Power

Microsoft wants to make meetings sound better

Apple wants more-accurate fitness results, and more patent filings from Big Tech.

Microsoft wants to make meetings sound better

Don't forget to mute yourself!

Photo: Jon Tyson /Unsplash

It was kind of a slow week in terms of patents that were filed, but there were still a few things that caught my eye. Both Apple and Google want to improve how your watch and phone track your activity and your brain. And Microsoft wants to make your meetings less noisy.

But just remember: The big tech companies file all kinds of crazy patents for things, and though most never amount to anything, some end up defining the future.

Alphabet

More-accurate activity tracking

I have an Apple Watch, and I'm probably as excited about its fitness-tracking capabilities as I was when it was first announced in 2014. In addition to giving me reminders to stand and letting me know that my activity rings need some work, it also accurately shows me how many calories I've burned … or so I thought!

Google filed a patent that would make fitness trackers even more accurate, by not only using the accelerometer to determine what type of exercise I'm doing, but by using information from other types of media I might be consuming while I work out, such as a cardio video. That means my activity tracker could track that during my cardio workout, I did push-ups, jumping jacks and burpees. Hopefully it wouldn't track me hunched over crying and breathing hard after doing push-ups, jumping jacks and burpees.

Apple

Better reminders

Apple also seems to be interested in improving the accuracy of things, this time with making reminders work a little easier (and better). The filing imagines various ways to set reminders, like reminding me to do something while I'm doing something else. For example, I could set a reminder that says "Tell Mom about the TV show" that reminds me to do it the next time I'm talking to my mom. Or if I park the car in a far-away spot, I could speak into my phone, ask it to remind me where I parked and it would drop a pin on a map.

Just a simple reminder to join the meeting and mute everything.Image: USPTO

Microsoft

Reducing audio feedback

No matter which videoconferencing software you use, there are a few key things to remember: Mute yourself when you're not talking, unmute yourself when you are talking and turn your camera off if you're still in your pajamas. All those rules will still hold true when we get back to the office, with one addition: If more than one person in a room is in the same video meeting, you have to remember to mute, otherwise the feedback-echoing, horrible, howling noise will spoil the entire meeting.

This patent from Microsoft aims to help save your meetings with a clever reminder to mute yourself and turn off your audio when you join an in-progress meeting in the same room as someone else. In some instances, the system might even preemptively mute the first computer as a second person joins. Just be sure to change out of your pajamas before that meeting. If you want.

A better way to search

Website search results — especially from content publishers — are notoriously hit or miss. Depending on the site, a search query might have to be exact, or you might have to learn Boolean search strings to find what you're looking for. Implementing search solutions can be costly, so websites often incorporate Google search into their site search. But those results can sometimes pull in search results from other websites, and the branding on the search results is all Google, which could be confusing.

This patent outlines a way for search results to be co-branded with either a favicon or site logo from the content publisher. This could help the user feel confident that the search results are, in fact, from the content publisher they're looking at. This patent doesn't go as far as improving the search results themselves, but at least you'll know where the results are coming from.

Fintech

Judge Zia Faruqui is trying to teach you crypto, one ‘SNL’ reference at a time

His decisions on major cryptocurrency cases have quoted "The Big Lebowski," "SNL," and "Dr. Strangelove." That’s because he wants you — yes, you — to read them.

The ways Zia Faruqui (right) has weighed on cases that have come before him can give lawyers clues as to what legal frameworks will pass muster.

Photo: Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post via Getty Images

“Cryptocurrency and related software analytics tools are ‘The wave of the future, Dude. One hundred percent electronic.’”

That’s not a quote from "The Big Lebowski" — at least, not directly. It’s a quote from a Washington, D.C., district court memorandum opinion on the role cryptocurrency analytics tools can play in government investigations. The author is Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui.

Keep Reading Show less
Veronica Irwin

Veronica Irwin (@vronirwin) is a San Francisco-based reporter at Protocol covering fintech. Previously she was at the San Francisco Examiner, covering tech from a hyper-local angle. Before that, her byline was featured in SF Weekly, The Nation, Techworker, Ms. Magazine and The Frisc.

