natural language

Death of the keyboard? Let's ask Alexa


Voice technology is quickly gaining ground as a primary way we interact with devices. In the zero sum UX game, that's eaten into the dominance of tactile interfaces like touchscreens and keyboards, and a new survey suggests that a surprising portion of consumers expect that keyboards in particular are on their way out. As I lazily cleaned my laptop keyboard this morning while trying in vain not to wake the computer up (yeah yeah ... but who has time to turn their computer off?), all I could think was: Good riddance. The survey, conducted by Pindrop Solutions, which provides phone-based fraud detection and authentication technology for enterprise customers, is the result of 4057 online interviews conducted with a representative sample of people in the UK, USA, France, and Germany. The results outline a market that's been primed by voice assistants and sci-fi depictions for a truly voice-activated technology experience.

Anker's Roav Bolt brings Google Assistant to your car's 12V socket, even with an iPhone


If you want to summon Google Assistant in your car, you basically have two options: Enable "Hey Google" and Smart Lock on your Android phone or launch Android Auto (should you be lucky enough to have a car with it built in). But with the new Roav Bolt, Anker gives us a third option, and even iPhone users can get in on it. Like the Alexa-powered Roav Viva, the Bolt plugs into your car's 12V socket and connects via Bluetooth or an auxiliary jack. A pair of USB ports lets you keep your phone charged while driving, and a single button on the front lets you manually summon Google Assistant. Otherwise, the Bolt is all about its noise-canceling microphones, which should provide better voice pick-up than the mic on your phone.

Best smart speakers: Which deliver the best combination of digital assistant and audio performance?


Your message has been sent. There was an error emailing this page. You don't need to live in a smart home to benefit from a Wi-Fi-connected smart speaker. Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, Cortana, and other digital assistants can help you in dozens of ways, and you don't have to lift a finger to summon them--just speak their names. If you already know you want a smart speaker, scroll down for our top recommendations.

Google Home can gently wake you up using Philips Hue lights


Smart lights still tend to offer a rude awakening if you tie them to your alarm, but Google wants to fix that. It's delivering a promised Gentle Sleep & Wake feature for Home speakers that gradually dims or brightens your Philips Hue lights to provide a more natural rest. Say the right command (such as "turn on Gentle Wake Up," "wake up my lights" or "sleep my lights") and the lights will change over the course of half an hour. You can set specific times if you intend to use it as part of your daily routine. The feature won't be widely available, at least not for a while.

Can science writing be automated?

MIT News

The work of a science writer, including this one, includes reading journal papers filled with specialized technical terminology, and figuring out how to explain their contents in language that readers without a scientific background can understand. Now, a team of scientists at MIT and elsewhere has developed a neural network, a form of artificial intelligence (AI), that can do much the same thing, at least to a limited extent: It can read scientific papers and render a plain-English summary in a sentence or two. Even in this limited form, such a neural network could be useful for helping editors, writers, and scientists scan a large number of papers to get a preliminary sense of what they're about. But the approach the team developed could also find applications in a variety of other areas besides language processing, including machine translation and speech recognition. The work is described in the journal Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, in a paper by Rumen Dangovski and Li Jing, both MIT graduate students; Marin Soljačić, a professor of physics at MIT; Preslav Nakov, a senior scientist at the Qatar Computing Research Institute, HBKU; and Mićo Tatalović, a former Knight Science Journalism fellow at MIT and a former editor at New Scientist magazine.

How to use Google Assistant on your iPhone with Siri


Apple is notorious for not playing nice with other platforms. They have traditionally made access to even the most in-demand services like Google Assistant impossible to iPhone users even though it's widely accepted that "Hey Google" is superior to Siri. Now, thanks to Apple's Shortcuts, the frustration of not having voice access to Google on your iPhone is a thing of the past. Shortcuts is an app on iOS that allows users to basically program their own Siri commands. The list of Shortcuts-compatible apps is growing with time, and while the possibilities are endless if you're willing to tinker with the app, there are lots of great shortcuts to choose from in the app's gallery and across the web.

The Best Smart In-Wall Dimmer Switches of 2019


There are lots of options when it comes to smart lighting, but if you want to do it right, you've got to go with a smart dimmer switch. Even the best smart bulbs become dumb with the accidental flick of a light switch, but these dimmers always stay powered since they have a direct power line. After all of our testing, it's clear that Lutron's Caséta Wireless system (available at Amazon for $99.95) is the best dimmer around. While dimmers, and even smart dimmers, have existed for decades, these new models are taking off thanks to smart assistants like Amazon's Alexa, Apple's Siri, and Google Home, which allow for voice control and remote usage from cell phones and tablets. Even though pretty much all dimmers work the same, there can be big differences in the quality of their app-connected smarts.

The benefits of chatbots in generating sales for start-ups - Information Age


In recent times, the benefits of chatbots have become more understood, especially in the areas of customer services and sales processes. According to statistics, chatbots are predicted to tackle a massive 85% of customer service interactions by 2020. With most early adopters being large corporations such as banks or firms with large customer service arms, the question remains as to whether chatbots are a crucial marketing tool for start-ups, or if growing businesses should invest their money elsewhere? As digital platforms continue to accelerate at an exponential rate, stakeholder engagement has transformed into a '24/7' operation, where unless a start-up has the brand strength to compete with corporate giants, not having a chatbot could be seriously detrimental to growth and sales success – here's why: Chatbots save both time and money, incorporating one into your company website will enable you to provide customers with a fast automated response, improving customer relations or driving potential sales. When developing a chatbot it's important to strike a balance between the technology's advancements and the nuances of language; in order to create an intuitive user experience Remember, the modern-day customer doesn't want to wait for an answer, just as much as a business doesn't want to miss out on a sale.

Behind Every Robot Is a Human

The Atlantic

Hundreds of human reviewers across the globe, from Romania to Venezuela, listen to audio clips recorded from Amazon Echo speakers, usually without owners' knowledge, Bloomberg reported last week. We knew Alexa was listening; now we know someone else is, too. This global review team fine-tunes the Amazon Echo's software by listening to clips of users asking Alexa questions or issuing commands, and then verifying whether Alexa responded appropriately. The team also annotates specific words the device struggles with when it's addressed in different accents. According to Amazon, users can opt out of the service, but they seem to be enrolled automatically.