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DeepMind Speech-to-Text Mimics Humans, Michigan Votes Yes to Driverless Vehicles, and More – This Week in Artificial Intelligence 09-09-16




DeepMind Speech-to-Text Mimics Humans, Michigan Votes Yes to Driverless Vehicles, and More - This Week in Artificial Intelligence 09-09-16

1 – WaveNet: DeepMind’s Generative Model for Raw Audio

On Thursday, researchers at DeepMind introduced WaveNet, a “deep generative model of raw audio waveforms” that moves forward how sound is generated in text-to-speech (i.e. speech synthesis). The deep learning-based model is able to generate both increased human-like sounding speech  (DeepMind claims it has reduced the gap with human performance by over 50 percent), as well as music and other audio signals. WaveNet is different from the latest parametric TTS models because it directly models raw waveforms, as opposed to generating sound by passing outputs through vocoders (signal processing algorithms). On their blog, DeepMind provides both a link to their paper, as well as WaveNet sound clips of speech (in English and Mandarin) and generated piano music.


DeepMind’s WaveNet synthesis

(Read the full article and research paper on DeepMind’s Blog)

2 – CMU Algorithm Detects Online Fraudsters

A team of CMU researchers have developed an algorithm that targets fake social media accounts, as well as fraudulent Amazon and Yelp reviewers. FRAUDAR is not the first algorithm of its kind, but it works well enough that the CMU team won Best Paper at the 2016 Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining in San Francisco in August 2016. This new method can sort through the “camouflage” used by fraudulent account users, such as linking an account to a popular celebrity or using hijacked accounts. While these are not criminal activities, fraudulent behavior does undermine the value of public platforms. As Christos Faloutsos, a member of the FRAUDAR research team, stated:

“The algorithm is very fast and doesn’t require us to target anybody. We hope that by making this code available as open source, social media platforms can put it to good use.”

(Read the full article on Carnegie Mellon University News)

3 – Google to Pay $625M to Buy San Jose-based API Management Business

Google will purchase San Jose-based Apigee for a reported $625 million by the end of 2016. The multi-million purchase price translates to $17.40 a share, up $0.40 from the $17 per share price that Apigee has been trading steady at since going public in April 2015. Apigee develops API (application programming interfaces), which allows two software programs to communicate with the other. According to Diane Greene, Google’s cloud business chief,

“Companies are moving beyond the traditional ways of communicating like phone calls and visits and instead are communicating programmatically through APIs.”

Companies currently using Apogee’s APIs include Walgreens, AT&T, and Live Nation, among others. The business API management market is predicted by Forrester to reach $3 billion by 2020.

(Read the full article in Silicon Valley Business Journal)

4 – Michigan Moves to Not Require Human in Driverless Test Cars

Michigan’s mission to make itself an emerging leader in tech research and development was bolstered on Wednesday, when its Senate passed a bill that eliminates the requirement for a human to be inside autonomous vehicles during test drives. The bill, which is also supported by Governor Rick Snyder, will be sent for legislative approval by the end of 2016. Senator Mike Kowall, the lead sponsor, told his fellow senators:

“We’re moving into the next century. With your assistance, we’re going to secure Michigan’s place … as the center of the universe for autonomous vehicle studies, research, development and manufacturing.”

Michigan is one of only eight states that has passed laws concerning the handling of autonomous cars. Meanwhile, the federal government continues to develop recommendations for states on how to handle autonomous vehicles; these guidelines are expected to be released in late September 2016.

(Read the full article in U.S. News & World Report)

5 – IBM Linux Servers Designed to Accelerate Artificial Intelligence, Deep Learning and Advanced Analytics

On Thursday, IBM announced its development of new servers that will help support and boost processing power for cognitive workloads involved in deep learning and advanced data analytics. The new Linux-based servers not only help move AI progress forward, but cut data centers costs for companies and cloud-based service providers. In a test run at Chinese-based Tencent, an Internet service provider, a cluster of IBM’s OpenPOWER servers processed data three times faster than its x86 server predecessor. Through its OpenPOWER Foundation, IBM has also developed a new processor called POWER8, which uses NVIDIA’s Tesla P100 Pascal GPU through NVIDA NVLink (a high-bandwidth interconnect). The U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), along with an unnamed multinational retail corporation, will be two of the first entities to receive IBM’s new Power Systems.

(Read the full release on IBM News)

Image credit: Wired



Apparel manufacturers reduce chargebacks with thermal printers

Footwear, apparel, consumer electronics, and other consumer goods manufacturers and suppliers can incur tens… Read more »

The post Apparel manufacturers reduce chargebacks with thermal printers appeared first on Logistics Business® Magazine.





