Representation & Reasoning

Consumer robots are dead; long live Alexa


It wasn't so long ago that consumer robots were destined to be the next big thing. But, that optimism hasn't translated into consumer sales. The result: Jibo was sold for parts. It was one of the first social robots. The founder, MIT roboticist Cynthia Brezeal, was a favorite of tech media.

Google Assistant can now speak with an Australian or English accent


Google Assistant hasn't been traveling, but it has picked up some new accents. The voice assistant now has the ability to speak in an Australian or English accent (though Google calls it British). The feature is available across all devices including Android phones and Google Home speakers, but only for English speakers in the US for the time being. In order to produce the accents in an accurate way, Google is tapping into the artificial intelligence of DeepMind. Google Assistant uses WaveNet, the AI company's speech synthesis model powered by deep neural networks, to generate natural sounding voices.

Get 4K streaming for insanely cheap with all-time-low pricing on Amazon's Fire TV Stick


Media streamers open up a whole world of content for cord-cutters, and right now you can grab the one we've called "the media streamer to beat" at a steep discount. Amazon's Fire TV 4K is on sale for $35, down from a list price of $50 and the lowest we've seen it. If you buy two, you can save even more, bringing the pair down to $60. It also comes with the rare useful streaming remote, with control over volume, TV power, and even a mute button all in one place. For hands-free control, the Fire TV 4K is compatible with Amazon's Alexa digital assistant, and can respond to your voice using either the microphone built into the remote or via connection to an Echo.

You can now give your Google Assistant a British or Australian accent


Now you can get your Google Assistant device to say "g'day." The voice assistant features two new voices for English speakers in the U.S., with the introduction of being able to choose an Australian or British accent. SEE ALSO: Google Home's best feature just got way more useful You can access these accent in your Google Assistant settings, by selecting "Assistant Voice" in the menu. From there, select either "Sydney Harbour Blue" for the Australian voice, or "British Racing Green" for the British iteration. In case you didn't notice, these are the same accents which have been available on Google Assistant in the Australian and UK markets.

Microsoft Surface Headphones review: close but no cigar

The Guardian

Surface Headphones are Microsoft's high-price, premium noise-cancelling cans aimed squarely at toppling the current kings, Bose and Sony. Headphones seem like an odd choice for the Xbox, Office and Windows maker, but the are being produced by Microsoft's burgeoning consumer electronics arm responsible for its line of Surface computers and accessories. Microsoft has aimed right for the top of the tree in terms of wireless, noise cancelling headphones. The fit and finish of the Surface Headphones is every bit as good as Bose. The large, soft round ear cups encapsulate my ears with their oval openings, while the angle of the band and hinge points give plenty of flexibility, avoiding any obvious pressure points.

'Alexa, Improvise' is a comedy show that uses AI fails for laughs


It was 7:55 p.m. on a Saturday night, and I had just arrived at a small improv workshop and stage space in San Francisco's Mission District. Mere moments after I sat down, someone placed a stool in front of the stage, draped a red cloth over it and placed what would turn out to be an integral part of the evening's performance: an Amazon Echo. It wasn't there to tell jokes -- it's notably not a very good comedian. Instead, it was both prop and participant in a unique improv show called "Alexa, Improvise." From mechanical comics to riffing robots, the integration of artificial intelligence and comedy have been attempted before, with varying degrees of success.

Amazon brings Alexa's Follow-Up Mode to Fire TV Cube


Last week, Amazon updated Fire TV Cube with the Alexa Announcements feature (which lets you dictate a message that the other Echo devices in your home will broadcast) and notifications from your smart doorbell and camera. With Follow-Up Mode, you can ask Alexa for additional information or to carry out further actions after your initial request. So, when you say something like "Alexa, show me comedy movies" and it displays a selection of such films on your TV, you can ask it to play a certain flick without having to say "Alexa" again. You might also use Follow-Up Mode to ask for extra info about the weather or items on a list. You'll need to switch on the feature from the settings in the Alexa app if you'd like to use it.

Glossary: Smart farming


This article was originally published on TechRepublic. Aerial imagery: Photos taken from the air, often with UAVs in smart farming. Used to assist farmers to determine the condition of a field. It is the integrated internal and external networking of farming operations as a result of the emergence of smart technology in agriculture. Agro-chemicals: Chemicals used in agriculture, which include fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides.

8 of the best dating sites for working professionals in the UK


Did we mention the high monthly price? If you're treating your dating life with the same laser focus as your career goals, this site might be worth the price The basics: EliteSingles caters its site specifically to professionals. In this contest, "elite" seems to simply mean that members are in possession of a degree (the site boasts that 82% of its members are college educated). The signup process for EliteSingles is similar to that of eharmony, in that it requires you to take a lengthy personality test before showing you your matches. The personality test is based on the Five Factor Model, which breaks down your personality in five main categories: openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.

From Subaru Ascent to Apple Watch Series 4: The biggest product launches of 2018


Ed Baig gives a look at the new Apple Watch Series 4. One key new feature: fall detection. The changes in the consumer marketplace this year have been largely driven by new tech products. Our world has been shaped in large part by just a handful of revolutionary consumer products and the companies behind them. Such milestones include the first modern automobile, first sold by Mercedes in 1901, and the first smartphone, introduced to the market by IBM in 1994. While the impact new products have on the world rarely rises to the significance of the first personal automobile, each year brings a new lineup of consumer products, some of them the first of their kind, to the market – and 2018 is no exception.