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Alexa, Amazon’s ubiquitous voice assistant, is getting an upgrade. The company revealed some of these changes in a virtual event today. One of the most interesting developments is that users can now personalize their Alexa-enabled devices to listen for specific sound events in their homes.

Amazon also unveiled new features and products, including additional accessories for Ring and Halo devices, and access to invite-only devices such as the Always Home Cam and a cute home-roving, beat-boxing robot called Astro. 

Alexa’s latest capabilities are part of the Amazon team’s work on ambient computing—a general term that refers to an underlying artificial intelligence system that surfaces when you need it and recedes into the background when you don’t. This is enabled through the connected network of Amazon devices and services that interact with each other and with users. 

“Perhaps the most illustrative example of our ambient AI is Alexa,” Rohit Prasad, senior vice president and head scientist for Alexa at Amazon, tells Popular Science. “Because, it’s not just a spoken language service that you issue a bunch of requests. As an ambient intelligence that is available on many different devices around you, it understands the state of your environment and even acts perhaps on your behalf.”

Alexa already has the ability to detect what Prasad calls “global” ambient sounds or sound events. These are things like glass breaking, or a fire alarm, smoke alarm going off. Those are events that make your home more safe while you’re away, he says. If anything goes wrong, Alexa can send you a notification. It can also detect more innocuous sounds like your dog barking or your partner snoring. 

[Related: How Amazon’s radar-based sleep tracking could work]

Now, Prasad and his team are taking this pre-trained model for global sound events that they built using thousands of real world sound samples, and are offering a way for users to create alerts for their own custom sound events by manually adding 5-10 examples for a specific sound that they would like Alexa to keep an ear out for at home. “All the other kinds of data that you’ve collected via us can be used to make the custom sound events happen with fewer samples,” he says. 

This could be something like the refrigerator door being left open by kids after school for more than 10 minutes. “The two refrigerators in my home, they both make different sounds when the door is left open by one of our kids,” says Prasad. That way, even if he’s not at home when his kids are, Alexa could send him a notification if someone didn’t shut the refrigerator door properly. 

You could set an alert for a whistling kettle, a washer running, or a doorbell ringing, an oven timer going off while you’re upstairs. “And if you have an elder person in the home who can’t hear well and is watching television, if it’s hooked to a Fire TV, then you can send a message on the TV that someone’s at the door, and that the doorbell rang,” says Prasad.  

Ring can tell you the specific items it sees out of place

In addition to custom sound events, Alexa could also alert you about certain visual events through its Ring cameras and some Ring devices. “What we found is that Ring cameras, especially for outdoor settings, [are] great for looking at the binary states of objects of interest in your homes,” Prasad says. For example, if you have a Ring camera facing an outdoor shed, you can teach it to check if the door has been left open or not by providing it some pictures for the open state, and for the closed state, and have it send you an alert if it’s open. 

[Related: Amazon’s home security drone may actually be less creepy than a regular camera]


“You’re now combining computer vision and a few short learning techniques,” says Prasad. The team has collected a large sample of publicly available photos of garage and shed doors to help with the pre-training, just like with the audio component of the ambient AI. “But my shed door can look different from the shed you may have, and then the customization is still required, but now it can happen with very few samples.” 

Alexa will soon be able to learn your preferences

Last year, Amazon updated Alexa so that if it doesn’t recognize the concept in a customer’s request, it will come back to you and ask “what do you mean by that?” 

This could be a request like: set my thermostat to vacation mode, while vacation mode is a setting that’s not known. Plus, your preference for the setting could be 70 degrees, instead of 60 degrees. That’s where users could come in and customize Alexa through natural language. 

“Typically when you have these alien concepts, or unknown and ambiguous concepts, it will require some input either through human labelers [on the developer end] saying “vacation mode” is a type of setting for a smart appliance like a thermostat,” Prasad explains. 

