Last year the BBC announced it was working on its own voice assistant, called "Beeb," designed to help customers take advantage of voice assistant technology regardless of their accent. Existing assistants still have issues understanding accents, and nowhere is this truer than Britain, which has a broad range of accents despite its small geographic size. Now, Beeb is going into beta on PC. The early version of the software will be available to UK-based members of Microsoft's Windows Insider program (download the app from the Microsoft Store here). Microsoft is actually playing a pivotal role in the development of Beeb, with its Azure AI services being used by the BBC to build the infrastructure behind the platform.
Tech giants are battling to position their smart speakers as the center of the digital home. But Microsoft, which lost the mobile wars to Apple and Google, is trying to ensure that it will have a place, no matter who wins. Microsoft has its own voice-based digital assistant, Cortana, that could theoretically power a challenger to the Amazon Echo, Google Home, or Apple HomePod for countertop space. Indeed, Cortana is already core to a smart speaker from Harman Kardon. But CEO Satya Nadella is also thinking about how Cortana can live in harmony with other digital assistants.
It's a highly frustrating moment talking to a voice assistant that doesn't understand your regional accent. But a new voice assistant launched by the BBC will learn UK regional accents to ensure you don't have to attempt to alter your accent in order to be understood. That voice assistant is called Beeb -- a nod to the BBC's nickname -- and it's just been released in beta form for a select group of users to try out. Those users are UK-based members of Microsoft's Windows Insider Programme, a group of early adopters who test new tech and suggest improvements. Beeb can play BBC radio, music, podcasts, news, and weather.
The history of technology is the history of human interaction with machines. Millions of years ago, we started with SOUND (voice), and soon came the WORD (text). The touchscreen made redundant the mechanical keyboard. However, 90% of human communication still happens through voice because it is natural. Unfortunately, technology progress took the time to catch up with it.
Digital assistants are a kind of software agents that reside on a device and help the user to perform tasks in more intuitive and efficient way. In most of the scenarios, the digital assistant is voice enabled and in some case, it can be text or gesture controlled. This article aims at covering the current landscape of voice-enabled digital assistants available today and their application in the field of automation. The most popular digital assistants that are available today are Apple's Siri, Google Assistant, Microsoft's Cortana and Amazon's Alexa. "By 2019, at least 25 percent of households in developed economies, digital assistants on smartphones and other devices will serve as the primary interface to connected home services" – Gartner "The virtual digital assistant market will reach $15.8 billion worldwide by 2021" – Tractica Let's have a look at these digital assistants from different companies.