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.
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.
Samsung has announced Bixby, its artificial intelligence assistant, ahead of the launch of the Galaxy S8. It's expected to be one of the phone's biggest new features, and Samsung hopes it will trigger an enormous shift in user behaviour. As has been rumoured, the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S8 will have a dedicated Bixby button, which users can push in order to launch the voice assistant. Bixby is designed to make Samsung's devices more "natural and intuitive" to use, according to the company. It will initially only work with a handful of pre-installed apps, but Samsung says it will support almost every task the app is capable of performing, entirely through spoken commands.
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.