Category: General

Google Cloud introduces innovative generative AI solutions designed specifically for the retail sector.

Google has recently launched a series of new tools for retailers, harnessing the power of generative artificial intelligence to enhance online shopping experiences and streamline various retail operations, as announced by its cloud business in a recent release.

This array of new offerings includes a generative AI-driven chatbot that retailers can integrate into their websites and mobile applications. These advanced virtual agents are capable of engaging in conversations with consumers, providing personalized product recommendations based on individual shopping preferences.

Carrie Tharp, Google Cloud’s Vice President of Strategic Industries, emphasized the rapid evolution of generative AI in her statement in the release. “In only a year, generative AI has transformed from an emerging concept into one of the most rapidly evolving technologies, becoming a crucial element in the strategies of numerous retailers,” she said.

The introduction of Google Cloud’s tools marks a significant milestone in the increasing influence of generative AI within the retail sector. This trend has been gaining momentum, as evident from Amazon’s introduction of an AI tool for sellers in September and the widespread adoption of this technology by retailers during the latest holiday shopping season, often behind the scenes.

Among the innovations announced by Google is a large language model feature designed to enhance the quality of product searches. This feature is currently accessible to a select group of stores, with plans for broader availability later in the year.

Google’s suite of AI products also includes tools aimed at improving customer service systems for retailers and streamlining their product cataloging processes.

The applications of these AI tools extend beyond online platforms to physical retail stores as well, with enhancements being added to Google Distributed Cloud Edge, an existing combination of hardware and software solutions.

This announcement from Google Cloud, revealing the latest advancements in AI tools for the retail industry, comes just before the National Retail Federation’s annual convention set to take place in New York City.

Seattle-based gaming startup Charmed secures $500K and unveils a novel 3D character design tool.

Seattle’s Charmed is gearing up to release a new AI-driven game design tool this month, aimed at enabling the swift creation of 3D character models from the ground up.

The startup recently secured over $500,000 in fresh funding, with Tacoma Venture Fund leading the round.

Under the leadership of founder Jeremy Tryba, Charmed’s ambitious vision is to develop “the first comprehensive 3D AI platform,” streamlining the game design process from initial concept to a working prototype.

“Charmed is crafting tools that enhance the efficiency of 3D artists, significantly cutting down development time,” Tryba explained in a communication with GeekWire.

Charmed’s latest innovation is a three-part tool: a Geometry Generator, a Texture Generator, and a Character Animator. Combined, these allow users to generate a character model through simple prompts, apply textures for clothing and detailing, and then animate the model with pre-set motions.

These generators add to Charmed’s growing suite of tools, which includes Dream Dungeon for quickly creating isometric mazes with customizable textures, a quest generator for easy mission creation, and an AI texture generator that adds vivid skins to 3D game objects.

In a July interview with GeekWire, Tryba emphasized that Charmed should be seen as a toolkit for rapidly producing game concepts, blueprints, and prototypes, rather than a complete solution for no-code game design.

“If you come with a solid idea and creativity, our tools can help amplify your ability to create more intricate and exciting projects faster than doing it solo,” Tryba noted. “However, the quality of output depends on what you input. If the input is poor, the output will reflect that.”

Tryba launched Charmed last year after it was spun out from Madrona Venture Labs, which also provided the initial funding for the venture.

Vestwell secures $125M in funding to assist companies in enhancing workplace savings plans.

Vestwell, a provider of workplace savings program infrastructure, recently secured $125 million in a funding round termed “preempted.” Led by Lightspeed Venture Partners, the funding round included both returning investors, like Fin Capital and Primary Venture Partners, and newcomers Blue Owl and HarbourVest. While the New York-based fintech company chose not to disclose its valuation, it’s notable that Justin Overdorff from Lightspeed has joined Vestwell’s board as part of the investment.

Founded in 2016 by CEO Aaron Schumm, Vestwell launched its cloud-native platform in 2017 and has since accumulated $227.5 million in total funding. Schumm, without specifying exact revenue, revealed substantial growth to TechCrunch, highlighting a 1000% revenue increase over three years and plans to double annual recurring revenue and volume in 2023.