This type of data is hard to gather without real-world experience, and new terms and phrases pop up all this time. The more practical solution was for the team to build out Alexa’s ability for generalized learning or generalized AI. Instead of relying on supervised learning from human labelers at Amazon, Alexa can learn directly from end users, making it easier for them to adapt Alexa to their lives. 

In a few months, users will be able to use this capability to ask Alexa to learn their preferences, which is initiated by saying, “Alexa, learn my preferences.” They can then go through a dialogue with Alexa to learn about three areas of preferences to start with: those are food preferences, sports teams, and weather providers, like the Big Sky app. 

If you say, “Alexa, I’m a vegetarian,” when Alexa takes you through the dialogue, then, the next time you look for restaurants to eat nearby, it will remember and prioritize restaurants that have vegetarian options. And if you just ask for recipes for dinner, it would prioritize vegetarian options over others. 

For sports teams, if you’ve said that you like the Boston Red Sox for baseball, and the New England Patriots, and then you ask Alexa for sports highlights on Echo show, you’ll get more custom highlights for your preferred teams. And if another family member likes other teams, you can add that to the preference as well. 

[Related: The ‘artificial intelligence’ in your new smart gadget may not be what you think]

“We already know customers express these preferences in their regular interactions many times every day,” says Prasad. “Now we are making it very simple for these preferences to work.” You can go through the preset prompts with Alexa to teach it your preferences, or teach it in the moment. For example, if you ask Alexa for restaurants and it recommends steakhouses, you can say, “Alexa, I’m a vegetarian,” and it will automatically learn that for future encounters. 

“These three inventions that are making the complex simple are also illustrative of more generalized learning capabilities, with more self-supervised learning, transfer learning, and few short learning, and also deep learning, to make these kinds of interactive dialogues happen,” Prasad says. “This is the hallmark for generalized intelligence,” which is similar to how humans learn. 

Alexa learns and grows

These three new features—the custom sounds, custom visuals, and preferences— are not only coming together to improve AI, but also improve Alexa’s self-learning, self-service, and self-awareness of your ambient environment. “Alexa is just more aware of your surroundings to help you when you need it,” Prasad says. Along with a feature like Routines, or Blueprints, these new add-ons allow Alexa to give more custom responses, without requiring any coding proficiency. 

Alexa automatically learns how to improve itself as you use it more. In fact, Prasad says that with more than 20 percent of defects that Alexa has, it’s now able to automatically correct through no human supervision. “If it did something wrong and you barge in and say no, Alexa, I meant that,” it will remember that for the next time you ask for something similar, he says. 

In his case, sometimes when he asks Alexa to play BBC, it registers what he says as BPC. “For an AI, simple is hard. Occasionally it recognizes ‘play BPC.’ But it recognizes usage patterns,” Prasad says. That way, it can fix the request automatically without asking every time, “did you mean BBC?” 

[Related: If you’re worried about Amazon Sidewalk, here’s how to opt out]

“This is the type of automatic learning based on context in both your personalized usage and cohort usage that Alexa is able to be much smarter worldwide and try to estimate defects and correct automatically without any human input,” says Prasad. “If you look at the old days of supervised learning, even with active learning, Alexa will say ‘this is the portion I am having trouble with, let’s get some human input.’ Now that human input comes directly from the end user.” 

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Applications Of Ai And Big Data Analytics In M

Have you heard about the idea of monitoring health with the help of mobile devices?

It is related to the term m-Health that makes use of m-Health apps along with AI and Big Data in healthcare. Owing to the surge in the usage of smartphones and other devices, people have started interacting with doctors and hospitals differently. You will realize there is an app for every task right from managing doctor’s appointments to maintaining records.

At this juncture, where every business is fighting hard to appeal to the interests and goals of the customers AI and big data are redefining the healthcare industry. In this blog, we will take a look at the applications of AI and big data and how it has revolutionized the entire healthcare system.

