Now all your home’s Alexa devices work like an intercom


Amazon’s ‘Drop In’ feature now works across the entire house.

Amazon Alexa users can now use the “Drop In” feature to talk with all of their Echo devices at once, Amazon announced on its blog. Previously, Drop In messages could only be sent to one other Alexa-enabled device at a time — a user with an Alexa device in the bedroom could “drop in” on a device in the kitchen and have a two-way conversation.

Now, you can use a device to send a message to all Echo devices in the house at once. This could be helpful with asking group questions like, “Does anyone want anything from the grocery store?” according to the Amazon blog. To start a group Drop In conversation, you can ask Alexa to “Drop In everywhere.”

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Voice AI systems will be ‘everywhere’ and ‘phones will disappear in 10 years’


Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk claims the AI system will connect us to the internet from anywhere and will enable humans to down their phones and merely speak to access any information or make any purchases

WCIT 2019: Voice driven devices will grow claims Vaynerchuk

Gary Vaynerchuk claims that voice driven AI devices will continue to grow in popularity in the next decade. Speaking at WCIT 2019 the businessman says ‘we will have devices in our homes, offices and cars. It will surprise people quite a bit.’

Voice AI systems will be everywhere around us within the next decade, meaning we only have to speak to get what we want, an AI expert has claimed.

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Restaurants are ignoring calls from Google’s Smart Assistant



 Hello, This Is Robot

Almost exactly a year ago, everyone was flipping out over Google’s newly announced Duplex feature, which basically pretends to be a human assistant in order to make reservations at restaurants or schedule trips to the hairdresser.

But the AI-powered assistant has struggled to win over the hearts of service workers. The Verge reports that restaurants are hanging up on Google’s auto-calling voice assistant — sometimes because they’re creeped out by how lifelike it sounds.

“I was spooked at how natural and human the machine sounds,” server Shawn Watford of Birmingham, Alabama told The Verge. “It was so weird [that] when it called, I immediately hung up.”

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5 important Artificial Intelligence predictions (for 2019) everyone should read



Artificial Intelligence – specifically machine learning and deep learning – was everywhere in 2018 and don’t expect the hype to die down over the next 12 months.

The hype will die eventually of course, and AI will become another consistent thread in the tapestry of our lives, just like the internet, electricity, and combustion did in days of yore.

But for at least the next year, and probably longer, expect astonishing breakthroughs as well as continued excitement and hyperbole from commentators.

This is because expectations of the changes to business and society which AI promises (or in some cases threatens) to bring about go beyond anything dreamed up during previous technological revolutions.

AI points towards a future where machines not only do all of the physical work, as they have done since the industrial revolution but also the “thinking” work – planning, strategizing and making decisions.

The jury’s still out on whether this will lead to a glorious utopia, with humans free to spend their lives following more meaningful pursuits, rather than on those which economic necessity dictates they dedicate their time, or to widespread unemployment and social unrest.

We probably won’t arrive at either of those outcomes in 2019, but it’s a topic which will continue to be hotly debated. In the meantime, here are five things that we can expect to happen:

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SpaceX is flying an artificially intelligent robot named CIMON to the International Space Station


KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — Unlike HAL, it won’t be able to open the pod bay doors.

Its programming is limited, capable of conversation and technical support but not much else, at least for now. And instead of the searing red eye of the super computer gone rogue in Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi film, “2001: A Space Odyssey,” the artificially intelligent robot launched into space Friday has a screen displaying a genial face prone to smiles.

CIMON, as it is known (an acronym for Crew Interactive Mobile Companion), is designed to help astronauts on board the International Space Station perform their work — namely the science experiments they are sent aboard the orbiting laboratory.

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


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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