New Voice-Powered App Takes On Leading Digital Assistants

Santa Clara-based startup SoundHound has developed a voice-powered digital assistant that could take on early players in the field, including Siri, Google Now and Cortana. Like the others, the Hound app (for iOS and Android) allows users to interact via voice so that it can perform requested tasks. However, Hound claims to be faster and smarter than its competitors. The app has been in beta with 150,000 testers since last summer, and is now publicly available along with new Yelp and Uber partnerships for restaurant info and ride hailing from within the app. Continue reading New Voice-Powered App Takes On Leading Digital Assistants

Future of Artificial Intelligence for Enterprise and Consumers

Proponents of artificial intelligence are quick to point out that, as Google searches and Siri exemplify, it’s nothing new. In fact, panelists talking about “The Future of Artificial Intelligence” at CES described their own and others’ efforts in the field dating back to 2007. But a combination of a new trend in collecting and curating massive amounts of data, along with widespread cloud usage, is opening to the doors to more platforms and applications for artificial intelligence in enterprise and consumer markets. Continue reading Future of Artificial Intelligence for Enterprise and Consumers

Facebook Adds Uber Ride-Hailing Service to Messenger App

Facebook users will soon be able to start hailing an Uber ride without leaving the Messenger app. The new partnership will also allow the Uber service to capitalize on Facebook Messenger’s millions of users. Facebook plans to add other ride-sharing companies in the coming months. The new service is part of Facebook’s strategy to emulate rival Asian apps such as WeChat, which already allows users to message each other, hail rides, and shop for goods and games. Continue reading Facebook Adds Uber Ride-Hailing Service to Messenger App

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

Apple Shelves Live TV Service, Opens App Store to Developers

Apple has put its plans to offer a live Internet-based television service — a package of 14 or more channels for $30 to $40 a month — on hold, say sources. Media companies balked at the prices Apple wants to pay, in order to keep its own subscription price low. Executives from Starz and other outlets have already stated they expect Apple and Amazon to pay more, not less, than existing distributors for media. Instead, Apple has pivoted to opening up its App Store so media companies to sell directly to customers. Continue reading Apple Shelves Live TV Service, Opens App Store to Developers

Companies Develop New Applications for Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence is moving into the mainstream and the San Francisco-based Sentient is one example of how it’s working. The company most recently built a visual search service for an online footwear company, Shoes.com, and also worked with Saint Michael’s Hospital at the University of Toronto on tracking patient care. Rather than rely on history for recommendations, the technology looks at more than a hundred factors to make judgments. Microsoft is also building AI into its products, including its Azure cloud platform. Continue reading Companies Develop New Applications for Artificial Intelligence

Toyota Invests $1 Billion in Planned Return to Traditional R&D

Facebook, Google and numerous startups are among those actively researching new possibilities with artificial intelligence technology. Japanese automaker Toyota is joining the crusade with a five-year, $1 billion R&D effort. The planned Silicon Valley facility will become one of the largest research labs in the area. Toyota Research Institute will initially open a lab next to Stanford and an additional facility near MIT in Cambridge. Toyota’s plans represent a shift in tech research — a return to a focus on science and engineering rather than a push for tech that would become a specific product or service. Continue reading Toyota Invests $1 Billion in Planned Return to Traditional R&D

Roku 4 Media Player Delivers 4K Streaming, Discovery Updates

Roku officially revealed the Roku 4, priced at $129.99, which supports 4K/Ultra HD and HDTVs, and features a new operating system, faster processor, improved Wi-Fi and more memory. Roku OS 7 improves users’ ability to discover specific content among its 3,000+ apps and channels. The company also unveiled an updated mobile app, which offers a streamlined design for Search, the Roku Feed and remote control from the smartphone. The Roku 4 joins several upgraded connected players from Amazon, Apple, Google and TiVo. Continue reading Roku 4 Media Player Delivers 4K Streaming, Discovery Updates