The financial technology transformation is driving competition, creating consumer choice, and shaping the future of finance. Hear from seven fintech leaders who are reshaping the future of finance, and join the inaugural Financial Technology Association Fintech Summit to learn more.

Keep Reading Show less
FTA
The Financial Technology Association (FTA) represents industry leaders shaping the future of finance. We champion the power of technology-centered financial services and advocate for the modernization of financial regulation to support inclusion and responsible innovation.
Enterprise

AWS CEO: The cloud isn’t just about technology

As AWS preps for its annual re:Invent conference, Adam Selipsky talks product strategy, support for hybrid environments, and the value of the cloud in uncertain economic times.

Photo: Noah Berger/Getty Images for Amazon Web Services

AWS is gearing up for re:Invent, its annual cloud computing conference where announcements this year are expected to focus on its end-to-end data strategy and delivering new industry-specific services.

It will be the second re:Invent with CEO Adam Selipsky as leader of the industry’s largest cloud provider after his return last year to AWS from data visualization company Tableau Software.

Keep Reading Show less
Donna Goodison

Donna Goodison (@dgoodison) is Protocol's senior reporter focusing on enterprise infrastructure technology, from the 'Big 3' cloud computing providers to data centers. She previously covered the public cloud at CRN after 15 years as a business reporter for the Boston Herald. Based in Massachusetts, she also has worked as a Boston Globe freelancer, business reporter at the Boston Business Journal and real estate reporter at Banker & Tradesman after toiling at weekly newspapers.

Image: Protocol

We launched Protocol in February 2020 to cover the evolving power center of tech. It is with deep sadness that just under three years later, we are winding down the publication.

As of today, we will not publish any more stories. All of our newsletters, apart from our flagship, Source Code, will no longer be sent. Source Code will be published and sent for the next few weeks, but it will also close down in December.

Keep Reading Show less
Bennett Richardson

Bennett Richardson ( @bennettrich) is the president of Protocol. Prior to joining Protocol in 2019, Bennett was executive director of global strategic partnerships at POLITICO, where he led strategic growth efforts including POLITICO's European expansion in Brussels and POLITICO's creative agency POLITICO Focus during his six years with the company. Prior to POLITICO, Bennett was co-founder and CMO of Hinge, the mobile dating company recently acquired by Match Group. Bennett began his career in digital and social brand marketing working with major brands across tech, energy, and health care at leading marketing and communications agencies including Edelman and GMMB. Bennett is originally from Portland, Maine, and received his bachelor's degree from Colgate University.

Enterprise

Why large enterprises struggle to find suitable platforms for MLops

As companies expand their use of AI beyond running just a few machine learning models, and as larger enterprises go from deploying hundreds of models to thousands and even millions of models, ML practitioners say that they have yet to find what they need from prepackaged MLops systems.

As companies expand their use of AI beyond running just a few machine learning models, ML practitioners say that they have yet to find what they need from prepackaged MLops systems.

Photo: artpartner-images via Getty Images

On any given day, Lily AI runs hundreds of machine learning models using computer vision and natural language processing that are customized for its retail and ecommerce clients to make website product recommendations, forecast demand, and plan merchandising. But this spring when the company was in the market for a machine learning operations platform to manage its expanding model roster, it wasn’t easy to find a suitable off-the-shelf system that could handle such a large number of models in deployment while also meeting other criteria.

Some MLops platforms are not well-suited for maintaining even more than 10 machine learning models when it comes to keeping track of data, navigating their user interfaces, or reporting capabilities, Matthew Nokleby, machine learning manager for Lily AI’s product intelligence team, told Protocol earlier this year. “The duct tape starts to show,” he said.

Keep Reading Show less
Kate Kaye

Kate Kaye is an award-winning multimedia reporter digging deep and telling print, digital and audio stories. She covers AI and data for Protocol. Her reporting on AI and tech ethics issues has been published in OneZero, Fast Company, MIT Technology Review, CityLab, Ad Age and Digiday and heard on NPR. Kate is the creator of RedTailMedia.org and is the author of "Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media," a book about how the 2008 presidential campaigns used digital media and data.

Latest Stories
Bulletins