The Era of Simultaneous Translation is Upon Us–Futurum Tech Podcast

On this week’s Futurum Tech Podcast, we’re diving deep into real time, face to face translation technologies, which are becoming reality faster than you might imagine. We’ll break them all down and share our thoughts on the impact to businesses, governments, and consumers. Plus, what can you expect from Android phones in 2020? Pandora’s creepy hear it, say it, buy it feature and the even creepier AI based killer robots that we are, yes, we are building. Plus Apples’ Chinese woes and how you can get Samuel L. Jackson to tell you what time it is anywhere in the world if you have an Alexa device. All of this and more on this week’s edition of FTP, the Futurum Tech Podcast.

Our Main Dive

The era of simultaneous translation is upon us. In our podcast today, host Olivier Blanchard is joined by fellow analysts Shelly Kramer and Fred McClimans for a discussion about simultaneous translation, exciting new functionality that mobile devices are going to be affording, and what the future of conversations is going to look like — especially on Android devices.

Our Fast Five

We dig into this week’s interesting and noteworthy news:

  • New Features Coming to Android Phones in 2020 are Pretty Cool
    Spinning off of the simultaneous translation conversation, Olivier provided a recap from the recent Qualcomm Snapdragon Summit and a look at some of the new features coming to Android phones in 2020. For a deeper dive on that, you can check out his comprehensive article on that here: Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Summit, Day 2—First Thoughts About the Snapdragon 865
  • Pandora Launches Interactive Voice Ads
    As consumers become more comfortable with voice search and voice commands (thanks Siri, Alexa, Google Home and others), Shelly was intrigued by the news of Pandora launching interactive voice ads. Listening to a spot and want more information, say “Yes.” When you extrapolate that out, and think about how it can quickly become possible for brands to use voice technology to reach consumers wherever they are and to create interactive voice-driven experiences—well, it’s pretty interesting to think about.
  • Amazon Kicked off Its Celebrity Voice Program for Alexa
    Speaking of voices, want your Alexa to feature Samuel L. Jackson? Well, for just .99 cents, you can. Thanks to Fred for the laughs here, as we debate which iteration of Jackson might be the most interesting.

  • Killer Robots Aren’t Regulated, Yet
    Killing in the Age of Algorithms is a new NY Times documentary that explores the future of artificial intelligence and warfare. We can always count on Shelly to bring the uplifting. Weapons powered by AI aren’t the future, they are already here. That software that allows you to unlock your phone with your face? It’s being used in machine guns … self-firing machine guns that use object recognition software to identify targets – and they get more accurate the more you use them.
    Back to the documentary, which is an overview of how software is transforming the warfare technology we already have. In addition to those self-firing machine guns, we have armed drones that can hang out in high skies on the lookout, until it sees either an enemy radar signal or something else it recognizes by way of AI, and then crashes itself in the target. Russia has developed a tank that drives itself, and there are machine guns outfitted with facial recognition software. There is no crew and it’s a fully robotic system that operates in automatic mode. The manufacturer reports that they recently signed a contract to sell 132 units to the Russian Ministry of Defense, and the first nine will be delivered next year.
    And while we aren’t (yet) in a time when we’re seeing artificial general intelligence (AGI), which would be robots operating a bit like what we saw in the Terminator movies, some experts say that’s inevitable. Read the full NYT article about the documentary here.
  • Huawei Sales Soar, Company Now Owns 42% of Chinese Smartphone Market
    So, who wants to buy an iPhone in China these days? Well, nobody. In spite of (or perhaps because of) the blacklisting and tensions between China and the United States, Chinese consumers are showing how they feel with their wallets. That could be why Huawei’s sales have skyrocketed, with the company now owning a whopping 42% of the Chinese smartphone market.

Tech Bites

For the Tech Bites portion of our podcast, we talked about Facebook, again. This time we explored the news that a thief stole payroll data from someone’s car that contained personal information on thousands of Facebook employees. We want to feel bad about this, but hey, it’s Facebook, who doesn’t seem to feel badly when any of our data is compromised. Note to employees everywhere: Never, ever, ever leave a laptop or other device in your car. It’s just common sense.

Crystal Ball: Future-um Predictions and Guesses

In the Crystal Ball section of the show we circled back to simultaneous translation and talked about when we think we’ll see this technology in action. Hint: Not long!


Olivier Blanchard: Welcome to this week’s edition of FTP, the Futurum Tech Podcast. I’m Olivier Blanchard, senior analyst with Futurum Research. And joining me today, are Principal Analyst Shelly Kramer and Senior Analyst extraordinary Fred McClimans. How you guys doing? Shelly first.

Shelly Kramer: Could not be better. Thanks.

Olivier Blanchard: Awesome. How about you Fred?

Fred McClimans: I’m doing well. Apparently a step behind Shelly in everything today, but that’s okay.

Olivier Blanchard: We’re always a step behind.

Fred McClimans: We’re always a step behind Shelly.

Shelly Kramer: I was going to say it.

Olivier Blanchard: So I have gotten used to that.

Shelly Kramer: No comment.

Olivier Blanchard: Yeah. So about the show, we’re going to start today’s show with a discussion about a major I think civilization inflection point that you may or may not be aware of and it’s related to technology of course, and we’ll have a discussion about some of its ramifications. So this is going to be a little bit different from what we usually do.

