OAPs to be given Samsung Galaxy tablets to SKYPE carers after cash-strapped council scraps home visits

A CASH-STRAPPED council is handing out high-end Samsung Galaxy tablets in a bid to make sick pensioners SKYPE their carers instead of receiving a home visit.

Up to 40 OAPs in Essex will be handed top-of-the-range 4G Samsung Galaxy tablets as part of the madcap scheme.

 Up to 40 Essex OAPs will receive top-of-the-range computer tablets as part of the trial

SWNS:South West News Service

Up to 40 Essex OAPs will receive top-of-the-range computer tablets as part of the trial

Last night Essex County Council bosses insisted the trial, run in partnership with Essex Cared LTD, will provide “a more convenient and prove a less intrusive method of interacting with a care worker, friends and family.”

But top GP Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard blasted: “What these patients need is someone to listen to them and to find purpose in life.

“GPs see patients, many of whom are widowed, who have multiple health problems like diabetes, hypertension and depression, but often their main problem isn’t medical, they’re lonely.

An estimated 1.1 million OAPs are chronically lonely in the UK, and lonely people are more likely to develop serious conditions like heart disease, depression and dementia.

Cliff Rich, CEO of Contact the Elderly added: “We gladly recognise the amazing strides modern technology has made in helping all of us, and especially older people, with staying in touch with family and friends who may live too far away to visit in person.

 Critics say the scheme will rob lonely pensioners of vital face-to-face contact

SWNS:South West News Service

Critics say the scheme will rob lonely pensioners of vital face-to-face contact

“However, we still believe that nothing can replace the essential human need for face-to-face interaction.”

John Spence, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, said: “It is important that we keep pace with new technology.

“I am pleased that Essex is trialling this system to have a positive impact on people’s lives.

“It will allow our vulnerable adults to live independently, providing them with something that is accessible from the comfort of their own homes.”

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Microsoft’s Cortana-Powered Speaker To Rival Amazon Echo And Google Home; Invoke Speaker With Skype Integration : Tech : Science World Report

First Posted: May 11, 2017 03:00 AM EDT

Microsoft Invoke Speaker

The Microsoft Cortana-powered Invoke speaker has a Skype built-in feature, which makes it better than Google Home and Amazon Echo.
(Photo : Windows/YouTube screenshot)

Microsoft recently announced that its internet-connected speaker will debut this fall. Microsoft teamed up with Harman Kardon company to make this device possible. Harman Kardon is a manufacturer of home and car audio equipment. The Microsoft speaker is called the “Invoke.”

According to Trusted Reviews, the Invoke speaker is the first intelligent speaker to feature Microsoft’s Cortana voice assistant. The device is expected to rival the speakers like Google’s Home and Amazon’s Echo. Users can easily ask the voice assistant Cortana to play music, check the traffic, set calendar schedules, listen to the latest news and events, control smart home thermostats and many more.

Some speakers tend to sound cheap and tinny. But the partnership of Microsoft and Harmon Kardon means that the Invoke speaker will not have these common problems. The Microsoft Invoke speaker will have seven microphones to listen for users barking orders. Microsoft is still looking for a way to upgrade the Invoke for it to stand out from any other speakers.

As CNBC noted, Microsoft also added a Skype built-in feature to the Invoke speaker. With the Skype integrated feature, users are allowed to call cellphones and other Skype users using the device. This feature is not available on Google Home or Amazon Echo.

The Skype integration feature means that the Microsoft Invoke speaker could function as a slick-looking speaker phone and receive Skype calls, too. This makes the Microsoft Invoke speaker potentially more useful than either the Amazon Echo or Google Home.

More details about the Microsoft Invoke speaker and other devices are expected to be revealed at the company’s annual Build developer conference. The Invoke speaker and other speakers with voice assistants only exist to collect information from its users.

A Gizmodo report stated that it is easier for the company to sell something to the users if there is a lot of information the company has on a user. There was a case where Google irritated a user by delivering unsolicited ads for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Also, Amazon Echo takes note on what kinds of products are bought when the user orders them via Alexa.


