Items tagged with alexa

New research into the effectiveness and accuracy of Amazon's Echo and Google's Home smart speakers powered by Alexa and Google Now, respectively, shows that the digital assistants have some difficulty understanding and responding to users with accents. This includes regional dialects, but especially people who speak English as a second language. The disparity was brought up by The Washington Post, which shared an anecdote involving a Vancouver resident who was raised in Columbia and has a light Spanish accent. When she would ask Alexa to perform menial tasks, the digital assistant would trip over... Read more...
We are still a few days away from Amazon's annual Prime Day sales event, which kicks off Monday and runs for 36 hours. However, if you're itching for a deal ahead of the big the event and happen to be in the market for a laptop, good news—Amazon has partnered with Acer to bundle a free Echo Dot with the purchase of an Alexa-enabled Nitro, Spin, or Aspire laptop. There are half a dozen laptops to choose from. As an added bonus, each one is currently marked down $50 from their respective MSRPs, so you are saving a chunk of change right off the bat and getting an Echo Dot. On top of all that,... Read more...
Alphabet is one of the largest and most valuable companies on the planet, and at least one Morgan Stanley analyst is suggesting that the company use its cash pile to gain the upper hand in a growing market sector. In this case, Morgan Stanley analyst Brian Nowak says that Alphabet subsidiary Google should give away millions of its Home Mini AI smart speakers.  In fact, he suggests that Google should give away one Home Mini for each American household in order to gain a leg-up on market leader Amazon. Amazon has just over a 60 percent share of the smart speaker market in the United States,... Read more...
Amazon is giving users of the Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10 the opportunity to repurpose their tablets courtesy of an upcoming software update. Show Mode, which will be available in a software update downloadable on July 2nd, in effect turns Fire HD tablets into a fully functional Alexa-powered Echo Show. That means that they will support hands-free Alexa to do everything from providing you with weather forecasts, to real-time traffic information, to controlling your smart home. In order to better facilitate this repurposing of the Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10, Amazon is also launching the Show Mode Charging... Read more...
One of the many things Bethesda showed off at E3 is a new Skyrim experience, though unlike previous versions that are playable on PCs and consoles, the new Skyrim Very Special Edition takes aim at Alexa. Bethesda showed off a trailer featuring comedian Keegan-Michael Key barking out Skyrim commands at his Echo smart speaker, and everyone in attendance got a good laugh. It gets even funnier though, because Skyrim Very Special Edition is not a gag, it's a real skill that Alexa users can download right at this very instant. Let's pull things back a second. It is a gag, in that Bethesda is poking fun... Read more...
A sign of great technology is when it does what you want in a seamless manner, without getting in your way. If a particularly technology is truly great, you'll sometimes forget you're even relying on electronic parts to do your bidding, just as you don't put much though into the head of a hammer of when mashing a nail into a plank of wood. That's the aim with digital assistants, and for Alexa in particular, Amazon is teaching it to know which skill to use even when the user doesn't know which one is most appropriate. This is a new feature for developers called CanFulfillIntentRequest, and it's... Read more...
Amazon and the Alexa voice assistant that powers the device has come under a lot of scrutiny in the past week following a disturbing story that made the news. A woman's private conversation was recorded by her Amazon Echo and was forwarded (unbeknownst to her) to a person on her contact list. Amazon profusely apologized for the invasion of privacy, and provided the following explanation: Echo woke up due to a word in background conversation sounding like "Alexa." Then, the subsequent conversation was heard as a "send message" request. At which point, Alexa said out loud "To whom?"... Read more...
Earlier this week we talked a bit about an issue with an Amazon Echo device that had recorded an audio clip of a woman's conversation and then set the clip to a random contact on her contacts list. The woman was rightfully fearful of the Alexa voice powered device after that incident, and had vowed to never use it again and wanted a refund. Amazon confirmed early on, according to reports, that it had gone through her logs and verified that the incident did, in fact, occur just as she claims. Amazon has now reached out to HotHardware and other tech publications with an update on the situation... Read more...
It looks as though Google is turning the corner with regards to its positioning in the growing AI smart speaker market. Ever since Google Home was first introduced in late 2016, it has played second fiddle to the dominant Amazon Echo family (which originally launched in late 2014). However, new sales numbers coming in this week from Canalys claim that Google Home sales have surpassed the Amazon Echo for the first time. Canalys' numbers are for Q1 2018, during which Google reportedly shipped 3.2 million Google Home devices. Amazon, on the other hand, sold 2.5 million Echo devices during the same... Read more...
A woman from Portland, Oregon has claimed that her Amazon Echo recorded part of her conversation and sent it to a random person on her contact list. The woman claims that she learned about the issue when a person who worked for her husband contacted her at her home after receiving the message and told her that she was “hacked.” Amazon has confirmed that this issue happened and issued the statement, “Amazon takes privacy very seriously,” an Amazon representative told Fox. “We investigated what happened and determined this was an extremely rare occurrence. We are taking... Read more...
The first laptop PCs with integrated Amazon Alexa functionality were announced earlier this year, but Acer is claiming that it is the first manufacturer to actually ship devices to customers. The company announced today that Alexa is preinstalled on Spin 3 and Spin 5 convertibles that are shipping now. In addition to those aforementioned product lines, Acer says that its Aspire, Switch and Swift notebooks along with the Aspire all-in-one desktop will also have Alexa baked in over the coming weeks. Acer is leveraging Intel Smart Sound Technology, which includes an integrated... Read more...
For many people, digital assistants have become a party of daily life—you might have Siri set a reminder for an upcoming appointment on your iPhone, or tell Alexa to order more laundry detergent from Amazon. These AI (artificial intelligence) assistants are becoming more capable by the day as well. But can they be used for nefarious purposes? Perhaps so, and it could happen right under your nose—over the past couple of years, researchers have demonstrated that Apple's Siri, Amazon's Alexa, and Google's Assistant can each receive 'hidden' commands that are undetectable to the human ear.... Read more...
Do you sometimes feel like the world is starting to populate with a bunch of entitled brats? That's an unfair blanket outlook, though no doubt there are some rude children out there who will grow up to be rude adults. It ultimately falls on parents to teach their kids good behavior, and to supplement those efforts, Amazon is rolling out a "Magic Word" update its Echo Dot Kids Edition to encourage using the world "please." Amazon is addressing a concern by parents that digital assistants are essentially teaching kids rude or entitled behavior. Not on purpose, of course, but when you are able to... Read more...
Last year, Microsoft and Amazon announced that their respective AI voice assistants -- Cortana and Alexa -- would be joining forces to combine the best of both ecosystems on Windows 10. This week at Build 2018, Microsoft demonstrated how the pairing with work in the real world, and it isn't as complex as you might expect when combining two competing platforms. In a demo that was conducted by Megan Saunders, GM for Cortana, and Tom Taylor, SVP for Alexa, a Windows 10 PC was configured to "talk" with an Amazon Echo. Saunders was able to speak the command "Open Cortana" to the Echo, after... Read more...
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