Let’s begin:

AI in Healthcare

AI in healthcare relates to the usage of machine learning algorithms and software to mimic human cognition that aids in analysis, presentation, and understanding of complex data.

Right from detecting links between genetic codes, putting surgical robots to use, or maximizing hospital efficiency, AI is a powerful tool to streamline the healthcare industry. Let’s see what AI has to offer to healthcare:

1. AI Supports Decision Making

Healthcare developers and professionals must consider a crucial piece of information for app development and diagnosis. They go through various complicated unstructured information in medical records. A single mistake can have huge implications.

AI in healthcare makes it convenient for everyone to narrow down the big chunks of information into relevant pieces of information.

It can store and organize these large chunks of information and provide a knowledge database that can, later on, facilitate inspection and analysis to draw meaningful conclusions. This way, it helps clinical decision support, where doctors can rely on it for detecting risk factors.

One such example of AI is IBM’s Watson that predicts heart failure with the help of AI.

2. Chatbots to Prioritize and Enhance Primary Care

People tend to book appointments even at the slightest of medical issues, which often causes chaos and confusion. Later on, there are usually discovered to be issues that could be taken care of by self-treatment. Here AI can be of great use to enable smooth flow and automation that facilitates primary care. It will help doctors to focus more on critical cases.

The best example is medical chatbots that can save you from medical trips to doctors that could be easily avoided. Chatbots when incorporated with smart algorithms can provide patients with instant answers to patient queries and concerns.

Also read: Top 3 Lessons I Learned from Growing a $100K+ Business

3. Robotic Surgeries

A combination of AI in healthcare and collaborative robots has helped achieve desired speed and depth in making delicate incisions. These surgeries have been given the name of robotic surgeries that eliminates the issue of fatigue and helps in lengthy and critical medical procedures.

With the help of AI, one can develop new surgical methods from past operations that will help gain more preciseness. This accuracy and precision will surely reduce accidental movements during the surgeries.

The best example of robotic surgeries is Vicarious Surgical, which combines virtual reality with AI-enabled robots. The purpose of developing such robots is to help surgeons perform minimally invasive operations.

Another great example of AI in robotic surgery is the Heartlander. It is a miniature mobile robot aimed to facilitate heart therapy. The robot is developed by the robotics department at Carnegie Mellon University.

4. Virtual nursing assistants

Virtual nursing assistants are another example of AI in healthcare that can help in providing excellent healthcare services by way of performing a range of tasks. These tasks include addressing patient queries, directing them to the best and effective care unit, monitoring high-risk patients, assisting with admissions and discharge, and surveying patients in real-time. The best part is that you can avail the services of these virtual nurses 24/7 and get instant solutions to your problems.

When you explore the market, you would realize many AI-powered applications of virtual nursing assistants are in use. They help facilitate regular interactions between patients and care providers that save the patients from unnecessary hospital visits. Care Angel is the world’s first virtual nurse assistant that facilitates wellness checks through voice and AI.

5. Accurate Diagnosis of Diseases

AI in healthcare can surpass human efforts and help in the detection, prediction, and diagnosis of diseases quickly and accurately. Have a look at the specialty-level diagnosis, here AI algorithms have proven to be cost-effective in the detection of diseases like diabetic retinopathy.

PathAI is a machine learning technology that helps pathologists in determining the issues with more accuracy. It aims to reduce errors in cancer diagnosis and develop methods for individual medical treatment.

Also read: Best CRM software for 2023

Big Data in Healthcare

Big data in healthcare is essential to handle the risks involved with hospital management that can improve the quality of patient care. Moreover, it can also organize and streamline the activities of the hospital staff. Apart from this, there’s a lot that big data has to offer, let’s see how it can help:

1. Monitoring patient vitals

When it comes to the usage of big data in healthcare, it is helping hospital staff to monitor the records and other vital information about patients and encourages them to work efficiently.

The best example is the usage of sensors besides patient beds that keeps an eye on the patient’s vitals like blood pressure, heartbeat, and respiratory rate. Any change in pattern is quickly recorded and the doctors and healthcare administrators are alerted immediately.