Then we’ll share some of our favorite tech news stories of the week and our Fast Five segments followed by Tech Bites in which we highlight one of the biggest tech related fails of the week. And we have a really good one this week and we will end the show as usual with our Crystal Ball. But before we begin, as always, it goes without saying that this show is intended for informational purposes only and no advice or insights provided here today should be taken as investment advice.

Without further ado, our main topic of the day. So you may not be aware of this or you may not necessarily, and I’m talking about our listeners, not us on the show. You may not be aware that we have entered a new age in human civilization, the age of simultaneous live boy’s translation. And it’s funny because Google made an announcements today I think as we record this, that it’s interpreter app or service is now available on all Android phones or most android phones anyway, and we’re going to get into some of the features that this offers and also some of the limitations as well. But last week as I was in Sunny war Maui for the Qualcomm Snapdragon Summit. I actually saw a demonstration that blew the doors off, whatever Google is making available today. And we will talk about how that particular demonstration really kind of changes the game and makes Google’s announcement today a little bit lackluster.

But before I get to the details of that, I just want to kind of frame this conversation for everybody real quick. About a hundred years ago, the big technology for communications and to link the world together was the telephone. We moved from the telegraph to the telephone and suddenly we could hear each other’s voices from very large distances.

And so it seems that at the beginning of the 20th century, we were just dealing with basic connection, just connecting people by voice. Then fast forward a few decades towards the end of the 20th century. And we have two things happening. On the one hand we have the Internet, which connects people through data and images and videos. So not just through voice and also we get the beginning of the cell phone era where phones are disconnected from the wall, they’re not wired into a plug anymore. You can carry them around and talk to whoever you want from your car, from the street, from the store, from school, et cetera.

So those are kind of like the two inflection points, the initial connect, wired connection, and then the wireless and then the expansion into data. And in the last 20 years we’ve watched the Internets and that wireless communication merge into what we know now as smartphones. But in terms of communication, we were connected, but we weren’t necessarily communicating super well. There was still a language barrier and translation services have been kind of haphazard and mostly focused on the written word. Well jumped to today and what we have now through very sophisticated smartphones, I’m sorry, actually not iPhones. Particularly in the Android space from the chipsets… Fred is laughing. From the chip sets to the software and the AI becoming increasingly sophisticated on the chipsets. We’re now able to do simultaneous voice translation.

That kind of emulates what we saw in sci-fi movies, especially like Star Trek series, The Little Communicators, right? You go to a foreign planet and everybody speaks English where everybody seems to be speaking English, anyway, we’re pretty much there. So-

Fred McClimans: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Olivier Blanchard: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy guide to the galaxy, Pack Towel. So we have two products right now that are kind of debuting this week. On the one hand we have this Google interpreter app, which is basically through the voice assistant. And essentially what you do is you turn it on and you tell Google that you want to translate something in Spanish or Italian or German or whatever. Then you speak your sentence and your sentence is recorded or captured, it goes up into the cloud, computers process it, bring it back and then come out with the translation of what you just said through your phone for the other person to hear.

And it’s pretty awesome and it’s really great if you’re in a foreign city and you need to be able to talk to a cab driver or police officer or first responder even. You can kind of have your phone translate stuff. Two issues with that though. One, it’s not exactly real time. It takes a little bit of time to actually kind of go out and then come back. So there is a little bit of lag, which is okay, but also you need a connection to the Internet. It happens in the cloud, it doesn’t happen on your device. But still, it’s pretty great and it’s pretty exciting and everybody’s kind of looking forward to using that on their next trip. But what I saw last week, what Qualcomm demoed at the Snapdragon Summit as a feature of its new Snapdragon 865 chipset, which is basically going to be on some premium phones, presumably in 2020 is the real thing.

It is a live real time translation. So say you make a phone call with somebody, I could call somebody in China right now. And if they don’t speak English and they don’t speak Chinese, I can speak in English, they will hear my voice in Chinese live, they will respond in Chinese and I will hear them in English. And so it’s actually simultaneous. The most amazing thing about this is it doesn’t actually have to go out in the cloud. It’s actually done on the chip. It’s done in the device. So we’re there and that is nuts.

So now that I’ve had this really long winded, but I needed to set this up because I’m just kind of blown away and not everybody’s on the same page as I am with this yet. Now you guys are, I want to kind of get your reaction and your insight into what this actually means. So what this means for business, what this means for travel, what it means for how world citizenship, possibly, how this opens, breaks down barriers, opens borders or not. So ladies first is always, so Shelly, go ahead. What are your first thoughts?

Shelly Kramer: Well, I think it’s just so exciting. I remember I was in China last year and I was having a really rough life. I was getting a pedicure with two of my pals. And it’s funny because they happened to be a gay couple and one of them was my client and one of them was his significant other. And I was sitting in the middle of them and these young Chinese girls who were giving us pedicures were so fascinated by us because they thought at first that I was a mate of one of the guys. And then when we tried to explain, oh no, no, no, no, no, it’s not me, it’s them. And they were so fascinated, but the guys knew a little bit of Chinese. They live in Hong Kong and we were quickly using our phones to translate and come up with phrases and words and it’s clunky and also traveling throughout Europe if you’re somewhere, you don’t know the language, all that stuff happens. So the thought of being able to happen in real time, not having to go to the cloud on the device, like that’s amazing. That’s so exciting.

Olivier Blanchard: Yeah, it is. And by the way I think at this point you have to make a phone call. So it’s not like you could hold your phone up. That’s the irony of it. You could be standing in front of somebody, but you would have to kind of call them on their phone to be able to use this feature right now. So it’s not super useful in like live situations yet. But yeah.

