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Home Automation Products Are the Next Big Tech Thing

Cahan You Feel the Excitement? Yahoo!’s New Point Man On Mobile Apps


Yahoo!’s recent innovations cover many activeAdam-Cahan fields in technology, including one of the fastest-growing sectors in the business: mobile apps.

Three years ago, Yahoo!’s newly-appointed CEO, Marissa Mayer, decided to shake things up at the company. One of the first things she did was bring new talent onboard. Adam Cahan was one of those talents. Cahan, a graduate of Brown University and a former filmmaker at National Geographic, was chosen by Mayer as Yahoo!’s Senior Vice President of Mobile and Emerging Products. His overall mission is to improve and expand Yahoo!’s global mobile services, such as its apps for mobile and tablet devices, the image and video hosting site Flickr, and Yahoo!’s Smart TV.

When Cahan started his new job in 2012, Yahoo!’s mobile department only had 50 employees in a company of more than 13,000 people. According to him, mobile apps weren’t taken that seriously, or at least seriously enough. “The challenge was that mobile was an afterthought at the time,” he said. “It was, ‘Hey, I have all this work that I need to do and, oh, mobile.’ It was like the finishing part of a sentence as an add-on, rather than a strategy.”

Cahan immediately got to work changing that strategy. First, he expanded his department’s size and increased collaborative efforts in the office. Second, he placed emphasis on user experience rather than profit losses. He instructed his engineering team to simplify and rebuild mobile apps such as Yahoo!’s weather, finance, and email apps, in order to make them more accessible and efficient. Efficiency, in particular, was important to him, as it allows users to get more done and, more importantly, to use the app more often.

This retooling of the mobile department had a profound impact on Yahoo!. Not only has Yahoo! gained more than 400 million new mobile app users since he took over, the mobile department alone grossed an outstanding $1.2 billion in revenue in 2014.

Cahan’s efforts reflect the growing influence mobile apps have on overall technology use. For example, global mobile traffic now represents roughly 13% of Internet traffic. Of that traffic, 80% is done through mobile apps. Global mobile app revenues reached $30 billion last year and is expected to grow from there. Yahoo!’s and Cahan’s emphasis on mobile apps and services is one of the latest innovations the tech industry must get accustomed to.

One Giant Leap for Artificial Intelligence?: MIT Model Seeks to Make Computers Think Like Humans

Chocolate chip cookie on white

Since their invention, computers have always done what the human brain can’t.

That’s why computers are best at handling massive sets of data and information and categorizing them into huge clusters. When it comes to picking apart minute details and looking at small sets of data, however, the human brain is more adept than a computer.

However, that could soon change with a new machine-learning algorithm that recently came out of MIT.

According to a December 8 Popular Science article, the MIT Model allows computers to group data points together based upon the data’s similarities to one another. The algorithm then creates a “prototype” from the different categories of data that includes features that are similar among all the pieces of data.

MIT’s press release on the MIT Model explains the way this model works by using a typical voter population in an election as an example.

“A plurality of the voters might be registered as Democrats, but a plurality of Republicans may have voted in the last primary,” MIT’s press release explains. “The conventional algorithm might then describe the typical voter as a registered Democrat who voted in the last Republican primary. The prototype constraint makes that kind of result very unlikely, since no single voter would match its characterization.”

The MIT Model could also help computers independently ward off spam and viruses, which currently affect about nine out of every 1,000 computers today, by better categorizing abnormal pieces of data and picking them out from the bigger picture of data on the computer’s system.

And, believe it or not, the MIT Model has been proven to be successful at helping computers interpret data more like we do. Under the traditional topic model algorithm, computers asked to find cooking recipes would bring back a random list of ingredients, while computers with the MIT Model were more likely to deliver results that more closely resembled recipes, according to Popular Science.

However, the MIT Model isn’t the perfect algorithm just yet — so it might still be some time before our computers can interpret data on a small scale as well as we can.

Yahoo and Bing Battle to Win Spot as Safari’s New Default Search Engine

Having already settled a deal with Mozilla to take over as its default search engine on the Firefox browser, Yahoo! has now set its sights on Apple.

Google’s deal with Apple is set to expire in the new year, giving Apple the opportunity to provide another default search engine. Both Yahoo! and Microsoft didn’t waste any time to jump on the opportunity.

Both companies have popular search engines (though not as popular as Google) that could create a strong partnership with Apple, and officials from both Yahoo! and Microsoft have had discussions with Internet Software and Services Senior Vice President of Apple, Eddy Cue, in hopes of taking over for Google.

After signing a deal with Mozilla to become Firefox’s new default search engine, Yahoo! has been hard at work to revamp its current search page, as well as its mobile search. The company is hoping that the updates appeal to Apple, as well.

Despite their best efforts, Yahoo! remains at a slight disadvantage. Microsoft’s Bing is currently the default search for Siri, and it is also well-integrated with Apple’s new Yosemite system upgrade. With a partnership already in place, Microsoft seems the natural choice.

With all the excitement over Yahoo!’s new deal with Firefox and the potential for a new deal with Apple, many are probably wondering, what’s the big deal, anyway? For search engine companies like Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft, earning a spot as a major Internet browser’s default search engine is a huge deal.

For starters, over 90% of Internet sessions begin with a search engine. All search engines are competing to be the number one pick of Internet users, and while Google has held onto first place for quite some time now (and likely will continue to do so), losing its default spot on both Firefox and Safari would be a big blow to business while giving either Yahoo! or Bing a leg up on the competition.

While many Internet users already have a favorite search engine site, a good number of people use whatever default search engine shows up on their browser, which is good news for whichever company is able to earn a deal with Apple.

Street of residential houses
These days much of what we do is connected in some way to technology. Our communication, recreation, and work are predominately done through the use of technology, and now our homes are also starting to fall under that umbrella.

Home automation systems are one of the next big things in the tech world. Not only do they allow homeowners the ability to control parts of their home with the tap of a touchscreen (which people love), but they also promote safety in the home, since these automation systems are often connected to smoke detectors and locks.

The shift to home automation technology isn’t going to be a tough one. In fact, companies that have traditionally focused on one part of home goods, like lock sets for example, have moved deftly into the home automation market.

One of the most recent advancements in home automation technology comes from Honeywell. The company’s Lyric system, which was released last year, is a dynamic thermostat, but the newest from Honeywell is much more advanced.

The system, which is still called Lyric, is now a home security system that features cameras, motion detection, and smoke and intruder alarms.

“We have researched and surveyed thousands of consumers,” said Inder Reddy, President of Honeywell Security Products Americas, according to Security Info Watch. “While many may have had different words to explain it, their concern for the security and safety of their homes consistently came out. They are looking for that dimension of using their security and safety system to manage their lifestyle.”

Honeywell isn’t the only company on the home automation scene, however. Of course, everyone’s favorite tech giant, Apple, has developed something called HomeKit.

HomeKit is basically a technology that allows people to control lights and appliances in their homes through the use of a mobile app. HomeKit isn’t actually a system like Lyric, but allows different home automation products to all be integrated for greater ease of use. Users do, of course, need an iPhone or iPad.