Subscribe to:

Subscribe to :: TheGuruReview.net ::

Cisco Adds Voice Assistant To Videoconferencing

November 6, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Virtual assistants are popping up everywhere as Alexa, Siri, Cortana and Google Assistant get better at quickly retrieving information and helping to organize things. Joining them in the office are smart assistant chatbots, which are being integrated into a variety of enterprise applications.

Now, Cisco wants to bring the power of voice-activated A.I. smarts to conference rooms with its Spark Assistant.

The idea is for Spark Assistant to take some of the pain out of setting up meetings by allowing voice commands to be used to call colleagues or start, join and leave meetings without interacting with physical devices. The A.I. assistant is activated with a simple, “Hey, Spark.”

The service is the result of Cisco’s $125 million acquisition of MindMeld earlier this year. With Spark Assistant, the startup’s conversational A.I. tools will be incorporated into Cisco’s Spark Room Series video conference displays.

Cisco plans to add features in the future, interacting with users both inside and outside of the meeting room. This includes the ability to find and book available rooms, suggest relevant documents ahead of time, enable screen sharing, record discussions and take meeting notes.

“User interfaces continue to evolve from command line, menus and touch to voice and gestures,” said IDC research director Wayne Kurtzman. “Cisco Spark Assistant signals the inevitable, that intelligent voice should be adapted to the workplace.”

The smart assistant will initially be rolled out to a small group of Spark Room Series early next year. A phased rollout will provide Cisco with feedback, and help to improve accuracy and usability, the company said in a blog post.

The capabilities of Spark Assistant bear similarities to Microsoft’s plans to bring cognitive capabilities to its Teams group messaging platform. Along with announcing plans to merge its Skype for Business platform with Teams, Microsoft stated that improved A.I. capabilities will highlight relevant documents prior to meetings, record and transcribe conversations, and subsequently add notes and transcriptions to Teams channels.

More widely, virtual assistant chatbots are making their into a range of business uses outside of the collaboration space, such as in the CRM market with Salesforce’s Einstein platform,

Alan Lepofsky, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research, said that A.I.  assistants are increasingly being tailored to specific use cases.

“We’ve seen voice-enabled assistants specific to devices and operating systems, but now we’re starting to see application-specific helpers,” said Alan Lepofsky, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research. “These in-app-assistants have more specific domain expertise than their general A.I. counterparts. This is analogous to the medical world, where you have general physicians and then more specialized experts.”

The advantage of A.I. assistants designed for more targeted use cases is they can be better trained to perform specific tasks. Business meetings, which employees tend to find laborious and ineffective, are one such example.

“Ideally, digital assistants will be able to automate the mundane components of a meeting and let people focus on the agenda and relationships,” Lepofsky said.

Amazon, Google Take Feud Public

September 28, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

In a rare public feud between titans of technology, Amazon.com Inc said on Tuesday its Echo Show devices could no longer play videos from YouTube because the site’s parent, Google, stopped supporting the service.

The spat is the latest in Silicon Valley in which competitive tensions stood in the way of customers. Amazon and Google square off in many areas, from cloud computing and online search, to selling voice-controlled gadgets like the Echo Show.

In a statement, Amazon said, “As of this afternoon, Google has chosen to no longer make YouTube available on Echo Show, without explanation and without notification to customers. There is no technical reason for that decision, which is disappointing and hurts both of our customers.”

Google, owned by Alphabet Inc, said instead that the development was no surprise.

 “We’ve been in negotiations with Amazon for a long time, working towards an agreement that provides great experiences for customers on both platforms,” it said in a statement. “Amazon’s implementation of YouTube on the Echo Show violates our terms of service, creating a broken user experience. We hope to be able to reach an agreement and resolve these issues soon.”

The Echo Show had displayed YouTube videos without integral features, from video recommendations to channel subscriptions. Google has been in a similar dispute with Microsoft Corp in the past.

It was not clear how many customers were affected. Amazon only started selling the Echo Show in June, which comes with a touchscreen and responds by voice command.

Amazon’s suite of Echo devices, including the Echo and Echo Dot, have outsold the voice-controlled Google Home, according to research firm eMarketer. Amazon has ambitions to make it normal for people to control computers by voice – and to place orders for its online retail business by voice, too.