Shelly Kramer: But knowing the possibility and seeing that, especially too, when you’re immersed in an event, as I know you have been at the Qualcomm event the last week. It is so when you walk away and you go, oh my God, this stuff is so amazing And so it really does kind of hang around for a while, but yeah. That’s really cool. And think about what a point of differentiation this is can potentially be.

Olivier Blanchard: I think so.

Shelly Kramer: The devices that have, but I don’t want to be an Android user. I’m sorry.

Olivier Blanchard: Ah, but okay. I mean that’s kind of why I laugh when I said iPhone instead of smartphone earlier, because I don’t think this is coming to iPhones yet anytime soon. I mean, this was very specific to-

Shelly Kramer: Android.

Olivier Blanchard: Yeah. So it might take two to three years to get to the Apple ecosystem. I don’t know. We’ll see.

Shelly Kramer: Fred, I know you’re all over this, Fred just can’t wait, come on Fred.

Olivier Blanchard: You look like you want to say something. Go for it.

Fred McClimans: Hang on. Let me translate what I’m about to say first into something, so a couple of quick things here on this. Flashback, three or four years ago, Skype right about the time that Microsoft engulfed Skype was working on a real time translation tool that they actually demoed in some capacity on Skype, I believe. And if it’s not Skype, I apologize. In the sunset years, sometimes I forget things, but what they were doing with that was literally using Skype as a way to translate what somebody was saying on the other end of the call to you in real time or close to real time. That was supposed to come into a product. It never quite made it there. However, Microsoft does have a product that I’ve been using for at least a year and a half, almost two years now. Microsoft Translate on the iPhone. And what it allows me to do is to have an iPhone connection to another person in front of me with their phone or multiple people in front of me.

I speak and what I say in real time is translated onto the screen of their iPhone. They respond to me in their language. And that is translated to me in my language in turn. So can I have a conversation? Absolutely. Is it relatively close to real time? Yeah, it is. It works better when somebody has an earpiece in so that you don’t get confusing conversations in play. But we’re getting there and this capability has been there for a while. What’s really exciting now is overcoming those performance limitations when you start to get to the point. And I agree, the Google announcement, they’ve had this on their Google home for a bit, but not on the Android or on the iPhone yet. It’s really things like the Qualcomm on the chip processing that really allows you to get to real time processing.

That coupled with advances in AI and the ability to kind of not just translate normal language but translate language perhaps in context or translate language into a different voice, into a different person. And this is, by the way, there’s also initial sort of deep fakery coming into play here, that we’ll talk about in one of our Fast Fives. But I think this is a phenomenal move. I think it’s going to scare a lot of nationalists people that are very protective of their culture. Not to put anything on the fringe, but I can see France saying, hey, this is great, but you can only translate it into French.

The possibilities here, this is really one of those opportunities where technology can be used for good, where we can actually break down barriers, bridges, silos, whatever you want to call it out there between disparate groups of people, different cultures, and really allow a conversation that has a different level of perspective and not be forced into what can somebody tweet back and forth or send a message on Facebook and text somewhere. So I think this is phenomenal. I’m very excited about where we’re going with this technology.

Shelly Kramer: Well, it’d also be interesting to see what the quality of it is because, and maybe you saw some demos of that Olivier, but I know you like me have been at events and we’re a presenter is speaking in another language and you have the headset on. And I mean, sometimes staying awake is the hardest thing and it’s like, I really, really want to know what he’s saying, but this is so hard to listen to. And just because it’s sort of monotonous and it’s not presented in any compelling way whatsoever. So it’ll be interesting to see how that translation capability works.

Fred McClimans: I did a keynote in Columbia down in Carta Hana a few years back and it was translated into Spanish and I don’t know much Spanish, but I knew enough to know when they would get it right and when they didn’t which is interesting because there is that whole aspect of whose language are you really translating? I had years ago, somebody from Europe, they were visiting the US and they wanted me to take them out to buy something. And the way it was put to me was, can we seduce you to take us to the store?

Shelly Kramer: And you said, I’m easy. You can seduce me to do anything. Oh, no, wait. I did not, I meant to just think that in my head. I’m so sorry.

Fred McClimans: Yes.

Olivier Blanchard: That happens.

Fred McClimans: So it was interesting because they were very good English speakers, but there’s that cultural dynamic, societal change, influences, new nuances, new catch phrases that make their way in. And that’s where I think the power of AI, the power of some of the NLP software out there to provide context around things and to keep us up to date since the more people who use this, the greater sample size we’ll have. And we’re at that point now where the sample size isn’t in thousands, it’s in millions or hundreds of millions. So if we can overcome that contextual aspect, I still wouldn’t use it necessarily in politics or in business legal conversations all the time.

Olivier Blanchard: Right. And that’s the thing. So at this point it’s very imperfect, right? It’s going to screw up and there’s going to be so many different colloquialisms depending on the language that, yeah. Like can we seduce you to go to the store is a typical type of misapplication of language for that kind of stuff.

Fred McClimans: Sometimes.

Olivier Blanchard: Yeah, French, like English is actually a pretty easy language, but French is very complex.

Shelly Kramer: Of course.