Apart from this, Electronic Health Records (EHRs) are also a part of big data in healthcare that includes critical information about the patients.

It includes medical history, demographics, and results of the lab test, and more. The records consist of at least one modifiable file that can be edited later on by the doctor on noticing any further changes or updates without any danger of data duplication.

2. Streamline the Administration

Big data in healthcare has also helped administrative staff streamline their activities. It helps gain a realistic view of activities in real-time.

They get insights into how resources are used and allocated that will let the administrative staff make substantial actions. They may try to streamline activities like overviewing surgery schedules and coordinate with more precision, cutting down resources wasted, and reduce the cost of care measurement.

It will help the hospital management to provide the best clinical support, and manage the population of at-risk patients. Moreover, doctors and other medical experts can also use big data for proper analysis and identify deviations among patients so that they can receive effective treatments.

3. Big Data for Fraud Prevention

We all know medical billing is prone to errors and waste owing to the complexity of medical procedures and endless options available in healthcare services. These errors may include wrong medical billing codes, false claims, wrong dosage, wrong, medicines, wrong estimation of costs for the healthcare services provided, and more.

Also read: Top 7 Best ECommerce Tools for Online Business

4. Offers Practical Healthcare Data solutions

Hospitals and other administrative staff can store a wide range of data systematically. The data provided is organized and facilitates further analysis.

It may include a healthcare dashboard for the hospitals that give a big picture of things that are going around. Right from the attendance of the hospital staff to the cost incurred on every treatment you have the access to all the crucial aspects.

Doctors and other healthcare practitioners can use the data to draw meaningful conclusions and reach an informed decision.

If we look at the bigger picture the AI and big data are going to have a vital role to play in the healthcare sector. Predictive analysis is one thing that the industry hasn’t explored much, but yes we can see the growth in most mundane areas like patient care, waste management, and inventory.

We all are expecting change and AI and big data will be one of the major forces that will bring that change

Is Amazon’s Dome Headquarters The Workspace Of The Future?

Amazon’s Domes

In addition to three high rise office buildings, Amazon’s new corporate headquarters will also include dome-shaped structures, right in the middle of one of Seattle’s busiest neighborhoods.

In the Denny Triangle section of downtown Seattle, one of the city’s fastest growing neighborhoods, Amazon’s new corporate headquarters is starting to take shape.

Amazon Tower I, a 37-story office building also known as Doppler, opened in December of 2023. A nearly identical building, Amazon Tower II, is projected to be finished in September, and Amazon Tower III (see a pattern emerging?) will be completed by decade’s end. Though these towers will forever change the look of Seattle’s distinctive skyline, another one of Amazon’s construction projects seems to be getting all the attention: the spheres.

Nobody’s really even sure of what to call them, and Amazon hasn’t yet committed to a name. Around the web, I’ve seen them referred to as biospheres, biodomes, bubbles, globes, spherical buildings, giant spheres, epic-looking glass spheres…you get the picture. When they’re done being built, the three intersecting spheres will give the company’s employees 65,000 square feet of green space in which to walk, talk, lounge, eat lunch, conduct meetings, brainstorm, and do whatever else it is Amazon employees do.

The Seattle-based architecture firm, NBBJ, intends for the spheres to be the “new visual focus and ‘heart’” of Amazon’s headquarters. Amazon unveiled the design in 2013, thereby scrapping a prior plan to put a six-story rectilinear office building in that location. And though the spheres are still far from complete—when I visited, crews were working on the steel exoskeleton—the structure is already fulfilling its promise to be the area’s visual focus.

Building Amazon’s Domes

The domes, still under construction, are starting to take shape.

From blocks away, the spheres draw the eye. Their bold curves contrast sharply with the straight lines of the surrounding architecture. I wasn’t the only person to take pictures of the work in progress or simply gaze at it from the sidewalk. Even Amazon employees seemed to admire the spheres, though one might expect them to have gotten used to the sight by now.

