I need, and have been watching prices for, is a Nest thermostat. I was really surprised over the holiday. I checked the price nearly every day from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday and the Nest was never discounted…at least never more than a few pennies. So it remains on my wish list…sigh.

  • While watching the Peach Bowl (Michigan 10 v. Florida 13 at the half) I decided to send a thank you note to my brother for the Christmas gift cards. Gmail now uses ai to help predict what you’re writing and offers quick and easy auto-fill.

  • Time to check Facebook to see what friends and family are up to this weekend. The result…memories, updates and targeted offers…delivered by ai.

  • I’m still watching the Peach Bowl, but not really concerned with the outcome since I’m an alum of Purdue and Butler. However, will someone PLEASE develop an ai system that replaces referees/officials/umpires. There were TWO officials standing on top of this play and completely missed the call.

  • Grandma and the kids just arrived from Austin where they used Google maps to navigate, and my wife just returned from HEB – the local grocery store. Both had to use GPS since we’re at the lake on vacation for the holiday.

  • We’re a bit of a sports family so this is our setup for the afternoon: Purdue Basketball, Butler Basketball and Cotton Bowl powered by 3 Amazon Fire enabled TVs. I’m confident all of this is being captured and added to my profile in Amazon’s version of “the graph” to power further ai based recommendations.

  • Throughout the course of the day I witnessed my kids on: Snapchat, YouTube and Instagram…all of which are powered by ai for content, personalization and recommendations.

  • This evening I posted about a new publication titled “HBRs 10 Must Reads – On AI, Analytics, and the New Machine Age. Amazon says that the hard-back and paper-back versions won’t be available until Feb 12th, but I was able to download the digital version to my kindle app within minutes.
  • I’ve only read the first two chapters: 1) Artificial Intelligence for the Real World and 2) Stitch Fix’s CEO on Selling Personal Style to the Mass Market. The total purchase price was $44.83 and I already believe it was money well spent.

  • I’m a little disappointed. I was hoping to fly our drone today, but we didn’t get it charged up in time. It was a gift to kids last Christmas, but the newness has warn off so I’m quasi taking it over. It is simply AMAZING and chalk full of ai. From the way it self-balances for hovering, self-lands to prevent crashes and follows you based on GPS. The technology is impressive, especially when you consider it’s built into an affordable “toy”.

  • Well, it has been a fun-filled day and time to turn-in for the night. As I set the alarm I wonder what ai is built into the monitoring and detection capabilities.

So that’s it…or is it? What else may have been impacting my life without even realizing the fact.

  • Has my electric company begun using ai to monitor and deliver power?
  • Did my bank utilize ai to protect my accounts while I was watching basketball?
  • Is the US post office utilizing ai that resulted in the delivery of my mail or packages?

Night all…

2018 in Review – Ana Păstrăvanu of

One of the best aspects of transitioning to a new calendar is the year-in-review pieces written by popular technology blogs and publications. This morning I discovered a post written by Ana Păstrăvanu of

Here are just a few of the key take-always. Check out the post for full details.

  • In Pakistan ecommerce was expected to surpass USD 1 billion in 2018, propelled by the increase in broadband penetration and the rise in the number of online payment merchants.
  • In India, ecommerce sales reached USD 32.70 billion (an increase of 31% compared to 2017), with growth being driven by Amazon, Flipkart, and Paytm Mall.
  • In January, Amazon opened Amazon Go, an automated and checkout-free grocery store in Seattle.
  • Walmart’s take on cashier-less checkout, Scan&Go, started being tested in stores in the US.
  • A study released by Juniper Research found that global retailers’ spending on AI would reach USD 7.3 billion per annum by 2022.
  • Flipkart acquired, an India-based AI-led speech recognition software startup, while Walmart partnered with Microsoft for a wider use of cloud and AI technology.
  • In August, Visa has created a new category of payment aggregator, the marketplace, and updated the requirements that have to be met in order to qualify as a marketplace under Visa’s rules.
  • 2018 marked the world’s biggest purchase of an ecommerce company, the acquisition of Flipkart by Walmart, in May, for USD 16 billion.
  • Another important announcement regarded Adobe’s intention of acquiring Magento Commerce from private equity company Permira for USD 1.68 billion.
  • Another important investment in 2018 is marked by Alibaba, which increased its control of Lazada, investing USD 2 billion into the business.

Amazon’s Cloud arm helping Indian businesses drive innovation via AI, ML

“Amazon Rekognition APIs (application programming interface), particularly ‘DetectFaces’, provide rich image metadata that we can use to apply our business-specific quality guidelines to. Utilising information such as number of faces, size of faces, and estimated age range, we were able to remove photo-level manual curation work entirely,” said Sumesh Menon, Co-Founder of Woo.

Manaktala said that ML is also helping AWS better understand the customer needs, helping them secure their data. “The pace of innovation, in spite of our size, is tremendous,” Manaktala added.

With services such as Amazon “SageMaker”, the company also allows developers and data scientists to build, train and deploy Machine Learning models.”

Re:Invent Shows Amazon Is Accelerating Its Efforts in AI

“AWS Marketplace for Machine Learning

Another important announcement was AWS Marketplace for Machine Learning. Akin to an Appstore for ML, it provides a platform for developers to share and get revenue from their algorithms and makes it easy for organizations to search a library of paid, free and open-source models that can then be deployed in SageMaker. With over 150 trained models in the marketplace already, AWS now becomes, along with Algorithmia, one of the few environments facilitating the transaction of machine learning intellectual property. ”

Amazon says it’s making freely available the same machine learning courses that it uses to teach its own engineers – TC

“It’s Cyber Monday and Amazon has one deal for its customers that’s a little unexpected. The company just announced that it has made available, for free, the same machine learning courses that it uses to train its own engineers.

It’s a lot of information to digest — from a programming standpoint. According to a newly released statement by Matt Wood, an eight-year veteran of Amazon and a general manager of deep learning and AI at the company, there are more than 45 hours across 30 different courses that developers, data scientists, data platform engineers and business professionals can take gratis.”