Olivier Blanchard: There’s, since we’re talking about the French. But I think for nationalists this is actually good because if you never have to hear a foreign language again, because whenever you discuss things with other people, you hear them in your own language, this is great. It’s kind of like you can’t like learn English or whatever if you’re an American nationalist, it’s not going to be an issue anymore. So I think this actually helps. And I think it’s really interesting to think that maybe our kids might be the last generation to ever really need to be bilingual. Obviously English is my second language and if I were born on this date, by the time I got to high school, it’s entirely possible that I might not need to learn a foreign language at all. I could just use technology to speak to other people in different countries so-

Shelly Kramer: That makes me kind of sad.

Fred McClimans: I wonder if it will have a translation feature into Esperanto.

Olivier Blanchard: Oh, that that would be ironic. All right, cool. So I think we’ve kind of gone around with this one, but just know that it’s out there. Know the difference also between some of these translation and inter interpreter apps. There’s probably going to be a whole wave of them coming and just understand the difference between the ones that do it simultaneously, and not simultaneously the ones that require connection to the cloud. And the ones that don’t. And definitely look for that particular feature of being implemented on Android premium, especially Android phones as early as next year. Just because the chipset, the Snapdragon 865 has the ability to do this, doesn’t mean that it will actually be implemented by the OEMs like Samsung or APO or Xiaomi. So be on the lookout for that in the feature thing. All right, so that’s it for our main topic today. And now let us jump to our fast fives. So I’m actually going to start with Fred today. Fred, what do you have for us in the tech news of this week?

Fred McClimans: Yes. Well, I am going to leverage the theme that we’ve been talking about here and translation and blend it a bit with AI deep fakery, however you want to call it. And of course, because everything today has something to do with Amazon. I’m going to throw a little Alexa in there as well. On your smartphone as I do on mine when you talk to whether it’s Siri or Assistant or Google Home, you have a choice of the type of accent you would like somebody to have. Is it a male? Is it a female? What country are they from? Well, Alexa is taking that one step further. They are going to, for 99 cents, allow Alexa to be trans morphed into Samuel L. Jackson.

Olivier Blanchard: Yes.

Fred McClimans: So this is the first of a part of celebrity packages that they’re going to be offering. They have put Samuel Jackson into a sound booth and recorded him saying all sorts of various things to get the tone, the texture, the phrasing of his voice.

Because realistically, while you can ask Alexa question, have Samuel Jackson respond? I’m just a little bit of a letdown for everybody. It’s not a personal response. It’s technology. It’s not Samuel Jackson quickly responding to your command or request. But this is really kind of interesting because we’ve talked about this capability with deep fakes in the past, the ability to mimic somebody else’s voice, and now we’re to that point where the technology is here where you can capture enough data points around a person so that you can replicate the sound and the texture and the cadence of what they would say as well as potentially some context around the type of language they might use in responding to something. Think about bundling this with the main dive that we talked about today. The ability to do real time translation. Every person that you meet could be Samuel L. Jackson on the street.

Olivier Blanchard: Right. Well it’s funny because I just watched the demo of these live avatars, like little cartoonish avatars that you can use in whatever podcast and meetings or virtual meetings or whatever. For whatever reason, I still don’t understand why people do this. But if you don’t want to have your face like actually be on video, you can have these little cartoonish characters take your place and they use the computer’s camera or your devices camera to move with you and replicate your emotions. I could see the same thing happening with voice.

I mean, if you can change your appearance in a meeting, why would you not have a voice avatar to also kind of play around with that. But my main question would be, is there a setting like an NSF setting, especially in Samuel Jackson, so you can have like the family friendly Samuel Jackson and then they full on Samuel Jackson.

Shelly Kramer: Oh, SJ, option.

Olivier Blanchard: I want that.

Shelly Kramer: SJ full on. Yeah. That’s interesting.

Fred McClimans: That is kind of interesting because if you think about the difference between Samuel Jackson in an Avengers movie versus Samuel Jackson as Jules in Pulp Fiction.

Olivier Blanchard: Exactly.

Fred McClimans: You could get a very different type of response. And to be honest though 99 cents for Sam Jackson to kind of respond to Alexa, hey, that’s great, but I’d pay 5.99 to have Jules from Pulp Fiction response to me.

Olivier Blanchard: I want to be abused by Sam Jackson?

Fred McClimans: Yeah.

Olivier Blanchard: On my device. All right, Shelly, what do you got for us?

Shelly Kramer: I’m going to talk about Pandora, speaking about voice, Pandora’s testing a new type of advertising that allows listeners to respond to an ad that they hear by speaking aloud. Okay, so think about that for just a minute. So in this new series of ads, listeners, you’re prompted to say yes, after the ad asks a question and a tone plays and then the ad offers additional information about the product or the brand. Some of the advertisers that are now testing this include really important brands like Doritos and Wendy’s and “Hey, I’m really hungry, I need some Doritos.” But to me what was so fascinating is when I’m in the car, so I have almost 14 year old twins. When I’m in the car, I mean, they’re listening to really crappy pop music that plays the same song every five songs. I know you know what I mean.

Or I’m listening to NPR and a lot of times when I’m in the car, I’ll hear something and I’ll think, oh, that sounds really interesting. I need to remember that. And the chances of me actually, because there is no interactivity when you’re listening to a radio. The chances of me actually grabbing my phone later or going to my office and remembering whatever it was I heard that I was interested in, that I wanted to explore more of a preps by whatever those moments are lost. So I think that this can be the beginning of something for marketers and advertisers. That’s really pretty cool. And a way to perhaps, we’re talking about Pandora right now, but maybe we could see a resurgence of the implications of this in radio advertising, in even TV advertising, if there’s this interactive component that’s available for consumers as they hear, that can be a game changer. So I thought it was pretty interesting.

