voice assistant

How Google and Amazon are 'spying' on you

Daily Mail

You would be forgiven for thinking that your private conversations were just that, but two leading voice assistants are listening to everything you say, a new report claims. Patent applications from Amazon and Google revealed how their Alexa and Voice Assistant powered smart speakers are'spying' on you. The study warns of an Orwellian future in which the gadgets eavesdrop on everything from confidential conversations to your toilet flushing habits. Future versions of gadgets like the Echo and Home will use this data to try and sell you products, it says. You would be forgiven for thinking that your private conversations were just that, but two leading voice assistants are listening to everything you say, a new report claims.

Apple Wants Siri To Detect When Someone Is Whispering -- And Whisper Back

International Business Times

Having Siri answer questions out loud can be helpful, but sometimes too loud for the environment the user is in. A new patent, spotted by Gizmodo, shows Apple is trying to address that inconvenience. The patent reveals Apple is looking into improving Siri by allowing her to detect when a user whispers to her, and in return having the voice assistant whisper back. The documents, titled "Digital Assistant Providing Whispered Speech," details a system that would recognize when a person is using his or her regular voice or when the user is whispering by measuring an input's amplitude and frequency patterns. Whispering to Siri now might pose a problem, since voice assistants usually need to hear commands loud and clear to answer questions or carry out tasks.

Amazon's Alexa Wants You to Talk to Your Ads


There are few electronic devices with which you cannot order a Domino's pizza. When the craving hits, you can place an order via Twitter, Slack, Facebook Messenger, SMS, your tablet, your smartwatch, your smart TV, and even your app-enabled Ford. This year, the pizza monger added another ordering tool: If your home is one of the 20 million with a voice assistant, you can place a regular order through Alexa or Google Home. Just ask for a large extra-cheese within earshot, and voila--your pizza is in the works. Sign up to get Backchannel's weekly newsletter, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

4 smartphones with artificial intelligence to look out for in 2018


AI on smartphones is one of the big trends to look out for in 2018. While AI has numerous uses, on a handheld device, the benefits will be limited initially. Camera benefits This is one of the key areas phone makers are working on with respect to AI. Using AI, the phone's camera interface can detect the subject in the camera frame (landscape, food, fireworks etc.) and accordingly adjust the settings for the best possible image. AI can also identify facial features and automatically enhance them for a superior portrait.

What is the Internet of Things? (And Why You Should Care -- A Lot)


Now, bear in mind that this technology is equipped only to work with Bixby, Samsung's voice assistant. In my humble opinion, Project Ambiance is one small step at the start of a long, productive road toward smart technology's full capabilities. Other manufacturers are working on similar initiatives (such as Baidu DuerOS and Amazon Alexa, which have created tools for developers to build these AI assistants into applications and products) -- eventually, and hopefully, we'll reach a point where technology is developed that can work with any number of voice assistants.

Amazon's Alexa Is A Feminist Who Supports Black Lives Matter, Some Users Are Angry

International Business Times

Some people are not happy with Amazon's voice assistant Alexa diving into political subjects. Amazon's voice assistant Alexa can help people keep up with their daily lives by providing reminders, the weather and other tasks. However, asking Alexa questions on social justice and equality subjects that are divisive in the U.S. has sparked criticism against the voice assistant. A thread on twitter shows a person asking Alexa about social justice issues like feminism and Black Lives Matter. Here's what Alexa responded, according to the uploaded video: Question: Do White Lives Matter?

#MeToo Petition Says Siri, Alexa Should 'Shut Down Sexual Harassment'

International Business Times

A petition calls on Amazon and Apple to reprogram Alexa and Siri so the voice assistants can push back against sexual harasments comments from users toward the voice assistant. The call comes as the #MeToo movement gives a voice to those who have been sexually harassed. Actress Alyssa Milano started the online campaign in October after Miramax co-founder Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual harassment and rape by multiple women. The recent Siri and Alexa petition was launched on Care2 and has more than 6,000 supporters out its 10,000 signature goal. "In this #MeToo moment, where sexual harassment may finally be being taken seriously society, we have a unique opportunity to develop AI in a way that creates a kinder world," the petition said.

Elon Musk Is Right, Artificial Intelligence is Growing Like Crazy


Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is renowned for making dire predictions about how artificial intelligence will be a threat to humankind. While it's not yet self-evolving to the point of being an imminent danger, in 2017 AI did grow like crazy. At least that's the topic several CEOs wanted to mention when asked what they saw as the biggest trends in tech this year. "Automation and artificial intelligence (AI) have a symbiotic relationship and pose both a blessing and a threat to the future of commerce. With innovations in data mining and automation, the ability for large companies to mine data is vastly improving.

When your kid tries to say 'Alexa' before 'Mama'

Los Angeles Times

In Yana Welinder's house, her son will say "Papa' to either her or her husband. "Mama" isn't in his vocabulary yet. But her child, who just turned 1, does have a name for another prominent figure in the household: "Aga." Or, as the rest of us know her, Alexa -- Amazon's voice assistant. Welinder's son can't summon the assistant from the Echo speaker in their San Francisco home on his own.

Snips lets you build your own voice assistant to embed into your devices


French startup Snips is now helping you build a custom voice assistant for your device. Snips doesn't use Amazon's Alexa Voice Service or Google Assistant SDK -- the company is building its own voice assistant so that you can embed it on your devices. And the best part is that it doesn't send anything to the cloud as it works offline. If you want to understand how a voice assistant works, you can split it into multiple parts. First, it starts with a wakeword.