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Microsoft has announced that the latest version of Skype for desktops and laptops now offers the option of blurring the background during video calls. This feature works to distinguish and isolate the subject from the surrounding background, and places the focus on the person as the most important component of the scene. This will provide a distraction-free space, and help eliminate any embarrassing moments during video conferencing. This option was first introduced in another Microsoft messaging application, Teams. Last September the company announced their support for the background blur in this collaboration app, introducing new features for the workplace chat platform and Office 365. The blur feature has put Artificial Intelligence (AI) to use, as this advanced technology has been trained to recognize the human form. It is not just the speaker’s face that is in focus, but also their hair, hands and arms, thus creating a smooth…

Verizon has announced a successful edge computing trial on a live 5G network, conducted using their newly formed 5G test bed in Houston. The company’s engineers used Multi-Access Edge Compute (MEC) equipment and MEC platform software, incorporated in a network facility closer to the network edge, and managed to decrease network latency by half. The test results are important for next generation networks, enabling 5G to support low-latency applications such as Virtual Reality (VR). Low latency refers to minimizing the round-trip time taken by data packets. This is an essential yet enormously challenging attribute for a 5G network, and its high performance requirements. At present, many mobile applications depend on cloud-based processing that is handled in centralized data centers, and the physical distances involved increase latency. According to Verizon, locating the computing power nearer to the users at the network edge significantly decreases the time to deliver services. …

Vodafone New Zealand recently announced it will be the first telecommunications company to launch an Intelligent Digital Human in cooperation with a Kiwi company, FaceMe. While the identity of the Digital Human should be revealed within the next two months, it is already clear that the AI-based assistant will be of great benefit in improving the self-service experience for Vodafone’s customers, and allow staff to devote time working with more complex customer demands. “Great customer experience happens through meaningful conversations.  FaceMe has evolved AI technology to create Intelligent Digital Humans that are human-like in their appearance and interaction. Thanks to machine learning, they are capable of continuously learning how to anticipate our customers’ needs and better serve them,” explained Vodafone’s director of Customer Operations, Helen van Orton. Orton emphasized that this initiative is not a replacement for front-line customer service, but will rather aid in maximizing staff…

The 2017 IP EXPO Europe was the greatest IT conference of the year for CIOs, heads of IT, security specialists, heads of insight, tech experts and organizations looking to innovate and evolve through technology. Focusing on six IT themes, the event’s 12th edition brought together more than 300 exhibitors from different parts of the technology sector and 300 free seminar sessions at ExCel in London on 4 and 5 of October. Across both days, Artificial Intelligence (AI) was the main topic of discussion, with Stuart Russell, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at UC Berkley and AI-pioneer providing powerful insights on the reality of AI and whether or not we, as humans, should be concerned about its evolution. “It seems very likely that at some point we will have machines that are more intelligent than human beings,” said Professor Russell in one of his presentations. However, AI wasn’t the…