Olivier Blanchard: Yeah, I’m glad they’re making it kind of interactive now as opposed to just surveillance and back. I mean, it’s already kind of doing this. It’s just, never mind. I’ll just leave that for another conversation for another day. But yeah, no, it does sound cool. And if I were still in marketing I would be very interested in playing with that for clients for sure. Okay. So my fast five is basically focused again, just because I came back from the Snapdragon Summit and there was just so much to talk about. So much cool stuff. I just want to mention really quickly some of the new features that are coming to phones, presumably in 2020 and specifically premium Android phones. Okay. So this might not be features that you will see on $400 to $500 price range, brand new smartphones, but on the kind of premium headliners for all the major brands of Android phones.

You might see some of these come up. So again, the Snapdragon 865 chipset, which is going to be the tip of the spear in a mobile technology is going to support all of these features. So grab some pencils, grab your pens, write this down, and probably don’t buy a phone until the phone has this. So number one, the camera, because as we know, it’s the most important thing on your phone. This new chipset is going to support up to 200 megapixel photo capture. So just yes, 200 mega pixels on your phones. I don’t think anybody’s actually going to implement this next year. I think what we’ll see for sure will be 100 to 120 megapixel cameras and sensors. I don’t think we’ll see the 200 yet, but it is capable of handling that. Also 4K video at 120 frames per seconds.

Your phone will be able to capture, I repeat 4K video at 120 frames per second. And also 8K video at 33 frames per second, which is pretty phenomenal. Dolby vision is also coming to select premium Android smart phones in 2020. Dolby vision for video capture, which is kind of a professional feature now coming to phones. Also, if you like to take slow mo video, you will have the potential for unlimited true native 960 frames per second slow motion capture. So look for phone cameras that actually implement this. Again, just because the chipset is capable of handling it doesn’t mean that OEMs will implement this feature on their phones. Also HEIF supports for a Google dynamic depth for bat.

So this is kind of cool. What this does is when you take a photo, your camera will actually kind of map the depth of basically all the elements of the image and we’ll save that in the image file so that you can later come back in and adjust the depth of field as opposed to taking a photo with an SLR where you actually have to adjust the depth of field manually.

You can go back and do it later in post, which is really cool for a smartphone. And also semantic segmentation, which is going to create a lot better definition for images. So all this stuff is coming to those phones. Also a much bigger 3D fingerprint sensor. So right now if you have a phone that has a 3D kind of ultrasonic sensor for your fingerprint and it’s right on the screen, the problem with it is that it’s very, very small. Now it’s going to take up about a quarter of the screen, so you’ll have a lot more surface area to do that. A huge power savings of 35%. AI is going to be up to 15 TOPs now. If you’re not familiar with TOPs, it is a nice acronym that stands for a trillion operations per second. So your smartphones will be able to handle 15 TOPs, which is crazy.

And also in terms of AI, the camera, which becomes a passive sensor for a lot of these cameras will actually be operating at less than one milli Watts. So almost no power consumption. Even though the is active while passive, technically just waiting to be triggered. Connectivity wise you will be able to enjoy up to 7.5 gigabits per second download speeds with your phones of course Wi-Fi 6 which is blistering fast as well. These phones will have carrier aggregation and dynamic spectrum sharing, which if you’re a connection nerd you will understand what that means.

If you’re just a regular consumer don’t worry about it but it just means your phone will work everywhere, super well with pretty much 4G, 5G bands, millimeter wave, sub six everything. And gaming wise if you are a mobile gamer, which we probably need to have a discussion about this on another show because it’s, I think the year of mobile gaming is next year.

I think it really starts officially. And the numbers for this are super huge. So Fred looks very happy on my screen. So let me give you like a couple of specs. The Snapdragon 865 chipset will support 120 frames per second gaming on your phone. Will also support 144 Hertz display, yes, that’s right. So we’ll have to talk about power consumption because I think you’re going to need a special battery pack to handle those specs if you play that one on your phone.

And also this is really cool updatable GPU drivers, which is something that wasn’t really available on phones up until now. So all of that to say there’s actually, there’s a lot more than this, I’m just giving you like top line features and specs that I came back with. But smartphones are going to, or premium Android smartphones are about to get crazy, crazy good next year. So if you’re on the fence about buying a phone and your budget is actually on the high end, so you’re not looking for a mid-range phone, I would wait another six to eight months to see what comes out and that’s it.

Okay, so let’s go to Shelly for Fast Five number four. I’m sorry that was not a Fast Five, that was a Slow Five but it was worth it. All right Shelly.

Shelly Kramer: I’m just like sitting here and thinking about like you sitting there listening. Oh my God, this is so cool. Oh my God.

Olivier Blanchard: Oh I know, this is why I go to this things.

Shelly Kramer: Yeah. So I’m just laughing thinking about that. And then I’m watching Fred’s face over here and between the two of you, please give me break.

Olivier Blanchard: Little voice.

Shelly Kramer: All right, so-

Fred McClimans: I’m a more of a gamer.

Shelly Kramer: I’m going to talk about AI and warfare and there is a New York Times documentary out called Killing in the Age of Algorithms and it explores the future of AI and warfare. And so the reality of it is, and I think probably most of us in our normal everyday life don’t think a lot, spend a lot of time thinking about weaponry and advancements in weaponry that technology have afforded. But weapons powered by AI aren’t really the future.