Vestwell, serving over a million users across 300,000 businesses, facilitates savings programs through partnerships with financial institutions, state governments, and payroll companies, profiting from monthly fees. The company offers a broad range of savings solutions, including retirement and health programs, and has notably become a dominant force in state auto-IRA savings programs, powering the majority in the US.

The recent funding will fuel further expansion of state savings initiatives, product enhancements, and potential acquisitions, as evidenced by their recent acquisition of Gradifi from Morgan Stanley. With a team that has grown significantly over the past year, Vestwell continues to build its market position, backed by its investors’ confidence and recognition as a leading innovator in the savings sector.

Medallion, a platform dedicated to enabling artists to engage directly with their audience, secures $13.7 million in funding

Medallion is carving out a niche as a comprehensive digital platform tailored for artists, providing them with a dedicated hub to promote albums, tours, merchandise, and exclusive content. The intent is to cultivate deeper connections with fans by offering a suite of tools for managing digital collectibles, early access to content, and direct engagement opportunities. The company announced a significant milestone, securing $13.7 million in Series A funding, co-led by notable firms Dragonfly and Lightspeed Faction, which underscores the industry’s recognition of the platform’s potential to revolutionize artist-fan interactions.

The platform is designed to address a growing need among artists for more autonomy and direct ownership over their relationships with fans, circumventing the complexities and limitations of third-party platforms. Medallion’s artist-centric approach is evident in its features that allow for selling of exclusive digital and physical merchandise, including innovative offerings like “Digital Deluxe” albums. This particular feature, available in the U.K., Australia, and Germany, allows artists to sell digital versions of albums complete with embedded players and exclusive media. As a blockchain-based platform, Medallion offers security and ease of use, allowing sign-ins through various wallet providers and offering a customizable, white-label space for artists to make their own.

Medallion’s strategy is not just about technology but also community building. The platform is currently used by a select group of 20 artists, including names like Greta Van Fleet and Disclosure, and is focused on expanding its reach. The team, comprised of veterans from across the tech, e-commerce, and music industries, is dedicated to refining the platform’s features and ensuring it meets the evolving needs of artists and fans alike. The company’s gradual expansion plan indicates a commitment to quality and sustainable growth, with wider availability projected for the coming years.

In sum, Medallion represents a significant shift in the music industry, positioning artists at the forefront of their digital strategy and offering fans more immersive and interactive ways to support and engage with their favorite musicians. With its recent funding and ambitious plans for expansion, Medallion is poised to play a critical role in shaping the future of artist-to-fan connections.

Intel Announces Launch of New Artificial Intelligence Processor, Challenging Nvidia and AMD

Intel recently introduced their new Gaudi3 AI chip, targeting generative AI applications. This chip, set to launch next year, aims to rival Nvidia’s and AMD’s offerings, which currently dominate the AI model market. OpenAI’s ChatGPT, for instance, operates on Nvidia GPUs. Intel’s move signifies an effort to challenge Nvidia’s market leadership, as reflected in the stock market performance of these companies.

Alongside Gaudi3, Intel also announced the Core Ultra chips for Windows laptops and PCs and the fifth-generation Xeon server chips. Both feature a specialized AI component, the NPU, for enhanced AI program execution. The Core Ultra, built on a 7-nanometer process, focuses on efficiency and can handle AI-driven tasks like Zoom’s background-blurring feature, though it’s not suited for heavy-duty tasks like running ChatGPT independently.

Additionally, these chips support more robust gaming capabilities and improved performance for software like Adobe Premier. The Xeon processors, typically paired with Nvidia GPUs, are crucial for servers used in large organizations, particularly for AI deployment.

Intel’s strategy under CEO Pat Gelsinger is to catch up with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. in chip manufacturing by 2026. This latest suite of products, including the Gaudi3, Core Ultra, and Xeon processors, illustrates Intel’s commitment to reorienting its product line towards AI applications and meeting the surging demand in this sector.

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