“It’s a bit of a blow to Amazon,” said analyst Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research. “YouTube is one of the big video services that they had in addition to their own. For that to disappear means a big chunk of the possible video content you could watch on Echo Show is now gone.”

The Verge, a technology news website, earlier reported the news.

Google Assistant Comes To Bose Premium Headphones

September 22, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Last month Bose accidentally leaked shots in a newsletter of what appeared to be a new version of its top noise-canceling headphone, the QuietComfort 35. The tip-off was an extra button on the headphones that tech sleuths speculated had something to do with a possible voice assistant.

Now Bose has officially announced the not-so-secret QuietComfort 35 II or QC35 II and told us that the new “Action” button on the left ear cup allows you to connect to your Google Assistant without “having to grab your phone, unlock it, and find the app.” And that wasn’t the only Bose news of the day: It also introduced the SoundSport Free, a set of totally wireless Apple AirPods competitors.

Aside from that new button on the QC35 II, nothing has changed, Bose says. The price is still $350 (£330, AU$500). The headphone sounds the same as its predecessor, has the same noise canceling and battery performance (up to 20 hours) and the same controls on the right ear cup — audio volume and the multi-function button for incoming calls and accessing Siri.

Google Assistant is available for Android and iOS devices and is similar to Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. Instead of talking to your phone to access Google Assistant, you just press and hold the Action button on the QC35 II and issue commands. The QC35 II’s advanced microphone system “picks up voices with remarkable accuracy, so commands are understood,” Bose says. And the headphone’s noise cancellation “dramatically reduces sound around you,” making the Google Assistant experience more personal and immersive.

Tomer Amarilio, product manager for Google Assistant, posted a blog about the first headphones that are “optimized for the Assistant” where he details some of Google Assistant’s potential uses with the QC35 II. Presumably, other Assistant-optimized headphones are in the works.

The Bose QC35 II is available now in black and silver. Bose notes that the QC35 II’s Action button will access the Google Assistant only in markets where Google Assistant is available. In other markets, the Action button will control noise settings only.

Amazon’s Alexa Takes On Rival Google’s Android OS

January 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Amazon.com Inc’s digital assistant popped up just about everywhere at the CES technology show this week in Las Vegas, even making an unexpected appearance on rival Google’s Android system.

Companies ranging from appliance maker Whirlpool Corp to Ford Motor Co unveiled products featuring Alexa, the digital assistant from Amazon that responds to voice commands.

Most strikingly, Chinese firm Huawei Technologies Co, which manufactures smartphones running on the Android operating system produced by Alphabet Inc’s Google, announced that its flagship handset will come with an app that gives users access to Alexa in the United States.

 The adoption of Alexa by a prominent Android manufacturer indicates that Amazon may have opened up an early lead over Google as the companies race to present their digital assistants to as many people as possible, analysts said.

Many in the technology industry believe that such voice-powered digital assistants will supplant keyboards and touch screens as a primary way consumers interact with devices.

While the shift is only in the early stages, Google must establish a strong presence quickly, particularly on Android devices, to maintain its dominance in internet search, said analyst Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research.

“To the extent that voice becomes more important and something other than Google’s voice assistant becomes the most popular voice interface on Android phones, that’s a huge loss for Google in terms of data gathering, training its AI (artificial intelligence), and ultimately the ability to drive advertising revenue,” he said.

Alexa debuted on the Amazon Echo smart speaker, and Amazon is establishing a broad array of hardware and software partnerships around it. The competing Google Assistant launched last year on the company’s Pixel smartphone, after appearing on Google’s messaging app, and has begun to roll out to third-party devices as well. Graphics processor maker Nvidia Corp announced at CES that its Shield television will feature the assistant.

While Google has expressed an interest in bringing its assistant to other Android smartphones, the decision to debut the feature on its own hardware may have strained relations with manufacturers, Dawson said.

“It highlights just what a strategic mistake it can be for services companies to make their own hardware and give it preferential access to new services,” he said.

T-Mobile Profits Rise

August 4, 2015 by  
Filed under Mobile

T-Mobile US has had a good quarter with a 14 per cent jump in revenue to $8.2 billion and net income of $361 million.

It It all seems to back CEO John Legere’s aggressive Uncarrier marketing campaign.

For those who came in late his adverts say things like: “While the carriers continue to use gimmicks to confuse consumers, T-Mobile continues to listen to customers and respond with moves that blow them away.”

