Tech World: Ford’s $1bn for driverless cars, Klarna buys BillPay for £60m and more

Hello, I’m Emily, welcome to Tech World,
your quick round up of the top technology news from across the globe. For this episode’s
hot topic interview, we spoke with Adrian Baschnonga from EY about smart home tech.
First though, here are your top international stories. Ford is to invest $1bn in Pittsburgh-based
Argo AI to create driverless cars. The investment will be spread over five years and will enable
Argo to expand to around 200 employees by the end of this year. Facebook launched a new feature that enables
users in the US and Canada to search and apply for jobs directly from the social network’s
website and mobile app. Companies can publish a job advert on their page as they would any
other post and users can click on an ‘apply now’ button to fill in their details. Swedish FinTech unicorn Klarna bought German
startup BillPay from UK payday lender Wonga for £60m. Klarna is one of Europe’s most
valuable private businesses, valued at $2.25bn in its most recent funding round in 2014. Samsung vice chairman Jay Y Lee was arrested
in Korea on charges of corruption. He is accused of paying bribes to an adviser of President
Park Geun-hye in exchange for political favours. Reports allege Lee gave a total of $36m to
Park’s secret adviser in order to win government support for a merger between two Samsung subsidiaries. Bill Gates has come up with a way of putting
the brakes on robots taking our jobs. The Microsoft co-founder thinks governments should
tax companies’ use of robots, as a way of slowing the spread of automation. He said
the tax money should be used to fund other types of employment that are well suited to
humans, such as care for the elderly. That’s it for our top global tech news roundup,
but keep watching to see this episode’s Hot Topics interview. We spoke with Adrian Baschnonga from EY about
the rise of smart home tech. Adrian, thank you very much for joining us
today, so today we’re going to talk about smart home devices. I know that at the end
of last year EY produced a report on this area so can you tell us a bit more about that? Yeah absolutely, we surveyed 2,500 UK households
really exploring their attitudes to content connectivity services and as part of that
we explored their attitudes to the digital home so looking at take up of technology in
the home. Overall the results are pretty positive, so we found that 34% of households are very
interested in the latest technology and gadgets and want them before everybody else and that’s
actually up five percentage points on a similar survey we conducted in 2013. But when we drill down into connected home
devices, we found that across eight different categories of connected home tech, only 19%
of households on average were willing to use or purchase these items over the next five
years. So what are the main barriers that are preventing
people from adopting this kind of technology? Well ultimately right now, it’s low levels
of awareness and the sort of practical real-world benefits of these technologies are lost on
a lot of people. You’ve also got the fact that they’re available at very high price
points – that could be putting some people off. And you’ve also got interoperability
issues – a lot of people are being pushed ecosystems whereas maybe they just want one
or two key devices that can solve real world problems. So of the devices that people are purchasing,
what’s proving most popular? Right now we’re seeing strongest traction
for things like smart heating and smart lighting services, smart security as well. And these
really reflect the fact that they’re answering a real world need – if you look at energy
monitoring, for example, that’s something that’s certainly pronounced in the minds of
consumers and you look at home security and that’s a fundamental human need. But other
categories like smart fridges, smart ovens – they’re not really resonating as yet, in
fact only 10% of households see themselves adopting these kinds of services over the
next five years. And that;s because perhaps these services are a little bit too complex,
they’re offering too many features and, again, the price points are pretty high. There are a lot of companies innovating in
this sector, but there don’t appear to be any particular market leaders at the moment.
Do you think that that’s going to continue? Yeah what’s very interesting at the moment,
because you’ve actually got more and more players entering the smart home space and
that probably works against the emergence of clear leaders right now. But ultimately
over time it’s very interesting because we may see more partnerships – you’ve got a lot
of different types of company involved in this space. You’ve got telecoms companies,
utility companies and also tech giants that are leading with their smart assistance services.
So over time a lot of the players are going to be thinking where do they need to sit in
the value chain. So we could see things shake out over the medium term. Excellent. Thank you very much for joining
us today. That’s all for this episode. To get more
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