What remains to be seen is whether the spheres will become the “heart” of Amazon’s headquarters, as NBBJ intends them to be. By gathering, assessing, and implementing data much like its notoriously data-minded clients, the multinational company has positioned itself as the firm de rigueur of the tech industry.

The architects behind the domes’ design have relied on the idea that more sunlight and plants could lead to better productivity. NBBJ

Researchers have looked into this connection. One study showed that workers performed better when plants were added to their office space, and another one found that people who worked in an office with windows performed better on certain tests and had better overall sleep than those who worked in a windowless office, or didn’t have access to a window. By creating an environment that optimizes sunlight, allows for trees to grow to full height, and simulates “montane ecologies found around the globe,” Amazon wants to give its employees a better chance at coming up with the next Prime, Kindle, or Echo. But a question remains: Will they visit and use the space voluntarily?

I’m not convinced. For Samsung’s headquarters in San Jose, the same architecture group, NBBJ, came up with a very different design from what you see in Seattle, and one that’s also supposed to foster collaboration. The ten-story, square, donut–shaped building will encourage employees to move between floors—something people don’t typically do on their own— because they’ll be within eyeshot of peers both above and below them.

Apple is also betting on the donut. Campus 2, set to open in late 2023 or early 2023, will occupy a staggering 176 acres of Cupertino real estate. The four-story ring will add 2.8 million square feet to Apple’s holdings and accommodate 12,000 employees.

Of course, it’s much easier for a company to spread out in suburban California. What sets Amazon apart is its decision to build in an urban setting, so close to downtown, with all the inherent constraints. There really is nowhere to go but up. And though I doubt employees will often leave their towers to stroll inside the spheres, I applaud the radical mark the company has decided to make on Seattle’s architecture.

A mockup of what the domes are set to look like when they are finished. NBBJ

American companies have long used skyscrapers to announce and symbolize their ascendancy. The Chrysler Building, Bank of America Tower, and yes, Trump Tower are more than just places where people work; they’re landmarks. Growing up in the Chicago suburbs, I was captivated by the Sears Tower. I knew nothing of Sears’ financial woes, or of the retailer’s former glory. All I knew was that on a clear day, it was rumored you could see Wisconsin from the observation deck.

I can imagine a kid connecting with Amazon’s spheres in a similar way. They’re alien but organic, futuristic but right there in front of you. And like all urban architecture, they bear scrutiny. To compare, the best photographs of Campus 2 were taken only last month, and from a drone. Sure, Apple’s donut will prevent leaks, but security comes at an expense. Campus 2 will not lead much of a public life. Meanwhile, Amazon is trying to be part of the neighborhood.

Acting as an unofficial member of the Denny Triangle welcoming committee, I entered Doppler on a Tuesday afternoon. Ascending the escalator to the lobby, I took in the building’s sleekness, its newness. Passing an empty waiting area and help desk, I turned the corner and found myself at Doppler’s security checkpoint. Employees swiped their badges; sliding glass partitions let them through. From where I stood, I could see a coffee shop, just out of reach. It was the end of the line. If Amazon’s spheres are meant to signal an era of transparency for the notoriously secretive company, they’re illusory. Doppler is proof of that. Like an ornery neighbor with a sign on his door, it sends the message: No Trespassing.

How To Learn New Skills With Amazon Alexa

You already use Amazon Alexa to check the weather, control what music you listen to, hear the news, and much more. However, what if you could use this handy assistant to teach you things? You can learn from Amazon Alexa from the comfort of your own home. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn to play an instrument or speak another language. You can do both of those and more.

Adding Skills to Alexa

Before getting into what you can learn, you need to learn how to add new skills (things Alexa can do) to Alexa. There are three easy ways to enable any new skill:

1. With your voice – Say “Alexa, enable” along with the name of the skill. If you’re not sure what to add, ask Alexa to recommend skills. If you don’t know the name of a skill, it’s easier to browse using one of the other two methods.

