Smart speakers are becoming so popular, more people will use them than wearable tech products this year

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Smart speaker users will reach 76.5 million by 2020, according to the latest eMarketer forecast.

The average smart speaker user is still an older, millennial male, but the devices are gaining traction with younger, Gen X women with kids.

Amazon Echo is the most popular, but is losing share. Google Home will likely slow Echo’s growth.

Smart speaker adoption has been so strong, US adult users will surpass wearable users this year.

Continue reading… “Smart speakers are becoming so popular, more people will use them than wearable tech products this year”

Prime delivery, straight from the moon? Bezos dreams of heavy industry in space

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Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is convinced that one day “we are going to have to leave this planet.” And he believes that his Blue Origin space company can help make it happen.

Outlining his ambitious vision at the Space Development Conference in Los Angeles during a recent on-stage chat with GeekWire‘s Alan Boyle, Bezos said that, ideally, Blue Origin would collaborate with NASA or ESA, Europe’s space agency, to move toward his goal, though he said that if that doesn’t work out, his company would go it alone.

Continue reading… “Prime delivery, straight from the moon? Bezos dreams of heavy industry in space”

Yes, Alexa is recording mundane details of your life, and it’s creepy as hell

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I’m not kicking our smart speaker out of the house just yet, but the consequences of having it in my family’s life are becoming clear.

Since last year I’ve had a smart speaker in my living room—an Echo Dot. My family uses it mostly to ask Amazon’s digital assistant, Alexa, to play music. But after I saw a report that an Alexa-enabled speaker owned by a family in Portland, Oregon, had recorded a conversation and sent it to a contact, I started wondering: what is it picking up on at my house when we’re not talking to it directly?

Continue reading… “Yes, Alexa is recording mundane details of your life, and it’s creepy as hell”

How Amazon is using Whole Foods in a bid for total retail domination

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The Seattle giant believes selling you groceries is the key to selling you everything else.

At 9 a.m. on June 16, 2017, Whole Foods employees packed into the main level of the company’s Austin headquarters. Only an hour earlier Amazon had announced that it was acquiring the high-end natural grocer, and the corporate staffers were as shocked as the rest of the public. Amazon had been militant about leaks during the seven weeks that the two companies had been in negotiations, and the vast majority of those working inside the building had been unaware that the deal was afoot.

Continue reading… “How Amazon is using Whole Foods in a bid for total retail domination”

Alibaba’s futuristic supermarket in China is way ahead of the US, with 30-minute deliveries and facial-recognition payment — and it shows where Amazon is likely to take Whole Foods

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The Chinese tech giant Alibaba is expanding aggressively into physical retail through investments in a variety of product categories to push its “New Retail” strategy of combining online and offline shopping.

Its most critical New Retail venture has been Hema Xiansheng, a futuristic supermarket launched in 2015 that offers free 30-minute delivery and payment using facial-recognition technology.

Deeply integrated with Alibaba’s technology and services, Hema provides a window into where Amazon may try to take Whole Foods in the future.

Continue reading… “Alibaba’s futuristic supermarket in China is way ahead of the US, with 30-minute deliveries and facial-recognition payment — and it shows where Amazon is likely to take Whole Foods”

Amazon rolls out new ways to monetize Alexa’s skills

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All Alexa skills developers can now monetize their voice apps with in-skill purchases, Amazon announced last week.

The introduction of in-skill purchasing allows skills developers to sell premium digital content — such as subscription services or one-time purchases that augment a skill’s free offerings — within an Alexa skill.

Continue reading… “Amazon rolls out new ways to monetize Alexa’s skills”

SoundHound has raised a big $100M round to take on Alexa and Google Assistant

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As SoundHound looks to leverage its ten-plus years of experience and data to create a voice recognition tool that companies can bake into any platform, it’s raising another big $100 million round of funding to try to make its Houndify platform a third neutral option compared to Alexa and Google Assistant.

While Amazon works to get developers to adopt Alexa, SoundHound has been collecting data since it started as an early mobile app for the iPhone and Android devices. That’s given it more than a decade of data to work with as it tries to build a robust audio recognition engine and tie it into a system with dozens of different queries and options that it can tie to those sounds. The result was always a better SoundHound app, but it’s increasingly started to try to open up that technology to developers and show it’s more powerful (and accurate) than the rest of the voice assistants on the market — and get them to use it in their services.

Continue reading… “SoundHound has raised a big $100M round to take on Alexa and Google Assistant”

Google exec issues warning over future of AI

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Google co-founder Sergey Brin sent the message in a letter to Alphabet shareholders (Source: Getty)

One of Google’s top execs and president of Alphabet Sergey Brin has raised concerns about the AI revolution in a letter to Alphabet’s shareholders.

In his annual letter sent to shareholders of Google umbrella organisation Alphabet yesterday, Brin said that “new questions and responsibilities” had been raised about the potential of AI.

Continue reading… “Google exec issues warning over future of AI”

Amazon made an Echo Dot for kids, and it costs $30 more than the original

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Those with an Amazon Echo device in their homes have likely already exposed their children to Alexa. Now, Amazon wants to give kids the opportunity to turn Alexa into their friend with the new Echo Dot Kids Edition. The hockey puck-like smart speaker doesn’t look too different from the original Dot, but it comes with new “Amazon FreeTime” content that gives kids new ways to interact with Alexa and parents more control over those interactions.

New parental controls and FreeTime Unlimited subscription coming soon, too.

Continue reading… “Amazon made an Echo Dot for kids, and it costs $30 more than the original”

Amazon has a top-secret plan to build home robots

Prototypes can navigate from room to room like driverless cars.

Company hopes to start testing bots in homes later this year.

Ten years ago, Amazon introduced the Kindle and established the appeal of reading on a digital device. Four years ago, Jeff Bezos and company rolled out the Echo, prompting millions of people to start talking to a computer.

Now Amazon.com Inc. is working on another big bet: robots for the home.

Continue reading… “Amazon has a top-secret plan to build home robots”

1 out of 5 US homes with wifi now have a smart speaker like the Amazon Echo

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Smart speakers have been a hot ticket item in recent years. Products by Amazon, Google and Apple, which allow consumers to play music, order food and get news just by talking to the device, have already experienced a surprisingly strong adoption in the US market.

This chart by Statista which is based on comScore data, shows that 20% of homeowners with wifi have at least one active smart speaker. That percentage will be inching up as well, if the past few months are any indication of the device’s steadily increasing adoption rate.

Via Business Insider 

Anyone can now create Alexa skills in a matter of minutes

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Amazon on Thursday unveiled “Alexa Skill Blueprints,” code-free templates that any Alexa owner, regardless of experience level, can use to create customized Alexa skills in a matter of minutes.

Amazon included over 20 templates across four categories — Fun & Games, At Home, Storyteller, and Learning & Knowledge — with plans to add more.

Continue reading… “Anyone can now create Alexa skills in a matter of minutes”

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