voice control

Amazon Echo’s weirdest talent is making you feel heard

Amazon Echo’s weirdest talent is making you feel heard

Amazon’s Echo is a lot of things - shopping companion, music player, portal to Wikipedia - but its most surprising feature says more about human comfort with next-gen electronics. Echo’s cleverness is in the cloud; the black column of its local hardware is really just a gateway to that remote functionality. Yet it also has to satisfy a few core requirements, such as demonstrating attentiveness. The solution Amazon came up with is both simple and elegant.

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Amazon Echo can now control your lights thanks to Wink

Amazon Echo can now control your lights thanks to Wink

Amazon Echo, which others lovingly refer to as Alexa, is a rather odd duck. Unlike other cloud-based voice-activated assistants, you can't take it around with you, as the cylindrical contraption is rooted in your home. Until recently, it was also quite limited in the things you can do. Ironically, shopping by voice was added only later on. Now it's getting a bit more talented however, not through its own power but by hooking up with Wink. Now you can confidently say "Alexa, dim the bedroom lights" with a wink.

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Google Translate opens this fridge to give Canadians free beer

Google Translate opens this fridge to give Canadians free beer

Marketing gimmicks are nothing new, but like Amazon's new Treasure Truck promotion, the really creative, original ones are pretty cool. In this case, it's from Molson, the Canadian beer maker. They had a special refrigerator built that runs Google's speech recognition and translation software, making it capable of recognizing as many as 40 different languages. As Molson's new commercial video shows, the fridge was left in public, encouraging people to open it by simply saying "I am Canadian." But it's not quite that easy.

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Amazon Echo adds SDK as Alexa spreads to other gadgets

Amazon Echo adds SDK as Alexa spreads to other gadgets

Amazon's Echo may have seemed like a gimmick, but the retail behemoth has kicked the digital assistant into overdrive by throwing it open to developers. Third-party apps will be able to integrate themselves with Echo courtesy of the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK), while hardware manufacturers that want to bake Amazon's speech-controlled helper into their devices can do so with the new Alexa Voice Service (AVS). To sweeten the deal and encourage voice-tech adoption, Amazon is also launching a $100m Alexa Fund.

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Amazon Echo now available to pre-order for anyone in the US

Amazon Echo now available to pre-order for anyone in the US

Echo, Amazon's connected speaker/digital assistant, is no longer limited to special customers with trial invites. Amazon has announced the device is now available for pre-order in the US, priced at $180, with plans to start shipping on July 14th. First introduced late last year, the Echo basically acts like a voice-activated digital assistant, except in a speaker instead of your smartphone. Users can give it instructions like play music, as well as connected home tasks turning off the lights.

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Hound is a voice search platform aiming to take on Siri, Cortana

Hound is a voice search platform aiming to take on Siri, Cortana

SoundHound, the music recognition app that never quite took off like rival Shazam, has just launched a new, natural-language voice search app that attempts to do what digital assistants like Siri and Cortana can only dream of. Simply called Hound, the app is now available as a beta on Android, and offers to handle tasks like internet and local searches, navigation, weather, geography, news, flight status, stocks, time zones, and much more.

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Amazon Echo is finally becoming your shopping assistant

Amazon Echo is finally becoming your shopping assistant

Back when Amazon launched its Echo, a digital personal assistant squeezed inside a cylindrical speaker, the obvious question was "why can't I shop?" Now, roughly six months into its slowly-staged roll out, Echo is finally getting the ability to do voice-controlled shopping, with a new firmware update pushed out today adding support for re-ordering items you've previously purchased, all using nothing more than spoken commands.

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Jibo robot snags new Sensory cloud-free speech control

Jibo robot snags new Sensory cloud-free speech control

Home robot companion Jibo may be able to recognize natural speech but it won't demand a web connection to do it, the first 'bot to feature a new offline engine that cuts the cord. Jibo, announced last year and expected to ship in 2016, may look like a kitchen appliance brought to life, but thanks to Sensory's new TrulyNatural system will be able to perpetually listen and react to a broad range of voice commands without requiring a connection to the cloud as most speech-recognition does.

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Comcast introduces voice-controlled remote for subscribers

Comcast introduces voice-controlled remote for subscribers

Long gone are the days when you had to get up out of the chair to manually change the volume or the television channel, and if Comcast has its way, we’ll one day consider having to manually press buttons on the television remote as equally archaic. The company has introduced a new voice-enabled remote that leverages Texas Instruments’ RF technology to, according to Comcast, usher in what could end up being “the tipping point in a major revolution” for its subscribers.

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