A layperson’s exploration of all things voice

Category Archives: Cool Stuff

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”…

June 25, 2020

Smart Mirrors? Whoa…

There’s something freaky about this Forbes article that describes how a new set of smart mirrors work. Here’s an excerpt:

These smart mirrors feature varying luminosity levels ranging from cool light (optimal for makeup application) to warm light (perfect for winding down before bedtime), defogging features to reduce mirror steam in less than five seconds and memory function to save one’s ideal light settings for daily use. With a minimally designed icon panel, these mirrors are controlled by touching integrated icon buttons. With a luminosity of >300 Lux [unit of illumination] and gradual adjustments of light color ranging from warm candle light to cool light (2,700 – 6,500 kelvin light color), these mirrors afford illumination as required for the task on hand and time of day.

April 23, 2020

Spotify May Be Building Its Own Voice Assistant

I’m a big music lover – so I was excited to see this voicebot.ai piece indicating that Spotify might be building voice activation into their service. Here’s an excerpt:

The screenshot shared by Wong shows a new Voice sub-menu in the Spotify app where users grant permission for Spotify to use their microphone. Spotify will apparently only listen for the wake word when the app is open on the screen. That’s a big hint as to how Spotify might envision people using the voice service. The only time people are likely to keep Spotify open on their device is when they can’t hold it, such as when they are driving. The voice assistant may also be tied to the device for playing music and podcasts and cars that Spotify announced it was working on a year ago.

The extent of the voice assistant isn’t known, but presumably, it will include search and playback controls. Spotify has yet to share any information about its plans for a voice assistant publicly, so there’s no timeline either, but the foundation is there in the app.

March 30, 2020

Helping Voice Assistants Understand Those With Down Syndrome

“Project Understood” is an undertaking to ensure that the voice movement doesn’t leave those with Down syndrome behind. Here’s an explanation from this page:

The future is voice-first, but not for everyone. Because of their unique speech patterns, voice technology doesn’t always understand people with Down syndrome. Project Understood is ensuring the future of voice technology includes people with Down syndrome. The Canadian Down Syndrome Society is working with Google to collect voice samples from the adult Down syndrome community to create a database that can help train Google’s technology to better understand people with Down syndrome. The more voice samples we have, the more likely Google will be able to eventually improve speech recognition for everyone.

December 10, 2019

Famous Talking Robots From Over the Years…

I’ve been blogging a lot about this free 48-page playbook by “360i” about what you should know about voice from a marketing perspective. Today I focus on the chapter on page 70 that provides a historical look at TV and movie robots that have talked to us over the years – from “Robbie the Robot” and “R2-D2” to “WALL-E” and “Westworld”…

August 27, 2019

The “Echo Look”: Helping You Dress Since ’17

Sometimes you see something new-fangled & you pause and say “what?” That’s how I felt about Amazon’s “Echo Look.” To be fair, I read about it before I saw one in action. And I’m a typical guy who doesn’t care how he dresses much (a lot of t-shirts). But after seeing this video showing how it works, it piqued my interest.

The “Echo Look” will take pictures (or a short video) of you trying on an outfit using a voice-activated camera (“Alexa, how do I look?”). It will brighten the pic & blur the background so the picture looks good. You can then perform a “Style Check,” which uses machine learning comparing two of your outfits (based on the pictures you just took) against current style trends & what flatters you.

The device also can create a “Personal Look Book” to help you keep track of your favorite outfits. Crazy for a guy like me to do so, but I had to get one. Well almost. I read the reviews and you can’t crop the photos nor do the photos get saved to your phone’s “photo gallery” automatically. But I was tempted because comments said they took very nice selfies. I’m the self-proclaimed “Selfie King.”

And I don’t care about fashion advice – but if I did, it sounds like that feature doesn’t work that well if you believe this comment:

Let me put it this way. When you are buying a high-end product with some huge AWS AI neural network behind it you expect it to be something more than a selfie-taker! I want conversations like:

– Alexa, how am I looking?
– I think that black skirt you were wearing last Sunday would match this top better

– Alexa, am I underdressed for a friends wedding?
– I think high heels would suit better than flip-flops for this occasion.

I want it to have some sort of intelligence, not just randomly assigned percentage score for each look.