Skype for Windows 10 is Now Available on the Xbox One

Why it matters to you

This updated version of Skype should offer Xbox One users more control over their video calls and audio conversations.

In August 2016, Microsoft launched the Universal Windows Platform version of Skype on PCs and mobile devices alongside the Windows 10 Anniversary Update. Now, as the Creators Update is being rolled out to Windows users, the company has brought the UWP Skype app to the Xbox One.

The app has undergone some changes to ensure that the console experience is just as good as using Skype on a PC or a mobile device. Its user interface has been simplified, and outfitted with a dark color scheme that’s more in line with other Xbox One utilities, according to a post on the Skype blog.

Users can take advantage of various shortcuts that have been mapped to the Xbox One controller. A single button press can send a video call to the background, turning off the camera feed but retaining the audio while the user boots up a game or begins watching a television show.

The new app also brings some improvements to the way Skype utilizes the Xbox One’s Kinect camera peripheral. The camera can use auto zoom to focus in on the caller, panning and zooming as necessary, but there’s also a new manual zoom option that allows users to fine-tune their camera positioning by hand — the triggers of the controller zoom in and out, while the right stick can be used to pan around.

While the focus of the Creators Update has largely been the PC, Microsoft hasn’t been ignoring the Xbox One. As well as this new version of Skype, the company has introduced a swathe of new features to the system as part of the update, like its budding gameplay streaming platform, Beam.

Anyone who has already installed Skype on their Xbox One should find that the app updates to the UWP version automatically. If you don’t already have the app, it’s available now via the Xbox One app store.

Skype boss to lead Motorola Solutions software unit – John Pletz Technology Blog

Motorola Solutions has hired a Microsoft veteran as its first head of software.

Andrew Sinclair, who has been leading Skype, joins Moto as the maker of police radios and dispatch equipment looks to put more emphasis on software and services. Last year, Motorola spent $1.3 billion on four software and service acquisitions and stepped up its hiring of coders.

“Today, we estimate Motorola’s software business is less than 10 percent of revenues, primarily centered in 911 answering centers and first-responder command centers,” Raymond James analyst Tavis McCourt wrote in a research note today. “We can only presume the company will continue to be acquisitive on this front.”

Sinclair, who lives in Seattle, was at Microsoft for nearly 12 years before joining the team at Skype, which Microsoft acquired.


Moto got some other good news last week: It’s a partner with AT&T in the contract to build FirstNet, a nationwide network for public safety designed to allow different departments and agencies to communicate.

AT&T declined to say much about the 25-year, $46.5 billion deal to build out a dedicated, secure broadband network for emergency communications. The idea, approved by Congress in 2012, grew out of problems first responders encountered during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks when different emergency departments were unable to communicate with each other.

Since then, police and other emergency workers have taken advantage of smartphones, which took off a decade ago. But they’re using the same networks as the public, which are insecure and often unreliable during emergencies.

Motorola is expected to play a role in FirstNet providing capabilities, such as push-to-talk, that would allow devices such as smartphones using cellular LTE technology to communicate with traditional radios used by police, fire and other emergency workers. That’s one of the reasons Motorola is beefing up its software capabilities.

Motorola has been talking for years about the advent of public-safety LTE, which would bring smartphone capabilities to handle real-time video and other technologies. But it’s been a slow journey. The biggest benefits to Motorola likely will come from selling new equipment, software and services for its customers who will use the new network or others like it. (States could opt out of FirstNet.) Last year, public-safety LTE accounted for about $140 million of Motorola’s $6 billion in total revenue.

It remains to be seen whether the rollout of broadband and open-source technologies that has disrupted the traditional phone, television, music and other communication businesses will weaken Motorola’s core business of selling handheld radios and other equipment to first responders. In its recent annual report, Motorola notes that “FirstNet’s stated intent (is) to reduce handset prices.” It also said: “New technologies such as voice over LTE or push-to-talk clients over LTE could reduce sales of our traditional products. The shift to smart public safety and the prevalence of data in our customer’s use cases results in our competing in a more fragmented marketplace.”

Investors aren’t worried. The stock is holding steady at about $85 per share, just shy of a 52-week high set Jan. 25.