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Monday, August 02, 2021
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Ng: Smart plugs and replies

Wired Desktop

A NEW product I found on Amazon is called the Smart Plug, which enables ordinary appliances work via voice commands from Alexa’s system.

Simply plug it into an electrical outlet, plug appliances in it, and you can tell Alexa to start your coffeemaker every morning. That seems like a great way to start the day.

Retailing at $25, the Smart Plug seems like a great deal. However, there are now competitors that are coming along offering less than half the price. That’s the beauty of competition. Nobody can fool the consumer for long and when the volume comes, the price drops while the enterprise continues to make money.

If you are a user of GMail, you may have seen or even used their Smart Reply. The feature suggests key words or phrases that can save the user a few seconds of typing. For instance, in one of my mails, it suggest that I can directly reply it with “Noted with thanks,” or simply “Thank you!” Another email suggested that I reply with “Acknowledged. Thank you!” A scheduled invite automatically asks whether in just one click I would reply “Thanks. I will be there,” or “Sorry, I won’t be able to attend.”

Google says these auto-suggestions are already 10 percent of all the responses on GMail. Since they process billions of emails every day, that would mean there must be millions of hours saved by users not having to type their whole response but do so with just one click.

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If you remember, about two years ago, there was a mobile game that went widely viral and everybody was playing it. This was Pokemon Go and I must admit I was catching Pokemon while even on the road. There were even so-called battle spots in malls and some public places. Then as quickly as it became popular, people seemingly got tired of it and stopped playing.

Or did they? The creator of the game, Niantic, just announced that the game has passed the $2-billion mark in earnings. The game took 302 days to reach its first billion revenue and 811 days to hit $2 billion from in-app purchases.

It is now the highest grossing game in the US.

On another front, I just noticed that Alaska Airlines is now offering virtual reality (VR) games, headsets and video for its in-flight entertainment. It’s about time airlines level up. There used to be a time when I got so excited about airline entertainment. Planes were usually first to offer video-on-demand, where you could have a wide selection of really good movies and TV shows to choose from and watch it.

Well now, I don’t get excited anymore. I can select and watch from my mobile phone, tablet or laptop. But not many of us have VR headsets and hopefully, with the ability to watch 3D or 360-degree films or games, people will get excited about airline entertainment again.


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