Survey Finds That Smart Speakers Are Gaining in Popularity

A new Adobe Analytics survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers has found that voice assistants and smart speakers are becoming increasingly popular. Adobe predicts that following the next holiday season, almost half of U.S. consumers will own a smart speaker. The market has grown about 15 percent in less than one year; more than 32 percent of consumers now own a smart speaker. People are most commonly using such tech to play music, check weather forecasts, set alarms/reminders as well as obtain directions, check sports scores and traffic, and ask fun questions. Continue reading Survey Finds That Smart Speakers Are Gaining in Popularity

Google Quietly Working on Fuchsia as Successor to Android

Google engineers are working on Fuchsia, a project to create software that would replace Android. The new software is designed from the ground up to offer improved voice interactions, frequent security updates and “look the same” across multiple devices from laptops to IoT sensors. The move is in line with chief executive Sundar Pichai’s stated goal of integrating artificial intelligence with consumer products. Google first started posting Fuchsia code in 2016, and allowed some app developers to try out open source code. Continue reading Google Quietly Working on Fuchsia as Successor to Android

IBM’s New Watson Assistant Helps Develop Virtual Assistants

With the launch of Watson Assistant, IBM is offering a new service that helps companies build their own voice-activated virtual assistants (like Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri). The new service aims to help companies that want to build these for their own products, using their own datasets. IBM’s pitch includes a belief that companies should want Watson Assistant rather than a competitor because it allows for heightened personalization and privacy. According to IBM, Watson Assistant keeps the data to itself, differentiating it from other virtual assistants.

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Facebook to Enter the Smart Speaker Market With Two Devices

By no later than July 2018, Facebook plans to introduce two smart speakers with 15-inch touchscreens. Code-named Aloha and Fiona, the two smart speakers, say sources, are aimed to let family and friends stay in touch with video chat and other social features. With the launch, Facebook joins Amazon, Alibaba, Apple, Google and Microsoft, all of which have debuted smart speakers into the global marketplace. According to Canalys, smart speaker sales are on track to double to over 50 million units in 2018. Continue reading Facebook to Enter the Smart Speaker Market With Two Devices

Venture Capitalists Discuss the Latest Startup Trends at CES

Who better to discover trends at CES 2018 than the venture capitalists that roam the exhibit looking for the most promising startups to fund? TMTPost founder/chief executive Hejuan Zhao brought together three such executives to ask them about what they’ve seen at the show and what they predict for the future. Caerus Ventures co-founder Gregory Borchardt, whose company focuses on connected devices, was astounded by the exponential growth of startup haven Eureka Park, with heavy representation from France and the Netherlands. Continue reading Venture Capitalists Discuss the Latest Startup Trends at CES

Amazon Imagines Alexa Will Soon Replace Your Smartphone

Amazon is aiming for a future in which its digital assistant Alexa replaces the smartphone. The future Alexa will evolve from speakers to touchscreens and a new, simpler kind of computing based on voice commands rather than apps. The rationale is that the smartphone has become ever-more complicated, with dozens of apps that distract the user. Developers also have an interest in moving off the smartphone, which has also been shown to have negative health effects. Rather than a distraction, Alexa offers specific interactions. Continue reading Amazon Imagines Alexa Will Soon Replace Your Smartphone

Walmart and Google Debut Voice-Command Online Shopping

Walmart is debuting shopping with voice commands on its website, via Google Home and Google Home Mini devices; it also offers customers $25 off their order if they buy one of the Google devices and link their Walmart account to Google Express’ shopping platform. The result may boost numbers of users who adopt voice shopping, and will also make it easier for customers with Google Home to easily reorder items they’ve previously purchased; with it, Walmart’s ease of shopping rivals Amazon’s Buy Now option and Dash Buttons. Continue reading Walmart and Google Debut Voice-Command Online Shopping

