Google will school users on their pronunciation with a new tool that uses AI to analyze speech

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Google is rolling out a new feature that lets users check their pronunciation using artificial intelligence. The tool, which launched today, is accessible to users upon searching Google for correct word pronunciations and leverages the microphone on one's device. Users are prompted to speak the word into their mic and then Google's AI will analyze the snippet and compare it against the word's correct pronunciation. Google's new pronunciation tool is available today and uses one's microphone to listen and analyze speech and provide feedback Above is an example of Google helping a user pronounce the word'anemone' 'For example, if you're practicing how to say "asterisk," the speech recognition technology analyzes how you said the word and then, it recognizes that the last soundbite was pronounced'rict' instead of'uhsk,' Google said in a statement. 'Based on this, you will receive feedback on how you can improve next time.'

Amazon Echo Flex: All you need to know about the plug-in smart speaker with Alexa voice control

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Over the past five years the Amazon Echo and Alexa voice service has paved the way for exciting smart home devices. Now we are being introduced the brand's hottest new release: the Echo Flex - a smart speaker that saves on space by conveniently plugging straight into the wall. With a price tag of just £24.99, the Echo Flex is certainly one of the cheapest options to get Amazon's Alexa in more places throughout your home. It is available for pre-order now and due for release tomorrow 14 November 2019. Whether it's in your hallway, kitchen, or attic, this impressive smart speaker will assist you in a multitude of everyday tasks.

Is the all-new Amazon Echo worth the money?

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

Amazon's Echo has been our long-time favorite in the lineup of Alexa-enabled smart speakers and displays. Since its introduction in 2015, the Echo has stood out in an increasingly congested marketplace for its sound quality, far-field voice technology, and minimal footprint. The new Echo is no exception to that trend with its improved speaker, rounded design, and ever-helpful Alexa. Let's dig a little deeper into what the third-generation Echo is about and whether you should get one. The third-generation Echo can put out decent sound with its 0.8-inch tweeter and 3-inch woofer.

LightCommands Audio Injection Attacks Threaten Voice Assistants


Researchers have come up with a new attack strategy against smart assistants. These attacks threaten all devices featuring voice assistants. Dubbed as'LightCommands', these attacks enable a potential attacker to inject voice commands to the devices and take control of them. Researchers have developed new attacks that allow meddling with smart assistants. These attacks named'LightCommands' allow injecting audio signals to voice assistants.

Researchers use laser to hack voice-activated devices like Amazon Echo

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

Suddenly, the garage door opens, a burglar slides in, uses another laser to have the Echo start the car and drives off. Researchers from the University of Michigan have used laser lights to exploit a wide variety of voice-activated devices, giving them access to everything from thermostats to garage door openers to front door locks. The researchers have communicated their findings to Amazon, Google and Apple, which are studying the research. Working with researchers from the University of Electro-Communications in Japan, U-M's researchers published a paper and a web site detailing how it works. There are also videos showing it in action.

Amazon's Alexa-powered Echo Buds earphones have a hidden fitness tracking feature

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Amazon's new Alexa Echo Buds earphones, released yesterday in the U.S., may be hiding a'track workout' function that could be announced soon. The Echo earbuds are priced at £119 ($129.99) Among notable features, including integration with Alexa Amazon's voice assistant, tech enthusiasts now believe the buds have the capability to track fitness workouts. This may set them apart from competitors as one of the first to build the tracking technology into earbuds. The Echo Buds are voice activated, allowing users to execute several commands.

Hackers Can Use Lasers to 'Speak' to Your Amazon Echo


In the spring of last year, cybersecurity researcher Takeshi Sugawara walked into the lab of Kevin Fu, a professor he was visiting at the University of Michigan. He wanted to show off a strange trick he'd discovered. Sugawara pointed a high-powered laser at the microphone of his iPad--all inside of a black metal box, to avoid burning or blinding anyone--and had Fu put on a pair of earbuds to listen to the sound the iPad's mic picked up. As Sugawara varied the laser's intensity over time in the shape of a sine wave, fluctuating at about 1,000 times a second, Fu picked up a distinct high-pitched tone. The iPad's microphone had inexplicably converted the laser's light into an electrical signal, just as it would with sound.

Amazon Alexa, Apple's Siri and Google Assistant can be hacked using lasers, experts warn

FOX News

Fox Business Briefs: Amazon is rolling out new tools to give users control over the stored voice recordings from their Alexa devices, amid a range of different privacy-related concerns. Voice assistants such as Amazon's Alexa, Apple's Siri and Google Assistant can be hacked by shining a laser on the devices' microphones, according to an international team of researchers. Dubbed "Light Commands," the hack "allows attackers to remotely inject inaudible and invisible commands into voice assistants," according to a statement from experts at the University of Electro-Communications in Tokyo and the University of Michigan. By targeting the MEMS (Microelectro-Mechanical Systems) microphones with lasers, the researchers say they were able to make the microphones respond to light as if it was sound. "Exploiting this effect, we can inject sound into microphones by simply modulating the amplitude of a laser light," they wrote in the research paper.

Laser can be used to simulate a human voice and hack into Google Home and other smart devices

Daily Mail - Science & tech

A group of researchers have published results from a shocking experiment that shows how voice controlled smart devices can be operated remotely using targeted laser beams to simulate human speech. The researchers announced Monday that they were able to control a Google Home and command it to remotely open the garage door from a separate building 230 feet away. Also susceptible were Amazon's Echo, Facebook Portal, a range of Android smartphones and tablets, and both iPhones and iPads. The experiments were conducted by a group of scientists from the University of Michigan and The University of Electro-Communications in Tokyo. 'It's possible to make microphones respond to light as if it were sound,' Takeshi Sugarawa, of University of Electro-Communications in Tokyo, told Wired.

Sony's $2,900 robotic dog AIBO will soon be able to turn on microwaves, vacuum cleaners and more

Daily Mail - Science & tech

If you've ever thought turning on your microwave or vacuum cleaner was too hard, the solution may be as easy as spending $2,900 on a robotic dog that will do it for you. That's the operating theory behind Aibo, a robotic pet canine created by Sony, which was released last year. Sony has been continually adding features to Aibo and the latest features will allow the small robotic dog to communicate with a range of household smart appliances to help make life easier for its owners. According to a report from Gizmodo, Sony hosted a demonstration of the new features at the CEATEC show in Tokyo, Japan's largest IT and electronics trade show. One example showed Aibo communicating wirelessly with a smart microwave, telling it to start cooking a snack as soon as its owners come home from a long day.