TIME


Help! My Son Confuses Me With Amazon's Alexa

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The reasons why aren't mysterious: Modern homes aren't wired for voice assistant technologies, and voice assistants aren't smart enough to govern modern homes. With an embedded microphone, speaker and wireless connectivity, the Smart Switch will place Amazon's voice assistant technology in any room, without the need for wall plugs or smart speakers. When I ask Alexa to turn on the kitchen lights, for instance, Amazon's voice assistant sometimes replies "A few things share that name, which one did you want?" Meanwhile in 2017, Siri can unlock my door, but Alexa can't, and Amazon's voice assistant will water my lawn, while Apple's won't.


Cable Television Needs You More Than You Need Cable Television

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Along those lines, gadgets like Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Google Chromecast are continually being improved to make grabbing everything from Saturday morning cartoons to a Friday night flick easier. As popular as streaming boxes have become, it may be slick new screens like the recently released Element Amazon Fire TV Edition Smart TV that have the best chance of making us kiss our coaxial cables goodbye. Incorporating Amazon's popular Alexa voice assistant technology, the 4K TV, which starts at $450, can do everything an Amazon Echo smart speaker can, and more--like changing the channel or playing your favorite movie using only your voice. Of course boxes like Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and Roku Ultra also have voice control, but the Element lets you simply give a voice command to switch to programming picked up by a digital antenna, a low-cost piece of hardware that lets thrifty TV fans watch local stations, free of charge.


5 Easy Tech Tricks to Make You More Productive

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Add up the dozens of tabs crowding your web browser, the splayed photos from last month's vacation and the overflowing email inbox you're catching up on, and there's never enough screen space. We've all been there: you glance down at your phone to see a dinner invitation from a friend or an email from a colleague, mentally commit to respond later, then forget to. Apple's voice assistant Siri can help. Try a free app like Evernote Scannable or Adobe Scan to scan documents, receipts, business cards, forms and more by using your smartphone's camera.


This Is Microsoft's Gorgeous New Nest Competitor

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Following a demonstration of how its Cortana virtual assistant would work in cars and living rooms last May, the company just revealed it's working on a smart thermostat called GLAS. Contrasted with rivals like the Nest Learning Thermostat and Honeywell Lyric, both of which have round shapes that resemble more traditional thermostats, GLAS appears to be a sleek, transparent touchscreen mounted on a wall. The screen can also be used to summarize energy savings, display a calendar and outline air quality. The news also comes as an increasing number of home devices are adding support for Amazon's Alexa virtual assistant.


New Lip-Syncing Technology Lets Researchers Put Words Into Barack Obama's Mouth

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To demonstrate the power of their project, they transformed the lip movements and gestures of former President Barack Obama in various speeches throughout his political career. "Given audio of President Barack Obama, we synthesize a high quality video of him speaking with accurate lip sync, composited into a target video clip," an excerpt from the video's YouTube description reads. "Trained on many hours of his weekly address footage, a recurrent neural network learns the mapping from raw audio features to mouth shapes. "Given the mouth shape at each time instant, we synthesize high quality mouth texture, and composite it with proper 3D pose matching to change what he appears to be saying in a target video to match the input audio track," the description added.


Microsoft's New iPhone App Helps Blind People 'See' What's Around Them

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Now, the company is applying similar tech to a more practical purpose: making everyday life easier for the visually impaired. Microsoft says Seeing AI can also identify products based on their barcode, a feature aimed at making shopping easier. The app emits a series of beeps to indicate how close the viewfinder is to the barcode, helping users align the camera properly. Earlier this year, the company enhanced its automatic alt text feature to be more accurate in describing Facebook photos.


How to Pick the Amazon Echo That's Right for You

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If you've been contemplating purchasing one of Amazon's voice-enabled Echo smart speakers, now is a particularly good time to pull the trigger. The standard model will cost $89.99 Amazon's portable Tap speaker will be selling for $79.90, a $50 markdown. Here's a brief look at how they compare: Who it's for: Shoppers looking for a decent living room speaker with smart speaker capabilities Amazon's standard Echo is ideal for those who want a smart device that can double as a speaker for playing music. The Show supports free video calling between other Echo owners and anyone with the Alexa app installed on their phone.


Samsung's Rumored Next Bet Faces An Amazon-Sized Challenge

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The South Korean technology giant may be developing a new Amazon Echo-like smart speaker powered by its Bixby virtual assistant, reports the Wall Street Journal. But it's arrival would likely come long after category pioneers like Amazon, Google and Apple have either released or announced plans to launch voice-activated gadgets of their own. But releasing a voice-activated gadget that could prove as popular as the company's lucrative Galaxy phones poses two fundamental challenges: Samsung would be late to a space already dominated by Amazon and Google, and it has yet to prove that it can make a valuable virtual assistant. The company's commanding e-tail empire makes the Echo a prime choice for online shopping, arguably more so than either Google Home, Harman Kardon's Invoke speaker (powered by Microsoft's Cortana assistant), or Apple's forthcoming HomePod device.


Here's Why You Can't Live Without the Amazon Echo

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In his bestselling book, Eyal describes the four steps of the Hooked Model and provides case studies for how the stickiest technologies use hooks to keep users coming back. In this essay, I'll use the Hooked Model to help explain how voice assistants, like Amazon's Alexa, keep us hooked. In fact, an April 2017 study from GfK showed nearly half of Amazon Echo and Google Home users report using their devices "regularly" or "all of the time." Through hundreds of interactions and tiny user investments, Alexa begins to customize itself to each individual's preferences.


facebook-internet-drone-test-flight

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Facebook plans to develop a fleet of drone s powered by sunlight that will fly for months at a time, communicating with each other through lasers and extending internet connectivity to the ground below. The company called the first test, in June 2016, a success after it flew above the Arizona desert for 1 hour and 36 minutes, three times longer than planned. The second test occurred on May 22, Martin Luis Gomez, Facebook's director of aeronautical platforms, said in a blog post. The aircraft flew for an hour and 46 minutes before landing near Yuma, Arizona, with only "a few minor, easily-repairable dings," he said.