The smart speaker wars are in full swing, with Amazon and Google dominating most of the market. Amazon's Alexa assistant was first on the scene, but Google Assistant is making progress, particularly with the Home Mini and third-party speakers. According to a report from The Information, Amazon is working on its own AI chip designed to make Alexa-powered devices respond quicker. Read More
VSCO might not be as popular (or ego-driven) as Instagram, but it's made a comfortable name for itself among photography circles. Rather than dig through piles of low-effort content rated by likes or votes, VSCO strips things down to the just the basics: photos, messages, and you. Now the app is making it a bit easier to find the types of photos you might like, too, with a novel Discover feature that is advertised as being able to match emotional and aesthetic content, all powered by VSCO's pretentiously named "Ava" AI. Read More
It's been a bit of a bumpy road for Canary and its connected security cameras. While Rita had mostly nice things to say about the all-in-one camera in her review, the company has since done its best to annoy users (particularly those on the free tier) by changing its subscription model and then backtracking slightly. Perhaps some new features will go some way to win back the trust of its users. Read More
CES 2018 was a busy show, as usual, and so it's understandable that we let a few announcements slip through the cracks. The items in this wrap-up did not fall into the Android TV, Assistant, or Alexa "categories," so they all got lumped into their own miscellaneous one. Some of these are actually pretty neat, even if they are only mildly interesting. Read More
Two of the big trends at CES 2018 were AI and smart home stuff. The former was actually a major buzzword, and it became so overused that I stopped caring (thanks, Huawei/Honor). However, the smart home ecosystem continues to thrive and we saw a ton of new products that are launching with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. This post will focus on Assistant; you can expect the Alexa wrap-up a little bit later. Read More
Google is constantly working on projects with interesting potential, but we rarely get to hear about them at such an early stage in development as this latest one. Google researchers Hee Jung Ryu and Florian Schroff have been developing software on a Pixel phone that uses the front-facing camera to spot someone looking over your shoulder at the screen. Read More
Back in September 2016, Google purchased Speaktoit, a company specializing in natural language technology. The company's main service at the time was API.AI, an SDK that allowed creating voice interfaces for mobile apps. Google re-purposed the tool to create Google Assistant Apps (formerly known as 'Actions on Google'). Read More
When Google acquired British artificial intelligence startup DeepMind back in 2014 nobody was really sure why. It was a secretive company without any consumer-facing products, but it clearly had some technology of interest in Mountain View. DeepMind is now part of the wider Alphabet structure, and now a little bit more is known about what goes on there, including the work it does for Google.
One of the latest projects to come out of DeepMind is called WaveNet, a deep neural network for generating more natural artificial speech recordings, and its use case at Google is obvious. Google Assistant should sound much more human now that WaveNet has been incorporated into it. Read More
Google has been using CAPTCHA and reCAPTCHA for years now to crowdsource information from images it has found online. On the one side, you prove to Google you're a human, on the other, Google gets humans to see small images of text from a book, numbers on a house, or various objects and animals and provide OCR for the text and numbers plus logical grouping and categorization for the objects/animals.
That's the main dig that XKCD's comic today is based on. It's a CAPTCHA but it's asking the user to say if there's a stop sign, just so it can properly use that data to control its self-driving vehicle. Read More
The madness of IFA 2017 may have settled down, but that hasn't stopped Huawei from unveiling its new SoC, the Kirin 970. Under its in-house HiSilicon brand, the Chinese giant seeks to push the boundaries of what is possible with mobile AI. And yes, there are the typical SoC improvements here, too. Read More