Speech encompasses speech understanding/recognition and speech synthesis.
Consumers loath the automated enterprise call center. Nothing is more frustrating than yelling into a phone at an interactive voice recognition (IVR) system that just doesn't seem to understand what you need. But few realize most enterprises aren't fans of current automated call center solutions either, often complaining that the technologies are complicated, expensive and frustrating for users.
Machine learning has become important to many products -- such as Google photos search and speech recognition. It's a kind of artificial intelligence that that gives computers the ability to learn, make predictions and find patterns. But most of all that complex computing typically needs to take place in the cloud, where the algorithms are being processed through power-intensive clusters of graphics processing units.
The assistants in our living rooms are supposed to be as personal as they are on our phones, but it's never really felt that way. Anyone who walks into our homes can say, "OK, Google," or "Hey, Alexa" and get access to whatever they want, from upcoming appointments to the kind of music we like, even addressing them by your name. But a new feature rolling out to Google Home looks to add a personal touch to the impersonal home speaker.
China, the most populous country in the world, has close to one billion people that speak Mandarin. Spanish is spoken by a less than half that number, primarily in Mexico, Spain and the countries in South America. English follows close behind, with Hindi in India and Arabic in the Middle East making up the top five. Or so you would think.
Amazon's Alexa has become the flag-bearer for AI assistants. Not only does she possess an exhaustive list of useful skills, but she's also started finding new homes in everything from phones to cars, watches, little robots and even refrigerators. There's a reason Amazon's Echo and Echo Dot speakers are particularly suited for ordering Alexa around at home, though. They both feature a fancy far-field, seven-microphone setup and audio processing smarts that help Alexa understand your muffled commands shouted from the downstairs bathroom. Today, Amazon's announced it's releasing this mixture of hardware and software in a new development kit, so other companies can build Alexa prisons that recognize you want to add mixed spices to your shopping list, and not listen to a Spice Girls mix (liar).
Roughly 25 million voice assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Home are expected to sell in the US in 2017 and researchers are noticing that infants who grow up around these devices are having developmental challenges. For example, kids who grow up with voice assistants tend to have less regard for people's feelings because they're used to interacting vocally with an object without emotions. They also tend to place less value on developing vocabulary because it's more efficient for them to retrieve information from Google Home or Alexa with simple commands.