To be far though US carriers are famous for being such bastards that even light will bend to avoid touching them, it should be easy to show them up.  Still we have heard moans about T-Mobile too.

T-Mobile US made 2.1 million net additions in the second quarter, including 1 million postpaid users. And the operator increased its full-year guidance for postpaid net adds to 3.4 million – 3.9 million, from 3.0 million – 3.5 million.

Subscriber growth lifted revenue in the quarter, including service revenue up by 12 per cent to $6.1 billion.

T-Mobile US also generated net income of $361 million, down from $391 million in the year ago period although the 2014 figure was boosted by a disposal of spectrum that netted $747 million, partially offset by a decrease in income tax expense in Q2 2015.

On a sequential basis, the operator was back in the black following a loss of $63 million in Q1 2015.

The operator said it will remain profitable in Q3 and Q4, and full-year 2015.

 

T-Mobile Fined $17.5M For 911 Outages

July 20, 2015 by  
Filed under Mobile

T-Mobile USA will pay a $17.5 million fine in a settlement with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission for two 911 emergency dialing outages on the company’s cellular network last year.

The separate but related outages left T-Mobile customers without the ability to dial in to emergency response centers for about three hours. In the settlement, T-Mobile agreed to strengthen its 911 service procedures and adopt compliance measures ensuring it adheres to the FCC’s 911 service reliability and outage notification rules in the future, the agency said.

The settlement represents the largest fine that the FCC has assessed against a carrier in connection with a 911 outage.

The FCC has “no higher priority than ensuring the reliability and resilience of our nation’s communications networks so that consumers can reach public safety in their time of need,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a press release. “Communications providers that do not take necessary steps to ensure that Americans can call 911 will be held to account.”

T-Mobile’s network suffered two 911 outages on Aug. 8, 2014. Both outages were nationwide outages, affecting almost all of T-Mobile’s then 50 million customers. It’s unclear how many T-Mobile customers tried to call 911 during the outages.

T-Mobile, in a statement, said the safety of its customers is “extremely important and we take the responsibility to provide reliable 911 service very seriously.”

The company said it has made “significant changes and improvements across a number of our systems” since last year and will continue working to improve those systems.

The FCC Enforcement Bureau found that T-Mobile did not provide timely notification of the outages to all affected 911 call centers, as required by FCC rules. The investigation also found that the outages would have been avoided if T-Mobile had safeguards in its 911 network architecture.

The compliance program in the settlement requires T-Mobile to develop new processes to identify risks that could result in disruptions to 911 services, detect future outages and take remedial actions, including prompt notifications to affected emergency call centers.

 

 

 

 

Google Moves To Get Rid of CAPTCHA

December 5, 2014 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Google announced that it is trying to get rid of those annoying CAPTCHAs required by websites, which is short for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.

Instead of requiring that users fill in the letters and numbers shown in a distorted image, sites that use Google’s reCAPTCHA service will be able to use just one click, answering a simple question: Are you a robot?

“reCAPTCHA protects the websites you love from spam and abuse,” wrote Vinay Shet, product manager for Google’s reCAPTCHA service, in a blog post. “For years, we’ve prompted users to confirm they aren’t robots by asking them to read distorted text and type it into a box… But, we figured it would be easier to just directly ask our users whether or not they are robots. So, we did! ”

Google on Wednesday began rolling out a new API that rethinks the reCAPTCHA experience.

CAPTCHA “can be hard to read and frustrating for people, particularly on mobile devices,” said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research. “People often have to put in the text several times. On the surface, this seems a good way to improve the user experience. It still requires human intervention, just something simpler.”

CAPTCHAs were created to foil computer programs that hackers or spammers use to troll for access to websites or to collect email addresses.

Google said CAPTCHAs are less useful than they have been, although they are still frustrating to everyday users.

“CAPTCHAs have long relied on the inability of robots to solve distorted text,’ wrote Shet. “However, our research recently showed that today’s artificial intelligence technology can solve even the most difficult variant of distorted text at 99.8% accuracy. Thus distorted text, on its own, is no longer a dependable test.”

The new API, along with Google’s ability to analyze a user’s actions — before, during, and after clicking on the reCAPTCHA box — let’s the new technology figure out if the user is human or not.

“The new API is the next step in this steady evolution,” Shet stated. “Now humans can just check the box and in most cases, they’re through the challenge.”