IFA Insider #2

While the weekend may mean a break for many, the same can’t be said for those at IFA. Over the last few days the show has been continuing its domination of the tech news agenda, with a major focus on AI and robotics. Google and Amazon are vying for their AI to become integral parts of our homes, and Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei’s Consumer Business Group, wants it to be Huawei’s AI offerings in our pockets.

So here’s our insights from the last three days of IFA…

Huawei Keynote

Day two of IFA saw Chinese manufacturer Huawei enter the AI fray. Attention at the start of the show centered around the other big players such as Amazon and Google, but on Saturday Richard Yu sought to rectify that.

For Huawei, Saturday was all about AI on the mobile, with the company announcing its new Kirin 970 processor. Information about the Kirin 970 had leaked a day early, but Huawei took to the stage on Saturday to fill us in on the details.

In the keynote, the processor’s impressive specifications were confirmed, namely an 8-core CPU and a new generation 12-core GPU. The Kirin boasts a tremendous 5.5 billion transistors into an area of only one cm². Alongside this, the Kirin 970 is the first mobile AI computing platform featuring a dedicated Neural Processing Unit (NPU). All in all, this means it can deliver 25 times the performance with 50 times the power efficiency as the previous Kirin 960.

Not to leave this new piece of hardware in isolation, Huawei confirmed that the chipset would feature in its next flagship handset, the Huawei Mate 10, which will be officially announced on 16th October. The Mate 10 will represent Huawei’s push to fully integrate chips, devices, and the cloud in their consumer AI offerings. It will be interesting to see just how Huawei’s hardware can help them take on the big household names over the coming months.

Alexa vs. Google

While the fight between AI assistants Alexa and Google has never been a secret, the last few days at IFA have seen the battle lines clearly drawn. Alexa started to appear on more and more handsets, and Google announced they’ll be providing their “OK Google” services to  5 speaker systems.

While this could be seen as a levelling of the playing field between Amazon and Google, the biggest news here is how Alexa has managed to penetrate the smartphone market with little to no control over the manufacturer’s software and hardware specs. It’s apparent that Alexa has come of age and become a serious choice for manufacturers, but with Google not one to admit defeat, we’ll be sure to see them attempt to make this just a honeymoon period for Alexa.

Wacky Tech

While IFA is one of the most important and serious events of the year for technology, IFA has also become home to the wacky and wonderful – and this weekend’s showcase did not disappoint.

Ever fancied becoming a cyborg? Then look no further than Digiwell, who can turn you into the human equivalent of a house-key with its implantable microchips, for just €75. As a crazy as it sounds, this could have a host of benefits such as safer data storage and the simplification of mobile payments.

Velux unveiled a partnership with Netatmo to create the first automated windows, blinds and shutters. Smart sensors are used to measure the temperature, light, humidity and air quality. Based on findings, the tech can automatically open or close roof windows, blinds and shutters in the quest for better indoor climates and energy savings.

Panasonic has made a comprehensive pitch to be a leader in smart homes, with a plethora of announcements including the ‘collaborative kitchen’, the ‘sustainable maintainer’ (a smart washing machine) and the concept Movable Fridge – which is exactly what it sounds like. The Movable Fridge is an amalgamation of smart tech; it responds to voice assisted platforms like Alexa or Cortana, and uses sensors to map its surroundings – avoiding collisions. While still only a proof of concept, it promises to recommend food to go with the drink it just delivered to your sofa, which makes it a contender to be the most promising idea of the show so far.