They’re already here. And so that software that allows you to unlock your phone with your face, hey, it’s being used in machine guns, in cell firing machine guns that use object recognition software to identify targets.

And oh, by the way, those machine guns get more accurate the more you use them. And so another thing that the documentary covered was it’s an overview of how software is transforming the welfare technology we already have.

So in addition to those cell firing machine guns, we have armed drones that just hang out in the skies that are on the lookout and they might see, there’ll be programmed to see like an enemy radar signal or they might be programmed to see something that they recognize by way of facial recognition technology and then they’ll crash themselves into the target. And Russia has developed a tank. No, actually it’s not Russia I can’t remember what country it is, but the manufacturer has developed a tank that drives itself and the machine guns in the tank are outfitted with facial recognition software. There’s no crew, it’s fully robotic, operates in automatic mode.

And the manufacturer who was interviewed in the course of the documentary reported that they’d recently signed a contract to sell 132 tanks to the Russian ministry of defense. And the first nine of those will be delivered in the next year. So if you’re interested in technology and especially actually if you happen to be my dad is kind of a geek about all things related to warfare, but if that happens to be something that’s interesting to you, find this documentary.

Again, it’s called Killing in the Age of Algorithms. And by the way, the New York Times is doing some really, really cool stuff with their documentaries. But while we aren’t yet at a time where we’re seeing artificial intelligence that is along the lines of what we saw when the Terminator came out, when robots then had minds of their own.

One of the things that this documentary explores is that there are many experts who say this is, certainly isn’t happening now, but that it absolutely is inevitable. So it’s really cool. I thought it was really cool and I’ll include a link to the article about the documentary here, but definitely check it out if that’s something that interests you.

Olivier Blanchard: See if the Terminator had been a true story, the First few victims of the Terminator, the wrong Sarah Connors would not have been killed because facial recognition.

Fred McClimans: Well, so just kind of along those lines of that, the ability to actually match a weapon to an owner is one thing. The ability to have something target an individual because they matched the facial recognition the test here, that’s a bit scarier. And just sort of as a side note, there was an article just yesterday, a group of researchers went on sort of an AI facial recognition testing binge and they were able to on three different continents, fool to mobile payment systems, a Chinese border checkpoint and a passport control gate at Amsterdam’s Schiphol. Is that how you pronounce it?

Olivier Blanchard: Schiphol Airport?

Shelly Kramer: But you know what they couldn’t fool?

Fred McClimans: Apple’s face ID.

Shelly Kramer: The iPhone.

Fred McClimans: Yes.

Olivier Blanchard: Oh boy, here we go.

Shelly Kramer: We’re reading the same stuff. Yeah. Shut up Olivier, just go ahead.

Olivier Blanchard: I know you and your propaganda, it’s fine.

Shelly Kramer: Anyway, I read that same article. It’s very interesting. All right. We got to keep moving along Fred.

Fred McClimans: So yes. To wrap out or close out the fast fives here because we just mentioned Apple and because we mentioned iPhones and whatnot, I’m going to just talk about iPhones for a moment here. And this is actually sort of an interesting, not surprising situation that Apple is finding itself in China. Credit Suisse has done an analysis on information from Chinese ministry of industry and information technology data just out. And apparently they are seeing the iPhone sales struggling to the point where they had a 35% year over year drop in November of 2019. So that’s a big number, 35% drop. They are now not just behind Huawei in the country. Huawei by the way, is now experiencing 66% annual growth and owns 42% of the Chinese market. Apple is now still behind Huawei, behind a Vivo, OPO Xiaomi. They’re at the bottom of the tank here.

And it is interesting to note that there are a number of seasonal things. There are factors surrounding when the iPhone 11 was introduced and a whole bunch of issues here, but what they’re also seeing in China is something that we’ve kind of seen in reverse in the US that patriotic movement, the buy American. In China, it’s by Chinese. And if you’re going to play that game, a country with 320 million people versus a country with three times that, well, guess who’s going to win that battle there? So it’s kind of interesting that despite everything that we’ve seen going on with Apple trying to make inroads into China, that market just consistently appears to be more and more closed to US technology, and in particular here in this case to Apple technology.

I’m not expecting Apple to really recover much moving forward to your specialty with a lot of the technology that’s coming out in the Android line. It will be interesting to see if Google and others Microsoft and others are given permission by the US to start selling software and technology to Huawei again in the near future here. If that happens I think Apple can probably just kind of write off most of the Chinese market for the next five years.

Olivier Blanchard: Okay. Well that does it for a Fast Five. That was pretty good. Not very fast, but definitely a good five.

Fred McClimans: I was fast.

Shelly Kramer: Enough for you, you were actually.

Olivier Blanchard: Yeah, I know. I just had to add like, yeah, actually that was pretty good.

Fred McClimans: Thank you.

Olivier Blanchard: I’m the only one who systematically is never fast. Okay. So I will try to be fast with our Tech Bites, which is our favorites tech failure or tech related failure the week. And in this particular instance, it’s actually a human failure, but it’s tech related. There was a car break in apparently in which hard drives unencrypted hard drives, I might add, of some 29,000 current and former employees of Facebook were stolen. And from a worker’s car, apparently a payroll worker’s car and those hard-drives contained-

Shelly Kramer: Was it multiple hard drives or one hard drive that contained all this information?

Olivier Blanchard: It’s, drive is plural. I don’t know how many, but yeah.

