Engadget is testing all the major AI assistants


Hardly a day goes by that we don't cover virtual assistants. If it's not news about Siri, there's some new development with Alexa, or Cortana or Google Assistant. For one week, we asked five Engadget reporters to live with one of the major assistants: Apple's Siri, Amazon's Alexa, the Google Assistant, Microsoft's Cortana and Samsung's Bixby. This week Engadget is examining each of the five major virtual assistants, taking stock of how far they've come and how far they still have to go.

Inside Microsoft's AI Comeback


But while his peer scientists Yann LeCun and Geoffrey Hinton have signed on to Facebook and Google, respectively, Bengio, 53, has chosen to continue working from his small third-floor office on the hilltop campus of the University of Montreal. Shum, who is in charge of all of AI and research at Microsoft, has just finished a dress rehearsal for next week's Build developers conference, and he wants to show me demos. Shum has spent the past several years helping his boss, CEO Satya Nadella, make good on his promise to remake Microsoft around artificial intelligence. Bill Gates showed off a mapping technology in 1998, for example, but it never came to market; Google launched Maps in 2005.

How Amazon won the voice war -- for now


Amazon's Echo and Dot connected speakers are sold out, and 35 new products will have Alexa built-in this year. Did Alexa win over Siri, Cortana and Hey Google? LOS ANGELES -- Apple's Siri has been around five years, but Amazon's Alexa is the coolest kid on the voice- computing block now. At least, so it seemed at this month's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where many manufacturers touted their Alexa functionality as a major selling for 35 new product introductions, including a car, refrigerator, smartphone, robot, Internet router and vacuum cleaner. "There's a real hunger for the next big thing," says Benedict Evans, a partner with investment firm Andreessen Horowitz.

Microsoft: We will democratize AI


Is artificial intelligence and conversational computing the next great frontier in IT? Microsoft believes so; the company is bullish on AI and is doubling down on opportunities it sees for the technology. "Our goal here is democratizing AI so that we make AI available for everyone," including developers, consumers, and businesses, said Harry Shum, executive vice president in Microsoft's AI and Research Group. The company officially introduced its Zo chatbot, an AI-driven, English-speaking conversation partner that is a follow-up to Tay, which had been contorted into misuse and abuse. More than 115,000 people have already been using Zo, according to Microsoft. With bots, developers can build applications offering interactive services and human-to-computer conversations.

Has Nokia got Siri and Cortana in its sights with Viki digital assistant? ZDNet


Nokia's trademark application for Viki comes just as the new Android-powered 5.5-inch Nokia 6 launches. A new trademark application by Nokia suggests the former mobile-device giant could be building a phone-based digital assistant called Viki. Nokia filed the European trademark application for the name Viki just ahead last week's launch of the new Android-powered 5.5-inch Nokia 6 from HMD Global, the sole licensee of Nokia handsets, which plans to sell its first Nokia mobile exclusively in China this year for around $250. Nokia's involvement in the new phones is limited to branding and IP. However, the new trademark application could suggest it still may be eyeing a prominent place on Nokia-branded Android devices via Viki, which could be its answer to artificial intelligence-powered digital assistants such as Amazon's Alexa, Apple's Siri, Google's Assistant, and Microsoft's Cortana.

Waiting for Alexa 2.0 (and Other Voice AI Assistant Improvements)


There's nothing like a new holiday gift to start the "What if" train, and the arrival of an Amazon Alexa Echo on December 25 was clearly an eye-opener. The Amazon Echo is a sweet piece of hardware and the only place it can go is up. For those who haven't seen the Echo (or got a Google Home instead), it is a round tall black cylinder about a foot plus high, containing seven or so microphones plus a beautiful set of speakers. Echo is always-on, always listening for voice commands triggered by the keyword "Alexa" to invoke recording and processing. It is fair to say everyone has only begun to scratch the surface of a virtual assistant through a dedicated appliance (i.e.

Microsoft's connected car platform will put Cortana on the road


Microsoft's next big push into the automotive space won't be a Redmond-made self-driving car. Instead, the company hopes to provide the backbone for a whole suite of cloud-based services that automakers can use to enhance the driving experience in their own connected vehicles. In an announcement at CES on Friday, the company unveiled the Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform to handle everything from predictive maintenance to "in-car productivity" and advanced navigation. "This is not an in-car operating system or a'finished product;'" Microsoft's EVP for Business Development Peggy Johnson wrote in the announcement. "It's a living, agile platform that starts with the cloud as the foundation."

CES 2017: Amazon's virtual aide Alexa shouts above rivals

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Virtual assistants are everywhere at CES this year - but one speaks louder than the rest. Amazon's Alexa has popped up in a bewildering list of devices including fridges, cars and robots. Manufacturers are clearly interested in making their appliances voice-operable, and many see Alexa as a great way to do this. But having Alexa also allows the appliances to gain capabilities, such as streaming music and turning smart lights on and off. How did Alexa come out on top and how will it benefit Amazon?

CES Dispatches 2.0: A New Kind of Robot Invasion


OZY and Giant Spoon are excited to partner on special live coverage from CES 2017-- where the most forward-looking technology and media come together. Rather than cover just the latest gadgets, though, we're taking you deeper with key takeaways, little-known rising stars, unconventional trends and, yes, the coolest sh*t from the convention. Erin Hauswirth and Nathalie Con are associate directors at Giant Spoon, an innovation-driven marketing agency. Our obsession with robots hasn't faltered since the first Consumer Electronics Show opened its doors half a century ago. But we dreamed that the future of robots would look more like Rosie Jetson or C-3PO -- humanoid bots that roamed and lived among us.

Hey Alexa, what are your competitors doing?


Internet-connected intelligent gizmos had a big showing at this year's Consumer Electronics Show, and there is one common thread between many ofthem: Amazon's Alexa virtual assistant. Lenovo has a new speaker featuring the assistant. Volkswagen and Ford are building Alexa into their cars. Plus, there's a whole flotilla of other connected devices featuring Alexa, including a high-tech refrigerator from LG. That's not to say other virtual assistants aren't doing the same thing, but Amazon is the clear winner by volume at CES. So, what does that mean for the virtual assistant market, which includes competitors such as Microsoft's Cortana, the Google Assistant and Apple's Siri?