Logistics BusinessApparel manufacturers reduce chargebacks with thermal printers

Footwear, apparel, consumer electronics, and other consumer goods manufacturers and suppliers can incur tens of thousands of dollars in chargebacks per year solely from shipping carton barcodes that do not meet specifications. Strict barcode requirements set forth by the International Standards Organization (ISO) must be met, and accuracy is imperative.

Using TSC thermal industrial printers with integrated barcode inspection systems, manufacturers can scan and grade their barcode labels before they are placed onto shipping cartons, reducing chargebacks and enhancing efficiency. Keep reading to learn more about how our thermal printers deliver these results.

High-Volume DCs, Razor-Thin Margins

Major retailers receive hundreds of pallets every hour in each of their distribution centres from dozens of manufacturers. And these retailers run a business model on razor-thin margins. Processing time must be quick and efficient. If an incoming carton’s barcode label can’t be read quickly and easily, then processing time grows and productivity is hampered.

Retailers can require that all vendors produce barcodes that meet strict ISO barcode standards to ensure swift processing of incoming shipments. Manual processing of barcodes costs retailers a significant amount of time and money. Suppliers with barcode- labels that fail to meet required standards could be hit with chargeback fees and may even have their entire shipment rejected. Consistent failure to meet ISO barcode standards could result in renegotiation or cancellation of a supplier’s contract.

Scanning and grading labels before they are placed onto the shipping carton empowers vendors to quickly and easily test and ensure accurate barcodes. Testing barcodes before shipments leave the facility to retail distribution centres is the most reliable way for apparel manufacturers to avoid hefty chargebacks and other issues that could affect their bottom line.

Consistent barcode testing and quality can be achieved using the Printronix Auto ID T8000 and T6000e ODV-2D barcode inspection printers, which come equipped with scanning solutions inside the printer’s footprint. Because the scanner is integrated with the printer controller, there is no need for an external PC, software, or the creation of a “golden image” of the label to produce accurate, ISO-compliant labels. This means:

  • Simplified verification without the need for external scanners
  • Lower costs since no additional software investment is required
  • Expedited quality using built-in printer scanners that automatically find and grade up to 50 barcodes per label

The integrated scanner grades to ISO standards and verifies that each barcode’s data sent to the printer matches the printed barcode. Reading barcodes from a wide variety of data streams, including PostScript and PDF, the integrated scanner finds, verifies, grades, and reports the details of every barcode on every label through the Printronix Auto ID free, standard device management software PrintNET Enterprise. These reports can be exported for integration or stored in the host system to help defend against chargebacks.

There is no need to define requirements in a software program, change the data stream, or set up and use external attachments. Printronix Auto ID industrial printers can get up and running quickly. These printers automatically overstrike bad labels, reducing costly manual processes while improving quality, reducing the risk of chargebacks for non-compliant labels.

Reduce chargebacks with the Printronix Auto ID T8000 and T6000e industrial printers. Featuring ODV-2D barcode inspection technology, TSC says these printers are loaded with benefits that enhance barcode compliance and quality, all at a competitive price.


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Alstef Group launches new software suite

Developed by Alstef Group through knowledge and experience gained over 40 years of intralogistics… Read more »

The post Alstef Group launches new software suite appeared first on Logistics Business® Magazine.





Logistics BusinessAlstef Group launches new software suite

Developed by Alstef Group through knowledge and experience gained over 40 years of intralogistics management and controls, OPAL is an innovative, unified software suite, which ensures the overall control of automated storage, AGV fleets, order picking, and the associated flows for all logistics solutions offered by the group.

OPAL manages the business challenges of a logistics installation, by providing speed, precision, and traceability while reducing preparation times. Efficient and agile, this suite adapts to the specificities of the distribution channels and ensures optimized management in real-time of each activity.

With its broad connectivity, OPAL interfaces with all information systems on the market, in order to provide a global intralogistics vision. The software suite has also been designed to meet quality and cyber security requirements. “It was important for us to offer a robust and functionally rich solution that was also highly secure and complied with ANSSI recommendations,” explains Yang ZHAO, Industrial IT Director at Alstef Group.

Depending on the customer’s application, all or part of the native functions are activated and configured to meet the needs of the installation.

A modular approach around a main WCS

In addition to native functions which optimize all the movements of the handling equipment while working within rules and constraints of the business, several complementary modules enrich this software offer.

