Social: Facebook Acquires Startup with Siri-Like Technology

Facebook has reportedly acquired Wit.ai, a Palo Alto-based startup with an API that allows developers to make use of voice recognition and natural language processing technology for their products. Although Facebook has not yet disclosed any details about Wit moving forward, it seems that the social network’s instant messaging app Messenger will likely be a part of the plan. The voice recognition technology that Wit provides Facebook is in line with that of Apple’s Siri. Continue reading Social: Facebook Acquires Startup with Siri-Like Technology

Amazon’s New $199 Echo Speaker Interacts with Shoppers

Users can listen to music through Amazon’s new Echo speakers, but more importantly, this new device listens to users as well. Similar to Siri, users can ask the Echo speakers (which go by the name Alexa) about the weather, news, math problems, definitions, and anything else that can be looked up on Wikipedia. They can also set timers and make shopping lists. Someday those shopping lists may make it possible for Amazon to create an online ordering service through voice commands. Continue reading Amazon’s New $199 Echo Speaker Interacts with Shoppers

Will.i.am Unveils New Smartwatch with Streaming Music Service

Musician and tech entrepreneur will.i.am has introduced the PULS smartwatch in order to fill what he perceives as a void in a wearable market that does not adequately take fashion into account. At Dreamforce 2014, he presented PULS as a wearable that does not need to be tethered to a phone since it has its own SIM card. The device looks more like a cuff, and has speakers and a touchscreen display. PULS connects via Wi-Fi and has carrier partners for 3G — AT&T in the U.S. and O2 in the U.K.  Continue reading Will.i.am Unveils New Smartwatch with Streaming Music Service

Speech Recognition Tech: Kids Speak with Animated Characters

Pixar vets Oren Jacob and Martin Reddy launched San Francisco-based ToyTalk, a startup that develops mobile games that enable children to have extended conversations with animated characters. The concept was inspired by a Skype call when Jacob’s then 7-year-old daughter asked if she could speak with one of her dolls. While kids can hear characters speak through movies, games and toys, Jacob began thinking about how to help children better engage with the characters. Continue reading Speech Recognition Tech: Kids Speak with Animated Characters

Apple Introduces iOS 8 with a Focus on Privacy and Sharing

With the release of Apple’s iOS 8, the company is introducing some significant privacy and sharing upgrades. Following the recent hack of celebrity photographs from iCloud accounts, Apple launched a campaign explaining the ways in which it handles personal data. CEO Tim Cook released a statement indicating that he wants Apple to be transparent about these issues. In iOS 8, the company released a feature called Continuity, enhanced user privacy, and family sharing. Continue reading Apple Introduces iOS 8 with a Focus on Privacy and Sharing

Siri Creators Build a New Improved AI That Can Teach Itself

Viv Labs, a startup founded by three of the people who developed Siri for Apple, is currently working on an artificial intelligence technology that will truly be able to perform tasks at the sound of a voice command. Unlike Siri, the new AI named Viv will be able to teach itself to perform almost any function, not just the ones that are programmed. The AI will also get to know its user, recognize the services that the user prefers, and eventually know what the user needs before it is stated. Continue reading Siri Creators Build a New Improved AI That Can Teach Itself

VocalIQ and GM to Make Vehicle Voice Control More Intuitive

VocalIQ, a UK-based company that works on software to enable voice control of devices, is collaborating with General Motors to take vehicle voice control to the next level. The intuitive system would learn the driver’s vocabulary and intentions to create more precise responses, without the need for specific wording. The dialogue management system would be integrated into the car’s dashboard navigation. GM’s Israel-based Advanced Technical Center is overseeing the development. Continue reading VocalIQ and GM to Make Vehicle Voice Control More Intuitive

WWDC: Apple Announces New OS X, iOS 8 and iCloud Drive

Apple kicked off its Worldwide Developer Conference yesterday in San Francisco with a software-focused, two-hour event that highlighted the future of OS X, iOS 8, and a collection of new developer tools intended to encourage the creation of new apps. Apple’s new OS X Yosemite, with a visual overhaul inspired by iOS, will have a public beta this summer and will be available this fall. The company also announced iCloud Drive, a file system for storing documents in the cloud. Continue reading WWDC: Apple Announces New OS X, iOS 8 and iCloud Drive

