A New Look for Lab Productivity Tools

By By Joe Dysart
While artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly being applied on a massive scale to alter the very nature of how the world works, it turns out it is also very good at making everyday drudgery disappear.

And while most of us are well-acquainted with everyday apps designed to help us work more efficiently, the best of the new incarnations powered by AI have been programmed to learn over time and become ever-smarter at the everyday tasks they’re handling for you.

For example, productivity apps powered by AI are emerging that will help you come up with snappier and more personalized emails, transcribe all your phone calls into searchable text or find just the right photo that goes with the color scheme you're using for your presentation.

In a phrase, scores of productivity tools are currently being completely remade by AI. It’s a great time to take a look at what’s out there, and where the software category is headed.

"I use several AI apps to help increase productivity,” said Jordan Lothes, general manager, U.S. Optical.

Added Gregory T. Novak, chief operating officer, Rochester Optical: “I am optimistic that AI can help solve many problems.”

Here’s a representative sampling of AI tools that can help your lab:

Personalize You Emails with an AI Web Crawler

Aizimov (https://www.aizimov.com/) adds a personal touch to your emails by auto-crawling the Web for interesting insights on the people your do business with.

“All you have to put in are four things: first name, last name, email, and company,” said Jerome Devosse, Aizimov’s CEO.

After that, the software searches Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networks to bring back insights about your contacts, including their likes, dislikes and passions.

“If the guy, for example, has done a marathon, I may finish the email by saying, ‘By the way, I also did a marathon in Rome, here’s my time—how do we compare?’ to get their attention,” Devosse noted.

Aizomov also works for you after you send your email, collecting info on the types of emails you send that get the best responses, based on tone, length, content, and time-of-day sent.

Using these insights, it will put together a draft of an email the next time you want to communicate with your marathon buddy which you can use as is or customize to your own tastes.

Leverage Microsoft Office’s New AI

Stop One for millions of computer users each day, Microsoft Office (https://products.office.com) has been given an AI facelift. It will now automatically transcribe your conference calls into text and even organize that text with automatic subtitles.

Powerpoint users will also appreciate the new Powerpoint on AI, which can automatically put together a presentation after you type a line or two of text over each slide you plan to use.

And Office search is completely powered by AI, going far beyond searching for things that you’re looking for and actually gets to know how you work. The idea: The better the program “knows” you, the better search results it can bring back to you.

“Based on the user’s work patterns, the new search tool makes suggestions on content you may be looking for, actions you can take, and people you might want to connect with—all made to happen using machine learning and Microsoft artificial intelligence,” explained Jon Friedman, chief designer, Microsoft Office.

Finally, Cortana, an AI assistant that made its debut in Microsoft Windows 10, is now also integrated into Microsoft Office.

Transcribe Your Phone Conversations

Tetra (https://asktetra.com/) uses AI to translate any conversation you have into searchable text. Almost immediately after you finish a phone call using Tetra, you’ll receive a detailed text synopsis of the conversation to your inbox, searchable by keyword.

All of Tetra’s transcripts also include two-way speaker ID. So you’ll always know by looking at the text who said what.

Eva, Voicera’s A.I. assistant (https://www.voicera.com/) is another app in this genre that’s also worth checking out.

Send Out for An AI Rewrite

If you’re looking for a different take on some text you’ve just written, Spinnerchief (http://www.spinnerchief.com/) will rework it for you so you can present it from a slightly different perspective. The software has also been designed to ensure the text it produces is optimized for the search engines.

Another AI program in the same genre is Writer (http://www.ai-writer.com). Writer is designed to learn everything you need to know about a specific topic by crawling the Web and then present the results to you in a text article. The program works best when you instruct it to research an extremely narrow topic.

Index Your Photo Library With AI

Imagga (https://imagga.com/) is able to analyze your entire photo library, studying one picture at a time at blazingly fast speed and then tagging each image so you’ll be able to quickly call-up any image with a text search.

Meanwhile, Everypixel (https://www.everypixel.com/) bests the other stock images libraries on the Web by offering you the ability to find an image based on the color scheme you’re using for your ad or presentation.

Add an AI Tax Adviser to Your Virtual Staff

While most of us spend a lot of time trying not to think about taxes, Andy (http://www.andy.ai/) can’t get enough of taxes. He makes sure you get all the tax deductions you deserve by keeping a steady eye on everything do financially, 24/7.

The result: Instead of frantically trying to put together your deductions at midnight on April 14, Andy will have them all ready for you when it comes time to sit down and tell your good ol’ Uncle Sammy all about the year you had.

Andy also stays current on all the tax laws and tax changes that impact your business. And he’ll auto-prepare your tax return for you.

Have an AI Assistant Schedule Your Meetings

There are a number of AI assistants dedicated to using email to auto-schedule your meetings for you using email. Those worth a try include Julie Desk (https://www.juliedesk.com/), Kono (https://kono.ai/), Clara (https://claralabs.com/) and Hire Amy (https://x.ai).

You can also pick an AI personal assistant to your liking. Unlike task-specific AI apps, AI personal assistants attempt to handle a number of everyday tasks for you simultaneously. It’s a popular AI productivity category, so you’ll have plenty to check out.

Zoom.AI (https://zoom.ai/), for example, is designed to help organize your schedule, prepare meeting notes, handle travel logistics, search for files, order a car and more. Braina (https://www.brainasoft.com/) is designed to perform similar functions, as is Vesper (https://www.vesper.ai/#home).

Of course, as AI increasingly pervades virtually every aspect of computing, optical labs have already begun putting together wish lists for AI apps that will handle especially sophisticated industry needs.

“I would love to see Lab Management Systems start to adopt AI tools to help streamline production,” said U.S. Optical’s Lothes. “I think if done correctly, AI could help improve several aspects of lab management. For example, after a certain level of coating breakages have been posted the system could send a text/email to the department manager or maintenance tech to diagnose the issue. AI could also help predict departmental WIP levels based on the types of orders that have been entered into the LMS earlier that day giving managers a better tool for predicting workflow and scheduling their workforce.”

Added Rochester Optical’s Novak: “The ability to more deeply customize eyewear to each individual is going to become a game-changer in the next decade. While some details would be difficult to manage given many of our existing processes, the technology to cost-effectively customize various details for each patient is here or soon will be. A dream AI app would offer choices based on user data—likes/dislikes, lifestyle, income, occupation, medications, etc.—and be immediately shared with the lab. It could make the optician’s job much more powerful in providing customers with eyewear that meets their needs and desires and make the lab more efficient, too.”

Joe Dysart is an Internet speaker and business consultant based in Manhattan. Voice: (646) 233-4089. Email: [email protected] Web: www.joedysart.com.


HERO IMAGE COPY: It turns out artificial intelligence is also very good at making everyday drudgery disappear.

IMAGE 2 COPY: AI is also being used to help personalize emails.

IMAGE 3 COPY: Indexers like Imagga are able to quickly analyze and organize your entire photo library for easy access.

IMAGE 4 COPY: Scores of companies are competing to offer you their AI-driven meeting organizers.


Labtalk June 2020