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Apple Acquires Feelings, Microsoft R Update, 2016 Predictions: Big Data Roundup
February 12, 2016 Blog big data

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Apple is getting emotional. The company has acquired a startup that claims its facial recognition software can read your feelings. Meanwhile, Microsoft gets ready to update its R strategy, vendors offer their 2016 big data predictions, and more. Here’s our big data roundup for the week ending January 10, 2016.

Apple is snapping up startups that aim to understand the data of emotion. Nvidia is making progress with its autonomous vehicle projects. Microsoft is getting ready to update its R statistical modeling language strategy. Avnet will be offering more training on big data. And vendors are offering their own predictions for big data and analytics in 2016. Whew. It’s been a busy week in big data, and we have all that and more for you here. Starting with the Apple news.

Apple has acquired a San Diego-based startup called Emotient, a company that specializes in emotion recognition products. The company offers an application programming interface (API) to enable real-time emotional analysis of positive, negative, and neutral emotions based on cognitive science, machine learning, and computer vision.

How exactly does it do that? It measures 28 facial action units, including eyebrow raises, nose wrinkles, lip curls, jaw drops, wide smiles, and nostril flares. It also detects so-called microexpressions, such as flashes of disgust or contempt.

According to its website, by mining large data sets of facial expressions the company can find patterns and sometimes predict the way people will react to given stimuli.

Key performance indicators include attention, engagement, and sentiment.

Apple’s newest acquisition fits a recent pattern of startup buys by the maker of the iPhone and Siri personal assistant. In November 2015, the company bought Faceshift, a specialist in facial recogniation and rendering technology. In October, Apple acquired Perceptio, which has developed deep learning and AI capabilities, which could be added to Siri.

Nvidia is has unveiled DRIVE PX2, a tablet-sized computing system designed for in-vehicle artificial intelligence. The chipmaker announced the news on the eve of this week’s 2016 CES Expo in Las Vegas. The new system leverages the company’s DriveWorks software suite and deep learning on Nvidia’s graphics processing units (GPUs) to create 360-degree situational awareness around a car. The software suite includes tools, libraries, and modules designed to aid development and testing of autonomous vehicles.

Microsoft this week has not officially announced any updates about its plans for R and its Revolution Analytics acquisition of last year. But there’s been plenty of noise in the market that something is coming, possibly as soon as next week. Microsoft is expanding its support for server platforms beyond Windows to include Linux, Hadoop and Teradata for the enterprise version of its R server. Looking for the full story? Check back with InformationWeek next week.

Twitter is a veritable breeding ground of data, and if you want to get really meta about it, there are many, many interesting data scientists, analysts, and other data practitioners who use the platform and tweet about interesting things all the time. InformationWeek has collected 10 of our favorite Twitter accounts along these lines. Of course, this list of ours is by no means exhaustive. And we’d love to hear about who you follow, too.

One of the big pain points in implementing big data programs has been a shortage of qualified talent. To help fill that skills gap, distribution giant Avnet this week announced plans to acquire ExitCertified, a provider of IT training in North America. Training courses include those in “high growth areas including big data, cloud, and security, along with converged and hyper-converged solutions,” said Mike Hurst, senior VP of Avnet Global Services, in a prepared statement.

It wouldn’t be the New Year without a host of stories and slideshows about predictions for the 12 months ahead. We’ve published some of our own, of course. But we also wanted to point out Oracle’s big data predictions for 2016. These include some interesting ones, such as “DIY Gives Way to Solutions” and “Data Virtualization Becomes a Reality.”

Hadoop distribution company MapR’s CEO and co-founder also weighed in with a set of predictions about the year ahead. According to the company, CEO John Schroeder believes the industry is in the midst of the biggest change in enterprise computing in decades, and he sees an acceleration of big data deployments. Here’s how he thinks those trends will manifest in 2016.