Three modules are available to support operations: OPAL Overview provides a visualization of installations; OPAL Notify offers real-time notification of events, and; OPAL Analytics provides customisable operational dashboards (KPIs). Finally, OPAL benefits from a process monitoring module with OPAL IT Monitoring, a tool for tracking incidents and IT resolution.

“With OPAL, Alstef Group writes a new page in its history and confirms its commitment to its customers,” says Uwe Klärner, Sales Director Intralogistics, Alstef Group. “Opal is the reflection of our will to develop innovative and agile solutions, adapted to the operational needs of our customers.”


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Strengths and flaws in the EU’s new IOSS

Beleaguered British retailers are braced for yet more changes to how they sell goods… Read more »

The post Strengths and flaws in the EU’s new IOSS appeared first on Logistics Business® Magazine.





Logistics BusinessStrengths and flaws in the EU’s new IOSS

Beleaguered British retailers are braced for yet more changes to how they sell goods to the EU. From 1st July 2021, a new EU Import One-Stop Shop (IOSS) scheme means British-based e-commerce companies only need to register and pay VAT in one EU country to sell goods not exceeding £135/€150 across the entire EU. The new IOSS regulations certainly make retailers’ lives easier, but they aren’t entirely good news, says the international delivery expert ParcelHero.

ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks M.I.L.T., says: “On the face of it, the new IOSS scheme helps return things to their pre-Brexit norm. However, in the case of the IOSS, the devil really is in the detail. We’re revealing five reasons GB traders should welcome the new scheme and five reasons the IOSS might make selling to EU customers even more complicated and expensive.”

Five reasons to welcome the new IOSS

1 IOSS greatly simplifies VAT procedures by allowing non-EU online sellers (remember that includes sellers based in Great Britain post-Brexit) to register for VAT in one EU member state, collect VAT from all their EU sales and report on a single monthly IOSS VAT return. No more multiple VAT filings in multiple countries.

2 Life is greatly simplified for sellers using online marketplaces. These become the ‘supplier’ when cross border B2C sales are made on them by third-party sellers. VAT liability (collecting and reporting) for sales in EU countries will fall on the marketplace rather than the merchant, providing the consignment is valued at less than £135 (€150). Our top tip is that businesses using only online marketplaces may now be able to end any existing EU VAT registrations, as they will no longer be responsible for collecting and reporting VAT.

3 Retailers’ EU-based customers won’t be facing any more unexpected VAT payments on purchases of goods sold in Britain, which will build back trust in buying from GB sellers.

4 Northern Ireland-based companies may enjoy an exemption threshold. NI firms can join the alternative intra-EU OSS scheme. Providing their sales to the EU don’t exceed £8,818/€10,000 per annum, NI-based organisations will only need to follow domestic VAT rules.

5 The IOSS scheme is voluntary and will speed up sellers’ EU shipments by creating a fast-track Customs clearance ‘green channel’ for consignments not exceeding £135/€150.

Five flaws in the new IOSS

1 The changes remove the previous VAT exemptions for SMEs on EU shipments worth £19/€22 or under. That means about 26,000 UK e-commerce sellers will have to register for VAT for the first time or stop selling to the EU.

2 The EU estimates it will cost around £6,900 per company each year for British sellers (that excludes Northern Ireland companies) to register and comply with IOSS regulations as a ‘non-Union’ user.

3 Unlike EU-based OSS users, IOSS users based in Great Britain don’t qualify for the new £8,818/€10,000 threshold before they have to pay EU VAT, rather than follow domestic rules. Only Northern Ireland sellers (under the terms of the Northern Ireland Protocol) have this option.

4 The new IOSS only applies to deliveries of items valued under the £135/€150 threshold. For all goods over that amount, GB businesses will have three choices: ensure their customer pays the import VAT at Customs; offer the option of delivering with all duties paid (DDP) or hold stock somewhere in the EU and register for VAT there.

5 Confusion still exists around registration. The website states: ‘…it is not expected that the UK IOSS registration portal will be available for use for the 1 July 2021 launch’. There is also uncertainty about whether GB companies signing up for IOSS in an EU country must appoint an intermediary agent to register and file returns. Together with the French and German governments, ParcelHero believes this requirement does not apply to British sellers, as the UK-EU trade deal includes a tax and VAT mutual assistance agreement. The Republic of Ireland is a favourite option for GB companies because it uses English in business but, just to complicate matters, it recently stated it doesn’t yet recognise the agreement. Consequently, it will require the use of an intermediary agent.

ParcelHero’s in-depth analysis of the ongoing UK-EU trade problems and, in particular, the powder keg Northern Ireland Protocol agreement can be seen at:


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