Orii smart ring turns your fingertip into a Bluetooth earpiece


While modern Bluetooth earpieces are more compact than ever, chances are you'll still need to leave at least one stuck in your ear. This can get uncomfortable over time, not to mention the dorkiness that's been haunting this form factor since day one. Hong Kong startup Origami Labs thinks it has an alternative solution to this problem: why not repackage the Bluetooth earpiece as a ring, and then use bone conduction to transmit audio to the fingertip? Using bone conduction for audio transmission is hardly a new idea. It's a commonly used technology in the hearing aid market, as this transmits sound directly to the inner ear, thus bypassing hearing issues caused by the middle or outer ear.

Baidu's Deep Voice 2 text-to-speech engine can imitate hundreds of human accents


Next time you hear a voice generated by Baidu's Deep Voice 2, you might not be able to tell whether it's human. Baidu, the Beijing-based juggernaut that commands 80 percent of the Chinese internet search market, is investing heavily in artificial intelligence. In 2013, it opened the Institute of Deep Learning, an R&D center focused on machine learning. And in May, it took the wraps off the newest version of Deep Voice, its AI-powered text-to-speech engine. Deep Voice 2, which follows on the heels of Deep Voice's public debut earlier this year, can produce real-time speech that's nearly indistinguishable from a human voice.

Mobvoi ramps up artificial intelligence efforts in China


Mobvoi, the Chinese artificial intelligence startup backed by Google and Volkswagen, launched a chatbot on Tuesday that can connect with voice-activated smart home devices, as the company ramps up its efforts to turn from a niche player to being the future Amazon Alexa or Google Home in China. The Beijing-based startup founded in 2012 by a group of former Google engineers sees smart homes as one of the top priorities to leverage its voice recognition and natural language processing technology after receiving a US$180 million investment from German auto maker Volkswagen earlier this month. Smart homes are seen by technology giants around the world as one of the key directions for the application of artificial intelligence in people's everyday life. In the United States, Alexa, the robotic voice assistant behind Amazon's Echo has already allowed people to dim bedroom lights and play song lists through speech. In China, online search giant Baidu recently acquired a Chinese start-up that developed an artificial intelligence-based voice assistant to push further into smart home devices.

Apple's Siri learns Shanghainese as voice assistants race to cover languages


HONG KONG Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd is in talks with banks to raise $5 billion in new funding, sources told Thomson Reuters' Basis Point, amid a flurry of fund-raising by China's tech giants.

Machines that Talk to Us May Soon Sense Our Feelings, Too


After great promise in the 1960s that machines would soon think like humans, progress stalled for decades. Only in the past 10 years or so has research picked up, and now there are several popular products on the market that do a decent job of at least recognizing spoken speech. For Björn Schuller, full professor and head of the chair of Complex and Intelligent Systems at the University of Passau, Germany, who grew up watching Knight Rider--a television show about a car that could talk--this is the fulfillment of a childhood fantasy. Schuller is a World Economic Forum Young Scientist who will speak at the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Tianjin, China, from June 26 to 28.He recently spoke about the possibility of machines soon tuning in to human language quirks, behavior and emotion. How did you get interested in machine intelligence and speech recognition?