Shelly Kramer: Interesting, okay.

Olivier Blanchard: So, I don’t know, like this bag of hard drives unencrypted. It included payroll data, like the names bank account numbers, last four digits of their social security numbers. So, yeah, it’s pretty bad. It’s a pretty bad failure. The fact that they were not encrypted and that they were just stolen out of a car. It’s just ridiculous. So a slow clap.

Shelly Kramer: Well, I will tell you this though. My husband works for a fortune 100 company and he taught me this a long time ago. Like just things that sometimes you don’t think about. Never ever, ever, ever, ever leave a device, a laptop in your car, especially if it’s your company’s. I mean he has always said like I have so much responsibility for any information that’s on this and totally encrypted. He said, it doesn’t matter where him and he can be going to taking clients to a football game or whatever else. And if he happens to have his backpack and his laptop, he’s taken it wherever he goes. And it’s just something that you can’t ever make the mistake of not doing. It’s just too dangerous.

Fred McClimans: I agree. That’s like the number one rule. Second only to the real number one rule. Never get into a land war in Asia.

Shelly Kramer: Thank you.

Fred McClimans: Obscure princess bride reference there. But-

Olivier Blanchard: It’s true.

Fred McClimans: To me what’s interesting here, there are a number of things. First off, Facebook has said, Hey look, we’re sorry, 29,000 employees. We’re going to give you a couple of years of free ID monitoring. Big FN deal. Sorry.

Shelly Kramer: Not what everybody gets when you data is stolen.

Fred McClimans: I know. The second thing, they didn’t notify employees right away. There was a gap of time here. And third, I will point out that as soon as you start to get into, well, the theft of data, this is going on for some reason I just started thinking about the Watergate break-in. Maybe it’s the political climate we’re in right now, but I’m sorry, the coincidence of an employee just having to have these drives with this unsecured data in a vehicle at a particular place. And they left and there happened to be a smash and grab something just doesn’t sound right to me.

Shelly Kramer: Oh, I totally, I don’t think about that at all. I think that it could just be a boneheaded move and somebody wasn’t thinking and it happened and I could very well be wrong, but the skeptic or the jaded part of me says you know what Facebook, you’ve dicked around with our data on so many times and so many instances and you do not care. So you know what, it’s really hard and I know these are 29,000 probably great employees, but back at you people.

Olivier Blanchard: That’s cold.

Shelly Kramer: I’m sorry. I’m cold.

Fred McClimans: Smack.

Shelly Kramer: I think it’s a culture thing too, maybe at Facebook that if you don’t care about your user’s privacy, maybe you don’t really care about, or if their data anyway, maybe you don’t really care about the employees either.

Fred McClimans: To Shelley’s point. That’s exactly why I think there’s the possibility that this was something that somebody internally found out a piece of information and grabbed something here and they said, look, if this is exactly it, this is back at your Facebook.

Shelly Kramer: May be, it would be. Yeah, absolutely.

Olivier Blanchard: It would be. You and your conspiracy theories. But yeah, no, I’d like nothing would surprise me at this point. So you’re absolutely, it’s very possible. And we finally reached the almost the end of the show in which we focus on the crystal ball and see if we can predict the future. As analysts we’re sometimes able to do that. And as always, I’m going to circle back to original topics. So since we talked about translation and ubiquitous translation, when do you guys think that we get to a point where we can have let technology can enable live face to face real time translations? Kind of like you have your device on you, the other person has their device on them, they sync and you’re able to talk through a Bluetooth device or accessory and they hear you in their language and vice versa. When do you think that actually, what year do you think that actually becomes mainstream?

Shelly Kramer: Gosh, that’s a tricky one. And I do think that it’s going to be not as far in the future as we might think. I don’t know, 2025. I mean, all of it’s predicated on device and you know what I’m saying? I mean, people are holding onto devices longer and I can have this device but you probably won’t because you’re a loser. And so we will be able to do it. And no you’re not. You’ll have a divisive, but you’ll have Android and I’ll have an Apple. But you know what I’m saying? So there are so many variables in there and I feel like, to me, in my world personally, 2025. Five years from now is a really long time in technology years. But all of those other things factored in. I think perhaps that’s my guess.

Olivier Blanchard: Yep. How about you Fred?

Fred McClimans: Well, I’ve got the soundtrack from Beck’s album running through my head now. Thank you Shelly. Loser, I know dating myself in that genre of music.

Shelly Kramer: Now it’s in my head.

Fred McClimans: Yeah, there you go. I’m going to move it up a bit because you mentioned have that conversation, the Bluetooth device and so forth. The Bluetooth device really is just an extension of the phone.

Olivier Blanchard: Remember I said mainstream, not when it becomes available.

Fred McClimans: I know.

Olivier Blanchard: Okay.

Fred McClimans: But the fine mainstream consumer adoption moves faster.

Shelly Kramer: Us.

Fred McClimans: Yes, us. Consumer adoption of technology moves much faster than it used to five, 10 years ago.

Shelly Kramer: Especially in Asia.

Fred McClimans: Yeah. The fads, everything, it’s there. Everybody buys it. Six months later, the God, it’s useless technology. I wish I hadn’t bought it, but by and large, that’s true. The second thing to consider is that this technology is making its way into our smart today. So yes, we’re waiting for Snapdragon and we’re waiting for some baked in features there. But the reality is I can have that conversation reasonably well using Microsoft technology on my iPhone or Google technology today. It’s not quite as frictionless as we would like. So I think it’s actually much sooner. I think it’s probably 2022 when this really hits and becomes useful in the marketplace. It’s not that far away from where we are today. This I what I’m saying, I just don’t think it’s that far.

