VoiceReallyMatters.com

A layperson’s exploration of all things voice

Category Archives: Cool Stuff

March 2, 2021

Social Audio Is Here! My Vid-Guide: “How Clubhouse Works (& Whether It’s Worth It)”

With voicebot.ai reporting that Clubhouse has surpassed 10 million members – I am among them – I put together this 12-minute video explaining how Clubhouse works and my ten cents about whether you should try it. With a few bonus tips if you do indeed give it a “go”…

January 14, 2021

Amazon Alexa’s “Natural Turn Taking” is Nice!

Here’s a piece from voicebot.ai about how Amazon Alexa has a new functionality that allows for “taking turns” and preferences – see this excerpt:

There is turn taking today when conversing with Alexa. The user speaks then Alexa speaks. That is followed by the user and back to Alexa and so forth. It’s highly structured and doesn’t accommodate interruptions, tangents, or trackbacks very well. The current model is decidedly unlike how humans interact in conversation. Natural turn taking is definitely more accommodating to the vagaries of human conversation.

As good as the natural turn taking demo was, the feature that will probably have a bigger impact is the ability to teach Alexa your preferences. This is long overdue. For Alexa to be a truly personal assistant, it needs to know personal preferences. This knowledge can help make Alexa more useful every day. Prasad demonstrated this feature as well telling Alexa what he meant by certain phrases. However, the practical benefits of Alexa remembering your preferences are easily overshadowed in a two-minute demo by the scope of changes required to support natural turn taking.

December 15, 2020

‘Voice-Activated’ Museum Opens in DC

Since it’s here in my backyard, I’ve got to blog about it. Here’s an excerpt from this article by Voicebot.ai:

Planet Word combines stories with technology in ten learning galleries. An interactive conversation with a wall of words relates the history and development of English, using what visitors say to pick out words to spotlight with the embedded lights. Technology is also crucial to an exhibit with smart paintbrushes for drawing words. Visitors can also practice virtual conversations with speakers of rare languages.

On the performative end, visitors can show off their own speech-giving talents in a soundproof room with a teleprompter that plays eight famous speeches or in a poetry nook in the library, as well as visit a karaoke area for learning about songwriting and performing their favorites. Outside, artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer installed a metallic weeping willow that continually plays 364 voices in almost as many languages. The museum is inside the Franklin School, a very appropriate choice as it was there that Alexander Graham Bell told Watson he needed him in the first-ever wireless voice transmission.

December 1, 2020

Twitter Introducing Voice Chatrooms

Here’s the intro from this article from “The Verge”:

Twitter plans to take on Clubhouse, the invite-only social platform where users congregate in voice chat rooms, with a way for people to create “spaces” for voice-based conversations right on Twitter. In theory, these spaces could provide another avenue for users to have conversations on the platform — but without harassment and abuse from trolls or bad actors, thanks to tools that let creators of these spaces better control the conversation.

The company plans to start testing the feature this year, but notably, Twitter will be giving first access to some of the people who are most affected by abuse and harassment on the platform: women and people from marginalized backgrounds, the company says.

In one of these conversation spaces, you’ll be able to see who is a part of the room and who is talking at any given time. The person who makes the space will have moderation controls and can determine who can actually participate, too. Twitter says it will experiment with how these spaces are discovered on the platform, including ways to invite participants via direct messages or right from a public tweet.

October 28, 2020

Alexa Can Allow You to Print Stuff & Other Commands to Take Action…

Here’s the intro from this voicebot.ai article:

Amazon’s new Alexa Print feature extends the voice assistant into the physical realm with a slew of new commands that allow the AI to offer a physical response to a question or request. Alexa can print calendars, coloring books, recipes, and puzzles by voice command, a third dimension to the digital audio, and screen responses available on smart speakers and smart displays. The update also allows voice app developers to augment their Alexa skills with printing commands, first promised by Amazon a year ago.

September 29, 2020

IBM’s Watson Virtual Assistant Answers Voter Questions

Here’s the intro from this voicebot.ai article:

U.S. voters confused about the logistics for the November 3 election may get their answers from IBM’s Watson AI. IBM has created an election-focused version of its virtual assistant to handle questions of that nature using its natural language processing to understand and respond to voice and text queries about where and how to vote. IBM is offering a version of the virtual assistant to states for free until after the election.

July 29, 2020

How Artificial Intelligence Can Boost Marketing Efforts

This Forbes article is about artificial intelligence, not voice – but I found it compelling. And a little bit scary. Anytime I read about how you can so easily manipulate the content in videos – the “deep fake” – it frightens me. Although I guess that should be the least of my worries these days. Here’s the ending from the piece:

These examples show that artificial intelligence, when used creatively, can do more than the grunt work. It is a way to build relationships with customers on a personal level while at the same time scaling at large in a cost-effective way. It’s important to go beyond equating AI to only chatbots and have conversations around how AI can actually work in service of brands and, in turn, be used to better their customer’s experience.

We should continue to have meaningful discussions around deepfakes and setting up safeguards and ethics around synthetic media. But, we must also move the conversation beyond just focusing on that element of synthetic media. It’s also time for brands and businesses to better understand the broader trends that are on the horizon, so they are prepared for the future of marketing to come.

July 7, 2020

Have Alexa Pre-Announce Each Song You Hear…

This C-Net article provides five “music hacks” to better leverage music when you use Alexa to listen to it. My favorite is this one:

When you’re listening to a new song you’ve never heard, it can be annoying to interrupt the song by asking Alexa what it’s called or who sings it. However, with a feature called Song ID, Alexa will announce the artist and name of the track before playing the song. To enable, say, “Alexa, turn on Song ID.”

The article also suggests a dozen fun music-related questions to ask Alexa, such as “Alexa, who is Jessie’s girl”…