• “Hey Siri, file my taxes”
  • For sports and music fans, Apple’s latest VR acquisition is incredible news
  • We already have a smartphone… Are we ready for a smart toilet?

Dear Reader,

I’d like to thank all the readers of The Bleeding Edge who joined me last night for my State of 5G Summit. I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to tune in.

During the event, I showed investors why COVID-19 isn’t slowing down the 5G wireless rollout. On the contrary, COVID-19 has been a catalyst for 5G wireless technology. With so much of the world working remotely, the world needs 5G speeds now more than ever.

And I also showed attendees those 5G speeds in action. 5G wireless speeds in Washington, D.C. – where the event was held – were in some cases more than 100 times faster than the average speed of today’s 4G networks.

I remember when I first published research on 5G back in March 2017. I’m sure some readers were skeptical of the technology’s promise.

But now we have undeniable proof. 5G is very real. And it’s everything investors like us could have hoped for.

To make things even better, the best 5G companies are now trading at “bargain” valuations thanks to the recent market volatility. This is simply too good a setup to pass on. For anybody who missed the presentation, you can access it right here.

And please check in tomorrow to read The Bleeding Edge. I’m going to be sharing some incredible data from Johns Hopkins concerning COVID-19. It is nothing like what we are hearing in the press and should give us great optimism about the weeks and months ahead.

Now let’s turn to today’s insights…

Get ready for AI-enabled digital assistants…

Another one of my favorite private artificial intelligence (AI) companies, SambaNova, just demonstrated a breakthrough that will lead to fully functional AI-enabled digital assistants. I’ll explain it with a little context…

SambaNova is developing a computing system optimized for AI algorithms. And the company has been applying its tech to natural language processing (NLP). NLP is an exciting area because it is how most humans will interface with AI… through speech using natural language.

I’m sure most readers are familiar with AI-powered digital assistants like Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, and Amazon Alexa. Until last year, these assistants were primarily good at simple tasks… like playing songs, checking the weather, and reading the news headlines.

But they haven’t been very good at having a general conversation with users. Historically, they have been a bit quirky about understanding and processing natural language.

If you have one of these devices, I’m sure you’ve experienced it. Maybe you’ve asked your Amazon Alexa a tricky question and gotten a response like, “Hmm… I don’t know that one.” That’s usually because the AI is having difficulty understanding the nuance or context of your question.

NLP is how we will get from digital assistants who can’t understand us very well to AI who can not only understand our words but also put them in context. NLP will enable AI digital assistants to perform the precise actions we want.

We last talked about this area of AI in February. That’s when Google launched its new chatbot “Meena.”

If we remember, Google trained Meena on a dataset of 2.6 billion natural language parameters. That was 8.5 times larger than any other training set it had used previously.

Weeks later, Microsoft one-upped Google. Microsoft trained its Turing-NLG on a dataset with 17 billion parameters. That was 6.5 times larger than Google’s.

And SambaNova just blew both Google and Microsoft away. SambaNova trained an AI on a language model with 100 billion parameters using its proprietary computing system. That’s more than what Google was able to do just weeks ago…

That’s how quickly things are moving in AI and NLP right now. And SambaNova was able to do it with a computing system that is roughly the size of a small refrigerator.

What’s more, SambaNova believes it will be able to run a one trillion parameter model on its system. At that level of sophistication, we’ll soon see digital assistants that are far superior to those on the market today. This is a very exciting development.

Imagine asking your AI assistant to make dinner reservations at your favorite restaurant. Or maybe you’d like it to order a birthday present for your spouse and it will assist you with the process of selection. Or how about preparing your taxes? That’s the potential of this technology.

I hope that SambaNova will remain independent and become a publicly traded company within the next couple of years. It would make for an attractive investment target.

But I suspect we won’t be so lucky…

The company just raised $250 million in a Series C VC round in February, valuing the company at an impressive $2.25 billion. That’s a massive funding round. Clearly, the investors knew that SambaNova was on to something big.

And when we look at who those investors were… Google Ventures (GV) and Intel Capital are two of the big names. That tells us both Google and Intel are possible candidates for acquiring SambaNova.

I’m hoping that doesn’t happen. This is definitely an early stage company to keep on our watchlists.

Apple’s next AR/VR acquisition is telling…

The rumor is out that Apple is in the process of acquiring NextVR for about $100 million. This will be Apple’s 11th acquisition related to augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).

What’s interesting about NextVR is that it is a live event streaming company focused on sports and entertainment. NextVR allows people to participate in live events using VR. The experience is kind of like teleporting into a live event and having a front-row seat in 3D.

For example, NextVR could place us, through our VR headset, in the front row of the NBA Finals. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to watch the World Series from behind home plate. And the Super Bowl? You could have a view from the 50-yard line.

We would have a perfect view of the competition in front of us. And we could look around and see the crowd in a jam-packed stadium. Plus, the crowd noise would be raining down on us from all directions. We’re talking about an authentic game day experience.

And this isn’t hypothetical. NextVR already has partnerships in place with the NBA, Fox Sports, and Wimbledon.

Plus, we know Apple has been spending a lot of money on its Apple TV streaming platform. Apple TV could become the portal for VR-based entertainment experiences after this acquisition closes.

So this is an exciting move by Apple. And it couldn’t be more timely, given the quarantines and social distancing taking place today because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even when sporting events do resume, we might think twice about visiting a crowded stadium. And there’s always the possibility that games will be televised only.

This would give us the chance to see our favorite teams front and center without ever leaving the comfort of our homes. I’m certain that this will be successful.

We can see what happened already with video rental stores like Blockbuster. Once Netflix and streaming services came along, the convenience factor was too high, and there was no longer any need, or interest, in going out.

This acquisition gives us insight into Apple’s strategy for AR and VR and its service strategy for using this technology to deliver content and programming to consumers.

Smart toilets will monitor our health daily…

This last topic is outside of our usual fare, but it’s too good not to talk about it. I apologize in advance for the “potty language.”

Scientists from Stanford University just put out new research on smart toilets. This was published in Nature Biomedical Engineering, which is a prestigious medical journal. Here’s the gist of it…

In the near future, our toilets will have AI-enabled sensors that can analyze both urine and stool samples. Using this analysis, the AI will monitor our health daily.

Do we have a vitamin deficiency? Do we show signs of a bad diet? Are there unwanted bacteria in our system? The AI will let us know. And it will make relevant health suggestions to us.

And if the AI sees signs of something more serious, it could notify our primary physician immediately – with our consent, of course.

This will empower our physician to begin formulating a plan of care for us before we ever step foot in a medical office or laboratory. And it could result in prescription drugs being ordered right away and sent to our homes, saving us a trip to the pharmacy.

I know what some of us might be thinking. A “smart toilet”? This must be a joke… But it’s not April 1.

This is where the world is heading with precision medicine. Individualized daily health monitoring will be a big part of the trend. For those who want to be proactive in managing their health, this will be fantastic technology.

But wait! Often several people live in the same house. How will the toilet know who is who?

Well, the Stanford research covers that too…

The toilet will identify members of the household by the distinct features of their “anoderm”… which is a medical term for a person’s backside. In other words, the toilet will have technology that will be able to biometrically confirm who is on the seat.

Kind of like a “fingerprint” for our rear end. It will be able to easily distinguish one user versus the other.


Jeff Brown
Editor, The Bleeding Edge

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