Amazon rolls out new ways to monetize Alexa’s skills


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.

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


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


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.

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


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

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


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


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.

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Alexa Is a Revelation for the Blind


Legally blind since age 18, my father missed out on the first digital revolution.

“Is it ‘Electra?’” my father asks, leaning in close to the Amazon Echo my mother has just installed. Leaning in close is his trademark maneuver: Dad has been legally blind since age 18, the result of a horrible car crash in 1954. He has lived, mostly successfully, with limited vision for the 64 years since.

Continue reading… “Alexa Is a Revelation for the Blind”