Samsung Looks to Take on Echo, Google Home With 'Vega' Smart Speaker

Today’s topics include reports that Samsung is developing a Bixby-powered smart speaker; the debut of three new Oracle open-source container tools; Microsoft’s Workplace Analytics lifting the veil on employee productivity; and the deadline for implementation of cyber-security executive order nears.

Samsung is reportedly building a voice-enabled smart speaker that will feature the company's Bixby voice-activated artificial intelligence engine in an effort to make some noise in a growing market that already has a wide range of competitors.

Samsung's plans, which were revealed recently by several people who are familiar with the project, have been in the works for more than a year, but there is not yet a specific date for the release of such a product, according to a July 4 story by The Wall Street Journal. Inside Samsung, the smart speaker project is known by the code name "Vega," the story reported, but no technical details are yet available.

The product will take on Amazon's Echo and Google Home, as well as upcoming products such as Apple’s HomePod and Harmon Kardon's Invoke.

Oracle is expanding its container efforts with the public debut of three new open-source utilities designed to help improve application container security and performance. The tools include the Smith secure container builder, the Crashcart container debugging tool and the Railcar container runtime.

Railcar is an alternative to existing container runtimes, including the runc runtime used in Docker, that are written in the open-source Go programming language. Oracle cloud development architect Vish Abrams said, "Go is a poor choice of language for a container runtime. [It] is a great language, but for small system utilities that need tight control over threads and make a high volume of [system calls], there are better options."

Adams, a well-known figure in the OpenStack cloud community, introduced the new Oracle container tools.

Workplace Analytics, Microsoft's new workforce productivity analytics tool, is now generally available, the software giant announced June 5. The tool is available to customers with an Office 365 enterprise plan as an add-on.

The offering builds on Microsoft's acquisition of VoloMetrix in 2015. The fellow Seattle-area software provider's big data processing platform monitors employee use of business and productivity applications. After applying behavioral analytics, VoloMetrix's technology provides managers and executives with visibility into the daily activities and collaboration patterns of their workforces, giving them a clearer picture of their corporate culture, along with areas that could use some improvement.

Back on May 11, President Trump signed an executive order on cyber-security, giving civilian and military agencies a 60-day deadline for reviewing cyber-security posture. As that initial deadline nears, eWEEK reached out to security experts to see what, if any, impact the executive order is currently having.

One thing most of the security experts agreed on was that the executive order is making agency heads accountable and responsible for cyber-security risk, although it does not improve or prevent cyber-security threats.

They warn that the NIST Cyber-security Framework—which the cyber-security executive order specifically states government agencies should use—is quickly becoming outdated as technology and threats evolve rapidly. They are urging the National Institute of Standards and Technology to keep the framework up to date to deal with emerging threats.