Samsung Ordered to Pay Apple $119.6 Million in Patent Case

Apple won a minor victory in its ongoing software patent dispute with Samsung Friday when a federal court jury decided that some Samsung devices infringed on two Apple patents. As a result, Samsung was ordered to pay Apple $119.6 million in damages. However, the jury also found that Samsung did not infringe on two other patents in question, and Apple would not receive the $2.2 billion it was seeking. The jury also awarded Samsung $158,400, the result of Apple infringing on a Samsung patent. Continue reading Samsung Ordered to Pay Apple $119.6 Million in Patent Case

Amazon Dash Makes No-Click Online Shopping Dangerously Easy

Amazon recently announced Dash, a barcode scanner and microphone that makes no-click online shopping possible. Dash is also connected to Amazon’s same-day delivery grocery service, and basically transforms a person’s house into a showroom. A user can easily scan a product to order it, and even speak into the microphone and Dash will put the item in the user’s cart. The mic puts Amazon ahead of Apple’s Siri and Google Now, since Amazon directly profits from its use. Continue reading Amazon Dash Makes No-Click Online Shopping Dangerously Easy

LinkedIn Has 300 Million Registered Users, Mobile Use on Rise

LinkedIn recently announced that it now has more than 300 million registered users, about two-thirds of which are based outside the United States. While the company has not specified how many of the 300 million are active monthly users, it reported 139 million monthly unique visitors and 48 million Slideshare visitors for the fourth quarter of 2013. During that same period, LinkedIn noted that 41 percent of its traffic came from mobile devices, a percentage it expects to continue increasing. Continue reading LinkedIn Has 300 Million Registered Users, Mobile Use on Rise

Apple to Integrate Sound Recognition App Shazam into iOS 8

Apple is planning to include a song discovery feature in the newest update of iOS, which will allow users to identify songs and artists with their iPad or iPhone. Apple is working with Shazam, an app that can quickly recognize a song by collecting sound from the device’s microphone and matching it with an extensive song database. Apple hopes the feature will help encourage download sales. Although iTunes is the world’s largest music seller, sales have decreased dramatically in recent years.  Continue reading Apple to Integrate Sound Recognition App Shazam into iOS 8

Newsbeat Creates Custom Radio Show Based on Your Interests

Last week the Tribune Company released a new iOS and Android app called Newsbeat, which plans to change how we consume our daily news by offering a more personalized podcast-like experience. Newsbeat has access to more than 7,000 sources from major newspapers to smaller blogs. Users can specify what types of stories and publications they are interested in, and the app will create a customized newscast by using Pandora-like artificial intelligence technology. Continue reading Newsbeat Creates Custom Radio Show Based on Your Interests

Cortana: Microsoft’s New Siri-Like Personal Digital Assistant

Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8.1 update will include its new personal digital assistant “Cortana,” named after the AI character in the “Halo” game series. Designed to rival Apple’s Siri and Google Now, Cortana’s circular animated icon will replace the built-in Bing search functionality on Windows Phone, and will animate while speaking or thinking, creating a personality similar to the Siri approach. Cortana will save data in a Notebook system that will enable it to track data and generate notifications much like Google Now. Continue reading Cortana: Microsoft’s New Siri-Like Personal Digital Assistant

CES Panelists Discuss Entertainment Trends and Future of TV

Industry leaders speaking at two CES panels this week addressed new directions in entertainment media. During the panel “What are the Entertainment Trends at CES 2014?”, wearables were discussed, smartwatches in particular, and what it will take to spark consumer adoption. During “The State of the New TV Business: What Comes Next?” panel, speakers examined how networks are tackling distribution and monetization of content in an era of streaming media. Continue reading CES Panelists Discuss Entertainment Trends and Future of TV

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