TechSummit Rewind 126

This is the TechSummit Rewind, a daily recap of the top technology headlines.

Amazon launches Go cashier-free food shopping experience


Amazon has launched Go, a “new kind of store with no checkout required” with a single 1,800 square foot retail space in Seattle.

Customers use the Go app to enter the store, with a combination of sensors, computer vision, and deep learning keeping track of what’s taken off and returned to shelves inside a virtual cart. Once finished, the shopper simply walks out and gets charged with their Amazon account with a receipt.

According to the company, the store has been in the works for four years.

“We asked ourselves: what if we could create a shopping experience with no lines and no lines and no checkout? Could we push the boundaries of computer vision and machine learning to create a store where customers could simply take what they want and go?”

-Amazon, on the Go website

In its current form, the store is built specifically around ready-to-eat meals and snacks prepared on-site (by humans ironically) along with Amazon Meal Kits that split the difference with 30-minute meal prep.

Go launches to Amazon employees in beta this year. The store will open for all early next year.

Google’s Trusted Contacts app lets you share your location during emergencies


When Google Latitude was discontinued in 2013, it never truly made a replacement for its version of iOS’ Find My Friend. With Trusted Contacts, Google’s bringing location tracking back so you can communicate with and locate loved ones in case of emergency.

Trusted Contacts lets you add people with whom you want to share your whereabouts, whether it’s your GPS location or if you’re online. During a crisis, friends and family members can request your status to see if you’re safe, and you can respond with your location to let them know you’re okay, or deny the request. If you don’t respond within five minutes, the app will automatically broadcast your location to the contact, or your last known location if your phone is offline.

The app can also be used as a virtual companion – sharing your commute with your friends so they can watch to see that you’ve made it to your final destination. When you get to your location, push the button at the top of the screen or on the lock screen to end sharing.

However, it could open yourself up to potential stalkers that can keep their eyes on your whereabouts at all times if you leave the app passively running in the background.

Trusted Contacts is free to download now on Android.

Microsoft tries out chat bots again on Kik


According to Twitter user Tom Honsell, Microsoft has launched Zo, a chat bot that’s being tested now in the Kik messaging app. After briefly gauging your personality, it’ll participate in conversations like an overexcited teenager.

Notably, the bot steers clear of topics like politics or Hitler (unlike its previous Tay bot). It’s also uncannily knowledgeable about Redmond’s pride and joy, and is a devout Windows Phone fan.

LG Electronics makes home appliance boss CEO


Jo Seong-jin, LG Electronics’ home appliance boss, has been promoted to the company’s vice chairman and CEO in its annual reshuffle.

Mobile head Juno Cho kept his post, along with his TV and auto component counterparts.

In all, 58 executives were promoted, the most in 12 years from the company, and compares to last year’s 38 promotions.

Volkswagen launches Moia standalone mobility company


Volkswagen is making a significant bet on future mobility services with Moia, a new separate company that exists under the VW umbrella focused on providing mobility solutions, including fleet-based commuter shuttles and eventually autonomous on-demand transportation.

The company’s focused on solving the problems associated specifically with cities and movement within there, according to new group CEO Ole Harms. He called mobility in the city the “lifeblood” of the urban environment, and suggested that Moia will seek to be the heart in the metaphor that keeps the flow running smoothly so that the city and its residents can function efficiently.

To do this, Moia will first focus on setting up on-demand shuttle services, using original designs for small, multi-passenger shuttles that are intended to operate with electric drivetrains for maximum efficiency with maximum impact.

Users can hail shuttles from an app, and join them form designated pick-up points near their location on short notice. If users hail during a time when they’d be the only passenger, Moia is currently planning to potentially outsource that to partners like Gett or others operating ride-hailing services to ensure users can still get a ride.

Fitness trackers outpace smartwatches with consumers

Fitbit Charge 2

According to a new report from IDC, most people are wearing a fitness tracker rather than a smartwatch.

From June through September, fitness trackers made up 85 percent of the wearables market and drove all the growth in sales. Smartwatches meanwhile fell in popularity during the same time period.

Fitbit took first place on the list of popular wearables brands, followed by Xiaomi, Garmin, Apple, and Samsung. According to IDC, Fitbit shipped 5.3 million fitness trackers in the period.

The firm expects sales to remain strong as the holiday season approaches.

“Simplicity is a driving factor, and this is well reflected in the top vendor list as four out of five offer a simple, dedicated fitness device.”

-Jitesh Ubrani, IDC senior research analyst


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