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.
Since its founding nearly 15 years ago, Sonos has amassed a devoted following among audio enthusiasts for its high-end, WiFi-connected speakers. But now its business is endangered by a new breed of speakers powered by artificial intelligence assistants from the likes of Google and Amazon. They're starting to eat into the company's bottom line. In the midst of that change, Sonos cofounder John MacFarlane is stepping down as CEO after leading the company since 2002. Sonos president Patrick Spence will be taking over as CEO.
After 14 years at the helm, Sonos CEO and co-founder John MacFarlane has stepped down. He has also resigned from the company's board or directors, but will remain with Sonos to work on other projects and serve as a mentor to employees. MacFarlane's transition is the latest in a handful of personnel moves that began last year. Sonos announced layoffs last March shortly before product head Marc Whitten left the company. Former president and chief commercial officer Patrick Spence will take over as CEO.
The Echo supports five major music streaming services: Amazon Music, Spotify (premium account required), Pandora, iHeartRadio and TuneIn. Install either skill and link your respective Domino's or Pizza Hut account. To order a pie from Pizza Hut, say "Alexa, open Pizza Hut" and then "Alexa, ask Pizza Hut to place an order." For Domino's, say "Alexa, open Domino's and place my Easy Order."
You don't have to be a Go champion to have artificial intelligence change your game. You get in your car, and your Apple iPhone tells you what traffic looks like where you're going--before you ask. We're all on the road with Tesla's self-driving cars, which are redefining what driving means. The artificial intelligence calendar assistant Amy emails three of your friends to figure out a meeting time that works for everyone--and nails it. Thankfully, chatting with Amazon's Alexa is a lot more entertaining than, say, would be Hal, the fictional artificial intelligence from the film 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Google Home may have only been living with us for a short time, but it's quickly becoming our favorite thing in the house. And now it's starting to play a little nicer with the other things we love, with Netflix and Google Photos support beginning to roll out to users. First spotted by Android Police, the update brings a new Videos and Photos tab to the Google Home app's Assistant settings, inside which you will see options for linking your Netflix account and enabling Google Photos. As described in the app, the new features, which require a separate Chromecast and Netflix subscription, will allow users to stream photos to their TV and "play shows and movies by asking your Assistant." Last week, Google announced it was opening its Actions on Google platform, allowing developers to tap directly into the digital assistant to bring voice commands for things like food ordering, news, and shopping, as well as enabling two-way conversations with the device.
John McCarthy once made a telling complaint that still applies to how people have perceived -- or, rather, failed to perceive -- the arrival of artificial intelligence in their lives: "As soon as it works, no one calls it AI anymore." He was more than qualified to carp about the fact, having won the Turing Award and being one of the founding fathers of AI. He even gets credited with coining the very term artificial intelligence back in 1956. Here's how what John McCarthy said relates to what's going on today: Innovations like AI often sneak in on us, gradually merging into the workaday and commonplace. They do it without any of the abrupt upheavals or manic melodramatics we've been conditioned to expect of AI by TV, the movies and (bad) science fiction.
The company is opening its voice-enabled Assistant to developers who can start creating "actions" for the device. Early partners will include media companies like NBC News, Buzzfeed and NPR, as well as consumer apps like Quora, Genius and Todoist. SEE ALSO: Google's data centers, offices will use 100% renewable energy in 2017 The idea is similar to the "skills" developers create for Amazon's Echo line: companies can create "Conversation Actions" that link their services to Google Assistant on Home. Using the actions created by Domino's, for example, you can ask Google Assistant to order you a pizza, or ask for the latest CNN headlines. Unlike Alexa's skills that have to be manually enabled, Google notes that once developers create a conversation action, they're automatically available.
Advances in artificial intelligence algorithms have put chatbots and voice assistants in the spotlight, with investor interest in the space increasing in recent months. Just this month, as of 7/28/2016, 7 bot-focused startups -- including stealth startup Begin and recruitment bot Wade & Wendy -- raised their first VC funding. General Catalyst Partners backed 3 bot startups this year: Begin and Butter.ai, Previously, General Catalyst had funded Digit -- a bot that tracks your spending -- and Angel.ai Betaworks, which backed localized weather bot Poncho and chatbot for teams Howdy, announced a "botcamp", a 10-week mentorship program for bot builders, sponsored by KPCB, General Catalyst, Atomico, RRE, and Breaking News.