04.13: Ten must-read stories from Clique and around the voicetech sector

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Ingrid Fadelli

A mind reader, Google’s improved voicetech, and the growth of mobile eSports. This and more in our weekly news roundup

Our carefully curated selection of voicetech articles and snippets from this week on CliqueApi and other respected news sources from around the world.

Mobile eSports. Forget elephants, this is the cash-cow in the room, Clique

A new form of esports is set to open exciting possibilities for investors seeking profitable ventures. This is the potentially lucrative market of mobile esports, which promises to initiate entertaining competitions between casual mobile gamers.

Key industry figures such as Andrew Paradise, co-founder and chief executive of global mobile esports company Skillz, and Jason Lake, founder and CEO of esports organization complexity Gaming, said that, despite a bumpy start, the industry is shifting towards far brighter days.

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Autonomous weapons. AI specialists call halt to going way beyond drones, Clique

A group of academics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) experts from nearly 30 countries worldwide are trying to boycott a collaboration between Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and a renowned defense company, which is aimed at developing “killer robots”.

In an open letter published on the Centre on Impact of AI and Robotics’ website, the researchers expressed their huge concern about the nature of the project backed by KAIST and Hanwha System, saying it could hastily fuel the development of autonomous weapons.

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AlterEgo, the voice tech which can process your internal thoughts, Clique

Researchers from MIT Media Lab have developed yet another unusual and ground-breaking technology, dubbed AlterEgo. The AI-powered device can hear people’s internal vocalizations, responding to their queries in real-time without other people noticing.

To do this, AlterEgo uses electrodes that sense neuromuscular signals associated with users’ internal vocalizations of specific words, as well as a pair of bone-conduction headphones that transfer vibrations back to the user through the bones of the face and inner ear.

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Voicetech in retail, coming to a smartphone near you, Clique

The global retail crisis continues to swallow up stores across the country, but emerging voice technology, location services, and augmented reality (AR) could help to turn the tide around. Terms such as “seamless experience” or “omni-channel” are being used more and more during boardroom meetings, with a growing number of retailers now introducing new technologies into their business strategies.

Clique reports on some retailers’ recent initiatives, discussing ways in which the latest voicetech advances could help to resurrect their physical stores.

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Google launches an improved speech-to-text service for developers, Tech Crunch

Google announced an update to its Speech-to-Text voicetech service, which includes improved performance and new features for developers. When tested by the company, the updated application programming interface (API) showed a reduction in word errors of approximately 54%, with even better performance in some areas.

Google also added a new feature that allows developers to choose between different machine learning models, tailoring the Speech-to-text service to the platform or service they are developing.

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Tencent to launch its own smart speaker, enabling WeChat by voice command, technode

Chinese tech giant, Tencent, is set to launch its own smart speaker, which will include support for functionalities relevant to the Chinese market, for instance allowing users to send WeChat messages via voice command.

According to 36Kr, the speaker is fully portable and contains a battery. Tencent said that the product is currently undergoing a process of internal testing and the associated app is already on Apple’s App Store, but the product’s official launch date is still unknown.

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Wake words and voice UI are coming to our favourite apps, ZDNet

Sensory, a Santa Clara-based tech company, might have solved the battery issues that have so far prevented voicetech interfaces from reaching many mainstream mobile apps. The company has announced a new low-power wake word for Artificial Intelligence (AI) apps, which would allow developers to integrate voice interfaces that respond to wake words into their apps, without consuming too much battery power.

The tool is said to effectively run on both Android and iOS platforms, with possible integrations on any app without special hardware or Digital Signal Processor (DSP).

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Google in talks with India cos to integrate voice assistant, The Economic Times

After the recent release of the Google Home speaker in India, Google is now talking with several companies in the country about integrations of its voice assistant within consumer products such as air-conditioners, fans, and light switches. The company is also working with some Indian telecommunication companies on technology that would allow their clients to use voice commands to find details of their bills and subscription plans.

Google said that the first points of contact for its voice assistant are makers of handsets that run on the Android operating system.

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Spotify’s first hardware device might be this music player for your car, The Verge

This week, Spotify said that it will be sharing important news with the public at an event on April 24th. While what will be unveiled at the event is still unclear, evidence suggests that the music streaming company is working on an in-car controller or standalone music player that would allow drivers to control music with their voice.

Back in February, many Spotify subscribers reported receiving an offer within the app for a new device that would come as part of a new subscription plan.

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Tribe combines arcade games with group video chat, Tech Crunch

An app called Tribe allows users to engage in group video chats with their friends while playing clones of Space Invaders, Flappy Bird, Fruit Ninja, Name That Tune, and more popular games on their smartphone.

After closing a $3 million funding round last year, Tribe adapted its original video messaging app, adding an interesting gaming twist to it. The new Tribe app for iOS and Android lets crews of friends or strangers play some of the most popular old-school games while hearing and seeing each other on screen.

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