Shelly Kramer: What do you Olivier.

Olivier Blanchard: I don’t disagree. So I’m trying to think of an actual timeline here. So 2020 is when it reaches some premium smartphones. I think it finds its way to the mid-tier. Realistically 2022 so it’s probably going to take two years to get down into like the $400 price range. Let’s throw in another year for the implementation-

Fred McClimans: Well, what’s what price range? It’s an app. It’s an app on the phone.

Olivier Blanchard: No. Well, no because the AI capabilities on the SOC, on the chip have to be kind of more on the high end and the stuff that we’re seeing for the mid-tier is going to be four to six tops. So I’m thinking like there’s a big difference between 1546. So I don’t know, I’m just being conservative in my estimates and I still think that Silicon companies are going to try to kind of position the premium tier chipsets with premium features that they don’t necessarily want to bring into the mid-tier just yet because the mid-tier is getting really, really good. So I’m being conservative and hey, it’s my Crystal Ball. Get off my Crystal Ball man.

Shelly Kramer: Wow.

Olivier Blanchard: So, now realistically I think 2022 we start seeing it in the mid-tier here, give or take a year for some OEMs to implement a really cool slick solution. Possibly even Apple when it comes out with its version of this, maybe with its goggles becoming kind of a heads up display and device that you can take with you on your travels.

Shelly Kramer: 2023-ish.

Olivier Blanchard: 2023-ish. And so I think it really truly becomes mainstream. Yeah. Sometime 2024, 2025. So I kind of agree with Shelly.

Fred McClimans: So I’m going to break the fourth wall here.

Shelly Kramer: And hurry because we’ve been here a long time people.

Olivier Blanchard: Oh yeah.

Fred McClimans: So I’m going to throw this back over to our producer Marty. Marty, you listen to this, you understand what’s going on here just give me a nod. What year do you think this is going to come into play from your perspective? And more importantly, when would you buy this technology and use it for real time translation.

Shelly Kramer: And before you answer, remember who’s responsible for paying your invoices? I mean, no pressure.

Fred McClimans: We have one of the best producers in the world out there.

Shelly Kramer: We do, Marty McPadden with PodJam Productions.

Marty McPadden: Oh man. I think I’m an Apple guy, full disclosure. I think you’re selling Apple way too short. Whoever mentioned the goggles, I think there’s a master plan out there. I think you’re going to see AI. I think there’s even with voice with AirPods and AirPods Pro or that whole thing, I think you’re seeing the big… It always takes Apple a number of years ever long roadmap. I think you’re seeing the beginnings of it. And I think you’re going to see the end of the symphony through the three years.

Shelly Kramer: Kind of three year, three?

Marty McPadden: Three, 2023.

Shelly Kramer: 2023. Okay.

Fred McClimans: Thanks Marty.

Olivier Blanchard: Yeah, those are all good choices. So, okay, well thank you. And as the residents non-Apple user on this podcast I’m going to going to close it out, so that does it for this week’s edition of FTP, the Futurum Tech Podcast. Thank you so much for listening for another week and as always, hit that subscribe button if you haven’t already, and catch us next week for another round of news and analysis at the intersection of tech and business. And in the meantime, have a great week everybody.

Disclaimer: The Futurum Tech Podcast is for information and entertainment purposes only. Over the course of this podcast, we may talk about companies that are publicly traded and we may even reference that fact and their equity share price, but please do not take anything that we say as a recommendation about what you should do with your investment dollars. We are not investment advisors and we do not ask that you treat us as such. 

Image Credit: Training Journal

Author Information

Olivier Blanchard has extensive experience managing product innovation, technology adoption, digital integration, and change management for industry leaders in the B2B, B2C, B2G sectors, and the IT channel. His passion is helping decision-makers and their organizations understand the many risks and opportunities of technology-driven disruption, and leverage innovation to build stronger, better, more competitive companies.  Read Full Bio.


Latest Insights:

On this episode of The Futurum Tech Webcast – Live! From the Show Floor, Craig Durr welcomes Sam Kennedy, Senior Director, Product Marketing for Crestron Electronics for a conversation on Crestron’s latest announcements at Zoomtopia 2023.
A Review of The Major Announcements and Takeaways at the MWC23 Las Vegas Show Including Big Moves by T-Mobile, Nokia, and Ericsson
The Futurum Group’s Ron Westfall and Todd R Weiss explore the top takeaways from the MWC23 Las Vegas show, including Nokia’s Network as Code debut, the launch of T-Mobile SASE, and Ericsson’s support for open fronthaul across its Cloud RAN/radio portfolio.
Veeam Acquires the Cirrus BUaaS Platform and Is Initially Targeting Microsoft 365 and Azure
Krista Macomber, Senior Analyst for The Futurum Group, discusses Veeam’s acquisition of the Cirrus BUaaS platform and the implications for the BUaaS and SaaS protection marketplaces.
Nokia Debuts Its Network as Code Platform Aimed at Accelerating CSP Network Programmability and Monetization by Spurring Broader Developer Support of APIs
The Futurum Group’s Ron Westfall examines why the new Nokia Network as Code platform and developer portal can deliver the much-needed catalyst to ensure CSPs play an instrumental role in the B2B digitalization ecosystem.