3. Alexa app on your smartphone – Open the menu at the top left and choose “Skills & Games.” Search or browse for what you want. Tap “Enable to use.”

1. Learn to Play Guitar with Alexa

Even if you’ve never touched a guitar before, Amazon Alexa can help. Let Alexa guide you through how to form different chords. Get help with tuning your guitar and maintaining a tempo. You can even ask Alexa for the chords to your favorite song. Some of the best skills to enable include:

Guitar Chords – Teaches guitar chords

Rock Out Loud – Teaches chords, helps with tuning, and helps find chords for popular songs

Guitar Learner – Teaches more common chords

Guitar Teacher – Teaches notes and chords along with tuning

Four Chords – Learn common four-chord songs (great for beginners)

Guitar Tuner – Helps tune your guitar

Guitar Backing Tracks

– Plays background tracks for your practice sessions

2. Learn a New Language with Alexa

Wish you could speak a second or even third language? Learn from Amazon Alexa. Using Alexa is actually highly effective since you get to hear the words and phrases and practice at your own pace. It’s a good idea to also write down what you’re learning so you can easily review after each lesson. Depending on the skill you choose, you’ll pick from dozens of languages. Some of the best skills to use include:

Daily Dose – Learn any of 34 languages in free eight-minute daily lessons (a premium version is available)

Translated – Learn by asking Alexa to translate phrases into a chosen language

Learn Spanish SpanishPod101 – Learn Spanish one word at a time

Chineasy – Learn Chinese

Language Tutor – Learn Italian, French, Spanish, and Australian English

3. Learn to Cook

Best Recipes – Name three ingredients you have and get recipe ideas

Allrecipes – Get a wide variety of recipes

America’s Test Kitchen Daily Cooking Q&A – Get daily tips and tricks (Echo Show users get weekday videos, too)

Instant Pot

– Great guidance for Instant Pot users

The Bartender – Make thousands of amazing drinks

Ingredient Sub – Learn what to substitute and how

4. Get Smarter

Do you love trivia? Want to learn more about history and current events, even if you’re short on time? Continuing to learn something new is a skill that helps your mental health, improves your confidence, exercises your brain, gives you things to talk about, and helps you crush it on trivia night. You may even discover a new hobby or interest in the process. Besides, some of the most productive and successful people devote time to learning new things each day.

Amazon Alexa helps with skills such as:

5. Relax Through Meditation

Meditation is often a hard skill to master, but you can learn from Amazon Alexa. Even if you only do it five minutes a day, you’ll reduce your stress. Plus, with a clearer mind, it’s easier to learn other skills. Use these Alexa skills to help you:

6. Master Fitness

You don’t always want to go to a gym to exercise, but you still want to learn how to get fit. Become a fitness guru just by asking Amazon Alexa to help. Get step-by-step guidance to help you learn how to exercise at home, even if you don’t have any equipment. It’s fun, easy, and there aren’t any judgy people watching. Try these skills to see for yourself:

7. Learn to Play Piano with Alexa

Guitar not quite your style? Learn how to play the piano from Alexa instead. Learn the basics and start playing songs quickly. All you have to do is follow what Alexa says. These skills will help you start playing right away:

Piano Teacher – Basics lessons and drills

Piano Teacher With Echo Show Integration – Echo Show isn’t required, but offers visible lessons as well as audio lessons

Chord Whisperer – Learn the notes in different chords. (Learn notes in the other skills first.)

Of course, when in doubt, just ask Alexa how to learn a particular skill. Even if Alexa can’t teach you directly, she just mau be able to set you on the right path. If you need more skills, here are some “must-have” skills you should enable for Amazon Alexa.

Crystal Crowder

Crystal Crowder has spent over 15 years working in the tech industry, first as an IT technician and then as a writer. She works to help teach others how to get the most from their devices, systems, and apps. She stays on top of the latest trends and is always finding solutions to common tech problems.

