The biggest hardware and software arrival since the iPad in 2010 has been Amazon's Echo voice-controlled intelligent speaker, powered by its Alexa software assistant. But just because you're not seeing amazing new consumer tech products on Amazon, in the app stores, or at the Apple Store or Best Buy, that doesn't mean the tech revolution is stuck or stopped. They are: Artificial intelligence / machine learning, augmented reality, virtual reality, robotics and drones, smart homes, self-driving cars, and digital health / wearables. Google has changed its entire corporate mission to be "AI first" and, with Google Home and Google Assistant, to perform tasks via voice commands and eventually hold real, unstructured conversations.
We grew up watching movies like The Terminator, Star Wars, and The Matrix; weaving our AI dreams since our childhood. The term'Artificial Intelligence' was coined in 1956 by John McCarthy, but it is in the recent years that AI has experienced a resurgence as we are now being introduced to its real-world applications. Today, artificial intelligence is all around us, at times we don't even realize it; all of us at some point have been assisted by Siri or Google Assistant, have heard about a self-driving car, and have definitely received product and movie recommendations from Amazon and Netflix respectively. AI is already a part of our daily lives and its realm is likely to grow in the coming years. Now, terms like'Machine Learning' and'Deep Learning' have also started gaining ground.
Artificial intelligence researchers at DeepMind have created some of the most realistic sounding human-like speech, using neural networks. Dubbed WaveNet, the AI promises significant improvements to computer-generated speech, and could eventually be used in digital personal assistants such as Siri, Cortana and Amazon's Alexa. The technology generates voices by sampling real human speech from both English and Mandarin speakers. In tests, the WaveNet generated speech was found to be more realistic than other forms of text-to-speech programs but still falling short of being truly convincing. In 500 blind tests, respondents were asked to judge sample sentences on a scale of one to five (five being most realistic).
Its venerable phone line wasn't the only newly minted product Apple showed off at the iPhone 8 event on Tuesday. Eddie Cue announced onstage that the company will expand availability of its TV app to seven new countries by the end of the year and will be adding local news and sports programming as well. The TV app will be available in Australia and Canada next month, the spread to Germany, France, Sweden, Norway and the UK by the end of the year. US sports fans (that is, those that live in the country), will be able to track their favorite teams and have Apple TV push an on-screen notification whenever a game starts. By the end of the year, Apple also announced that users will be able to ask Siri directly to switch to a game.