New Amazon Video API Turns Alexa Into a Remote Control

Amazon unveiled its Video Skill API, a new tool set to help content creators turn virtual assistant Alexa into a sophisticated TV remote. With the API, Alexa can search for titles, actors or genres; play or pause media and adjust the volume. Developers can also create their own Alexa commands. It keeps track of enabled services, which means the user won’t need to specify a provider or device or add any extra commands. Alexa already controls Fire TV, but the Video Skill API now opens up those controls to any cable or satellite TV company. Continue reading New Amazon Video API Turns Alexa Into a Remote Control

Samsung’s Digital Assistant Bixby to Roll Out With Galaxy S8

Samsung has become the latest tech giant to unveil a digital assistant, introducing Bixby, which will first appear with the upcoming Galaxy S8 smartphone. Unlike Siri and Cortana, Bixby is not a database capable of answering questions, but rather is intended to help users accomplish tasks. The Galaxy S8 will feature a dedicated button to launch Bixby, which will initially offer a few preinstalled apps in English and Korean only. Chinese and Spanish versions will unveil shortly after the phone’s debut. Continue reading Samsung’s Digital Assistant Bixby to Roll Out With Galaxy S8

Apple Updates How Home App Controls Smart Home Devices

Apple has launched a new website for its HomeKit software and Home App, which are used to control connected appliances and other devices in a user’s house. The site displays the compatible devices from 50 different brands and allows users to group them so that multiple actions can be triggered with a single tap or voice command. Apple has recently faced more competition in the smart home space because of Amazon’s Echo, which can also operate home devices via voice commands. Continue reading Apple Updates How Home App Controls Smart Home Devices

Google Home Adds Feature to Purchase Home Goods by Voice

Consumers can now use the voice-controlled Google Assistant on Google Home to order products and supplies and get them delivered within a few hours. The products and delivery times vary based on where the user lives, and Google has partnered with brands such as Costco, Walgreens and Whole Foods to supply the goods. Customers using the new feature either pay a delivery fee for each purchase or subscribe to the Google Express delivery service. The Amazon Echo smart speaker already has a voice-powered purchasing capability. Continue reading Google Home Adds Feature to Purchase Home Goods by Voice

Amazon Developing High-End Take on Popular Echo Speaker

Although Amazon declined to comment, sources say that the company is readying a premium Echo-like speaker for release in Q1 2017. The form factor is a break with Amazon’s cylindrical devices controlled by digital assistant Alexa. Instead, the new speaker will feature a seven-inch touchscreen that will tilt upwards, so users can see it when they are standing and looking at the speaker on a countertop. Sources add that, “at least one prototype version of the device places the speakers below and behind the screen.” Continue reading Amazon Developing High-End Take on Popular Echo Speaker

Sony Slated to Release Xperia Ear Wearable Digital Assistant

On December 13, Sony plans to release the Xperia Ear on Amazon in time for holiday gift shopping. Priced at $200, the device, which will also be available eventually at Fry’s Electronics, Abt and B&H, will compete with Amazon Echo and Google Home — but in a form factor that resembles a Bluetooth earpiece. Sony had originally said it would release Xperia Ear in the summer, but then pushed the release date. The earpiece, available in black, is a companion to Xperia smartphones. Continue reading Sony Slated to Release Xperia Ear Wearable Digital Assistant

SoundHound Offers Digital Assistant Platform to Developers

SoundHound’s Hound app, which is designed to rival digital assistants like Siri, Cortana and Google Now, will be available to third-party developers for the first time. The company best known for its music recognition app released the Houndify platform so that developers can add the Hound digital assistant to their own products. According to the company, Hound can answer complex queries with data from partners like Expedia, AccuWeather, Sportradar and Xignite. Continue reading SoundHound Offers Digital Assistant Platform to Developers

Interfaces From Voice to Gesture Likely to Eclipse the Screen

The screen has been the interface between users and information for decades but, as the Internet of Things grows in capability and becomes embedded in more products, the screen could end up diminishing in importance as an interface. Although some Internet of Things devices do use screens, people seem to gravitate to a variety of other interfaces. More specifically, wearables, gesture-based devices, ambient notifications, and automated responses appear to be on track to overtake the traditional screen. Continue reading Interfaces From Voice to Gesture Likely to Eclipse the Screen

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