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Update: The Strange Moves And Big Mistakes Of Oneplus’ Debut

Still, the employees at OnePlus are probably fairly busy right now, putting out virtual fires or whatever it is manufacturers do when things go wrong.

So what did OnePlus do wrong? How did they go from the darlings of Chinese tech world to arguably its most controversial in about a week, before its first product even launched? How have they managed to burn through so much goodwill so quickly?

First, lets talk about how they got to a point where them messing up their launch is a major story. You could say that, to a certain extent OnePlus has been a victim of their own success.

Hype, Leaks and an Unfortunate Familiarity

Unfortunately, hype is a double edged sword. When leaks of the OnePlus One started coming out and the device looked quite a bit like Oppo’s Find 7, the tower of hype they had built fell back on them.

Worse still, the “leaks” appear to be coming from the Chinese division of the company themselves. Showing a possible skism developing within the two branches of the young company.

The Appearance of Arrogance and Free Stuff Gone Wrong

Then there is, of course, the invite debacle.  While the OnePlus is undoubtedly popular for what it is, the fact is, it still is a brand new company launching its first phone. In this case, the road to hell seems to be paved with good intentions. OnePlus seemed to be realizing that its manufacturing capabilities are not yet prepared to meet the expected demand. An invite system could seem like a reasonable way to prevent a situation where people who ordered their phones are waiting months to get one.

What it ended up appearing to be was an arrogant move where a company has to deem you worthy of it taking your money. Such a strategy might work for a company like Google, but it left a sour taste in the mouth of fans of OnePlus. OnePlus would have probably been better off having a limited number of presale units, and letting it sell out quickly. That isn’t the end of OnePlus’ missteps, however.

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With OnePlus Ones already in short supply compared to its expected demand, OnePlus came up with an idea that probably seemed fantastic in a meeting room somewhere: Host a contest that rewards its most loyal fans, the ones that make up its community message board. Sight unseen, it seemed refreshing. Rather than opening it up to any Twitter or Facebook user that wants to win a “weird” new cell phone, the message board contest rewarded those that have been following OnePlus since the beginning.

While the Chinese language forum had QR codes to give forum members access to the contest without broadcasting all over Weibo, the English version of the forum  relied on a number of posts being hit in a particular thread on the forum. Winners at the 5,001 post, 10,000th post and 50,000 post would win a OnePlus One (plus minor prizes for other posts).

What happened next is open to some debate.

[Update: A previous version of this post stated that OnePlus deleted a complaint thread, they instead merged the posts onto another 

: A previous version of this post stated that OnePlus deleted a complaint thread, they instead merged the posts onto another topic . The post has been updated with the necessary corrections]

According to OnePlus’ version of the events, Multiple posts started showing up as the winning posts as the backend of OnePlus’ board couldn’t handle the high volume of posts.

OnePlus recalculated the posts, adding posts that were deleted before OnePlus disabled deleting within the thread and completely screwing up the count. Suddenly people who had thought they had won for days found out that they had not won anything afterall.

This understandably led to hurt feelings and accusations of cheating. It is hard to figure out exactly what happened here. One user got in contact with us with screens of his winning post that was moved 72 posts down the line, the same is said to have happened to the poster of the 10,000th poster as well. The current winner of the 10,000th post doesn’t even seem to be aware that he or she has won.

Unless it is the most sophisticated piece of vaporware in history, it seems unlikely that OnePlus would purposefully ruin its promotion to scam the internet out of three of the phones they themselves are creating, but that hardly matters. Their refusal to reward the previous winners as well has built up an extremely large amount of bad will among the community.

But the blunders didn’t stop there. OnePlus moved the posts into an older topic, breaking links to the complaints and creating an perception of censorship, even if that wasn’t the desired action.

I’ve never seen a company screw up giving away a product so badly.

