Smart Speaker

PrivacyMic can capture information inside the home without recording conversations

PrivacyMic can capture information inside the home without recording conversations

Engineers at the University of Michigan have created a new device called PrivacyMic that could usher in an era of smart speakers that can capture information inside the home without recording speech. The challenge with smart speakers for many people today is that the microphones are constantly listening for their activation word, so they hear everything that goes on inside the home. PrivacyMic, on the other hand, can listen for the signal that would turn on the smart speaker without eavesdropping on conversations.

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Microsoft Intelligent Speakers automatically translate and transcribe meetings

Microsoft Intelligent Speakers automatically translate and transcribe meetings

If the global coronavirus pandemic taught us anything, it's that businesses all around the world need technology to continue functioning if working in a traditional office environment isn't possible. Hardware and software technology and products to allow people to work remotely and still conduct business have boomed over the last year. Microsoft has announced new Intelligent Speakers that are small devices able to identify up to 10 different voices in a Microsoft Teams meeting.

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2021 Nest Hub might use Soli radar to detect and monitor sleep

2021 Nest Hub might use Soli radar to detect and monitor sleep

For all their usefulness, at least for a certain class of people, smart speakers and especially smart displays are often unwelcome in the sanctuary that is the bedroom. Despite assurances from companies, some people are still very wary of smart speakers accidentally picking up private conversations or smart displays with cameras seeing something very personal. It seems that Google will try to make its case again with a new Nest Hub that will feature sleep tracking courtesy of Project Soli.

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HomePod 14.3 software update sneaked in a small but important change

HomePod 14.3 software update sneaked in a small but important change

Apple made big and still doubted claims about reducing electronic waste when it removed the charger and EarPods from the Apple 12 packaging. It isn't, however, applying that same logic across all its devices, at least not yet. The HomePod mini, for example, ships with its own power brick, and you can use only that to sufficiently power up the smart speaker. At least that was until a firmware update a few weeks back that added a new feature without anyone even noticing it.

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Google Home Max discontinuation marks the end of a pre-Nest era

Google Home Max discontinuation marks the end of a pre-Nest era

It might be hard to believe but smart speakers have been in the market for more than half a decade now. Amazon launched the Echo, which was then seen as an oddity, in late 2014 and Google followed it up with the Home speaker two years later. Google would eventually expand that into a new line of "Home" branded smart speakers but now that will just be a footnote of history as the last of its kind, the Google Home Max, as officially sold out and has been discontinued.

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Apple Music on Google Home smart speakers brings Assistant and Nest to the party

Apple Music on Google Home smart speakers brings Assistant and Nest to the party

Google has added Apple Music support to its smart home system, meaning subscribers can now ask the Google Assistant to play tracks on their Nest Audio and other smart speakers. The new integration further bridges the divide between Apple and Google's media and smart home platforms, which can at times prove a headache for those trying to make the most of all their content subscriptions across all their devices.

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HomePod mini owners report random Internet connectivity problems

HomePod mini owners report random Internet connectivity problems

Apple was terribly late to the smart speaker party and even when the HomePod finally landed, it was initially a disappointment when it came to Siri's usefulness and control of smart home appliances. It definitely got better over time but its competitors have moved on to bigger and smaller smart speakers. At long last, Apple finally bit back with the HomePod mini but the smart speaker is reportedly giving new owners more headaches than the $99 speaker is worth because of intermittent and inexplicable Internet connection problems.

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HomePod mini teardown warns owners not to pull the power cable

HomePod mini teardown warns owners not to pull the power cable

Apple is not a fan of unauthorized or third-party repairs. While legislation on the right to repair still hangs in limbo, the company is doing every bit it can to at least discourage untrained hands from taking a whack at it. Sometimes it comes via some arbitrary software certification, other times it is based on how difficult it is to open up a device. The new HomePod mini clearly falls in the latter category, making it nearly impossible to even replace the power cable.

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Amazon just revealed a bright new PRODUCT(RED) Echo speaker

Amazon just revealed a bright new PRODUCT(RED) Echo speaker

Amazon has revealed a new, limited edition version of its latest Echo smart speaker, with the PRODUCT(RED) model promising a share of the price goes to charity. As with other PRODUCT(RED) launches we've seen, sales of the red-finish Echo will include a contribution to the Global Fund to support HIV and AIDS programs in sub-Saharan Africa.

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Alexa is getting chattier as Amazon’s AI guesses what you really wanted

Alexa is getting chattier as Amazon’s AI guesses what you really wanted

Alexa is about to get chattier, but Amazon thinks a more vocal AI will be welcome if she can correctly intuit what you might want out of the conversation. While Alexa-powered smart speakers have been able to run in conversational mode for some months now, asking back and forth questions, a new update being rolled out will help the assistant figure out what Amazon is referring to as "latent goals" from users.

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HomePod mini preorders open – MagSafe Duo Charger and iPhone 12 Leather Sleeve now “coming soon”

HomePod mini preorders open – MagSafe Duo Charger and iPhone 12 Leather Sleeve now “coming soon”

Apple's iPhone 12 Pro Max and iPhone 12 mini aren't the only new devices going up for preorder today, with some hotly-anticipated accessories either available for your shopping cart or promising to arrive there soon. The HomePod mini, the smaller version of its smart speaker, can be preordered now, while two iPhone 12 accessories are now listed as "coming soon" on Apple's site.

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Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen) Review – Sphere of Influence

Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen) Review – Sphere of Influence

Alexa is getting a fresh wardrobe for 2020, and the new Echo Dot (4th Gen) is going spherical just like its bigger Echo sibling. As always, the pitch is fairly straightforward: at $49.99, the Echo Dot is a more affordable way to add Alexa to a new room, while the $59.99 Echo Dot with Clock clamors for a spot on your nightstand. Unlike with the 4th Gen Echo, however, the advantages aren't quite so clear-cut.

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