There is Untapped Potential in Enhanced Online Video Search

We are used to very sophisticated search for text, but when it comes to online video, search tools are quite primitive. Netflix allows users to search by titles, people and genres; Hulu powers search for titles and people; and HBO Now restricts search to titles. The potential for exquisitely granular search — and potential new revenue streams — can be found in each TV show or movie’s rich metadata. But how to unlock it, and how to structure search is still open to question and experimentation. Continue reading There is Untapped Potential in Enhanced Online Video Search

Apple Introduces New iPhones, Apple TV, iPad Pro and More

In addition to the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus and next-gen Apple TV set-top box with an emphasis on apps, gaming and shopping, Apple unveiled several compelling new products and updates at its San Francisco event, including a $100 stylus called Apple Pencil, a new iPad Pro with optional keyboard that will likely play to business users, improvements to the Apple Watch (including apps such as Facebook Messenger and AirStrip), and more. For the new iPhones, Apple has notably packed the back-facing iSight cameras with 12 megapixels, a larger sensor designed to reduce image artifacts, and the ability to shoot 4K video. Continue reading Apple Introduces New iPhones, Apple TV, iPad Pro and More

Apple TV 4 to Debut in October, Could Be a Game Changer

Inside sources report that Apple is on the verge of releasing its 4th generation Apple TV in October for a price likely to be under $200. The new Apple TV will feature an A8 chip in a dual-core configuration for an updated interface and improved navigation. More importantly, it will include a native software developer kit, ensuring that a wide variety of apps will continue to be developed and released. Also featured are a new motion sensitive remote control, Siri support and an as-of-yet unknown quantity of TV content. Continue reading Apple TV 4 to Debut in October, Could Be a Game Changer

Facebook Personal Assistant Integrates AI with Human Touch

Facebook just launched its new personal assistant, M, to a few hundred San Francisco Bay Area users. Unlike Apple’s Siri or Microsoft’s Cortana, however, M is not just powered by artificial intelligence. M does all the same things that Siri and Cortana do, but it adds a team of experienced customer service reps to accomplish more “human” tasks such as calling the cable company and enduring automated messages and holds. Facebook is disadvantaged on mobile devices, but the company hopes its efficiency will spur usage. Continue reading Facebook Personal Assistant Integrates AI with Human Touch

The Mobile Future: Operating Systems Versus Messaging Apps

Search and apps may dominate today’s landscape for mobile devices, but two different trends are already vying to dominate the future of smartphones and the Internet. One group, led by Apple and Google, sees a future in which artificial intelligence or a virtual assistant — think Siri and Google Now — integrate apps, websites and any other online “silos.” The other group plans to leverage messaging apps to incorporate as many functions as possible. China’s WeChat dominates here, but Facebook and Snapchat also fall into this group. Continue reading The Mobile Future: Operating Systems Versus Messaging Apps

Slack Uses Artificial Intelligence to Build New Virtual Assistant

Stewart Butterfield, founder and CEO of office chat software maker Slack Technologies, says his company is using AI to help build an advanced virtual assistant. Slackbot, Slack’s current built-in assistant, is an icon used for tips, searches and even a sprinkling of humor. In discussing the future potential of Slackbot, Butterfield compares it to the Samantha software voiced by Scarlett Johansson from the film “Her.” Butterfield is leveraging natural language processing and machine learning to build a truly helpful digital office assistant. Continue reading Slack Uses Artificial Intelligence to Build New Virtual Assistant

Casie is a New Digital Personal Assistant That You Can Wear

OrCam Technologies has created a wearable, digital personal assistant device, called Casie, which can be clipped onto a shirt or worn as a medallion on a necklace. The USB-sized device, which will soon go through testing, contains a 5-megapixel camera and microphone, which can record a user’s surroundings and connect with the Casie app on a user’s phone. The app can then pair its recordings with data from the Internet to help the user identify and analyze places and people, such as a LinkedIn connection. Continue reading Casie is a New Digital Personal Assistant That You Can Wear

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