I have reached out to OnePlus asking for a statement on the giveaway, but have yet to hear back.

The winners of the contest will be “officially” announced after the phone’s reveal. So OnePlus still has a chance to make this right, but by shuffling their feet they are only hurting themselves.

Where Does OnePlus Go From Here?

The OnePlus One is still in a fairly favorable position, all things considered.  Sure, there has been significant backlash to these very serious missteps. It might even be enough to negatively impact sales, but OnePlus still has our attention. In business, infamy is better than anonymity. If the OnePlus One launches on the 23rd with some killer, yet unannounced feature, then many of the mistakes of the past few weeks will be forgiven.

On the other hand, if the leaks have shown everything OnePlus has in its hands, or worse yet, OnePlus under delivers, then OnePlus still sits as a cheaper alternative/clone of one of the more popular Chinese flagship phones.

Being a Oppo knock-off manufacturer probably doesn’t match the ambitions of the OnePlus brass, but they will be starting with a huge amount of press and larger companies have started with humbler beginnings.

This Wednesday should be an interesting one for fans of Chinese tech.

What’s New In #Socialmedia? 10 Updates From January 2023

January has come and gone, and, as usual, Facebook rolled out a slew of enhancements. That said, other platforms experienced some newsworthy happenings as well.

Here is the latest from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Facebook expanded live video to all iPhone users in the US. Facebook first introduced live video in 2023, at which time it could only be used public figures. Now, it’s available to a large population of users in the United States.

Learn More: Facebook Expands Live Video to All iPhone Users in the US

Facebook launched a new tool for targeting organic posts to your desired audience. Audience Optimization is said to help make posts more relevant in people’s news feeds through being shown to Facebook users who are most likely to engage with them.

Learn More: Now You Can Target Organic Facebook Posts to Specific Audiences

According to Facebook’s Q4 earnings call, the world’s leading social network continues to widen the gap between itself the competition. Numbers are up in just about every way they can be measured — with growth in revenue, daily active users, and number of hours of video watched each day.

Learn More: Facebook Reports Over 100M Hours of Video Watched Daily, More Record Numbers in Q4 Earnings Call

Facebook’s Messenger app hit a milestone in early January as the company announced that 800 million people are using it each month. Throughout 2023, Facebook made strides to improve its Messenger app, which helped it earn the title of the fastest growing app of 2023 in the US.

Learn More: Facebook Messenger Hits 800 Million Monthly Active Users, Details Future Plans


Learn More: Seeing More Ads on Instagram? A New Report Shows the Company is Displaying More Than Ever


Although Periscope is owned by Twitter, it could formerly only be accessed through a separate app. Now, Periscope videos can be embedded in tweets and played right within the timeline of Twitter’s iOS app. Like in the Periscope app, broadcasts be replayed for up to 24 hours.

Learn More: Twitter Brings Live Periscope Videos Direct to Its Timeline

Considering the fleeting nature of communication on Twitter, 24 hours is a long time to expect people to pay attention to one of your tweets. That’s how long Twitter polls would last by default, now you can set them to run for much shorter length of time and get the opinions of your audience more immediately.

Learn More: You Can Now Run Twitter Polls Anywhere From 5 Minutes to 1 Week

Learn More: Twitter Introduces New Ad Unit For Driving Conversations With Businesses

Multiple sources who know of Twitter’s plans provided information saying that longer tweets are coming to Twitter by the end of Q1 2023. Get ready to see tweets as long as 10,000 characters, sources say, as Twitter is planning to adopt the same character limit currently in place for direct messages.

Learn More: Twitter May Be Upping Character Limit From 140 to 10,000

Upon the rumor Twitter was going to nix its 140 character limit, the company’s stock price hit a new all-time low dropping several dollars below the previous record low of $23.31. Having dropped another 14%, its stock price sat at $19.98.

Learn More: Twitter Stock At All Time Low Following Announcement of Longer Tweets

Featured image via Paulo Bobita

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