According to a new report out of the Wall Street Jounral, speech and dictation service Nuance Communications has held acquisition talks with Samsung and has been exploring the possibility of a sale. It is widely speculated that the Apple’s virtual assistant Siri is powered by Nuance in the back-end. Samsung started partnering with Nuance late in 2013 for the voice recognition functionalities on its Galaxy Gear smart watch and Galaxy Note 3 smartphone.
Two former Stanford University students who created a startup to help doctors use Google Glass to view and update patient records have raised $3.2M in venture capital funding, reports SFGate.
Augmedix’s founders say that physicians currently spend around a third of their time with a patient looking at a computer screen, and that using Glass instead will allow them to spend more time communicating with patients … Read more
Google has rolled out a massive update to its Text-to-Speech Android app that includes a variety of enhancements. The update, which began rolling out to devices yesterday evening, bumps the app to version 3.0. Most notably, this update improves the voice functionality and quality. While the voice was originally rather robotic and boring, this update makes it more fluent and realistic, much like Apple did with Siri in iOS 7. The updated voice is available in several languages and both male and female varieties, but each language and style runs about 200MB, so be sure you’re on WiFi when you download them. The voices are also now available in Portugese (Brazil), and Spanish (United States).
There are some issues with the new voices, however. Android Police notes that commands that contact the Google server for a reply, such as “what is 3+2″, still use the old robotic voice. Local questions, such as “what is my next appointment”, do use the new voices, however.
The user interface has also been tweaked heavily. The voice management screen has been redesigned to show the size of each download, as well as detailed information about the voice.
The update is rolling out gradually on Google Play, so be sure to keep an eye on the Play Store for it to hit your device.
As Google’s Chairman Eric Schmidt makes his own predictions for 2014, I’m turning the subject over to you…the 9to5Google reader. There’s absolutely no shortage of topics to cover or “what ifs” for Google in 2014. Given the various branch directions that Android, Chrome OS and the company itself can go, it’s a loaded question. With recent reports indicating Chrome OS is on the rise, could we see Microsoft running scared in 2014 against the impending threat of low-cost hardware with an operating system that costs manufacturers absolutely nothing?
Update: TechCrunch reports that this video is fake.
Update #2: TechCrunch now reports the video is real and commissioned by Yahoo!, but not a real product yet.
With Yahoo’s acquisition of SkyPhrase, a natural language processing startup this month questions immediately arose as to how Yahoo would incorporate the technology. Now, thanks to a video on Daily Motion discovered by Android Police, we may have our answer as Yahoo prepares a Google Now/Siri voice-controlled personal assistant.
A novel new use for Google Glass: In the operating room, a surgeon does an operation wearing Google Glass and shares the procedure real time with his colleagues and students in a far off classroom via Google Hangouts.
“It’s a privilege to be a part of this project as we explore how this exciting new technology might be incorporated into the everyday care of our patients,” said Dr. Christopher Kaeding. “To be honest, once we got into the surgery, I often forgot the device was there.”
Google Glass has a frame similar to traditional glasses, but instead of lenses, there is a small glass block that sits above the right eye. On that glass is a computer screen that, with a simple voice command, allows users to pull up information as they would on any other computer. Attached to the front of the device is a camera that offers a point-of-view image and the ability to take both photos and videos while the device is worn.
Google is testing a new “card” for its Google Now service that would display local news that’s contextually relevant to the user. It’s not something that users have been able to try out just yet, but Quartz reports that vice president of search and assist at Google Johanna Wright tells them that Google is currently testing the feature internally.
There’s no word on whether or not the Google Now card would some how be integrated with Google’s current News service, but Wright provides an example of how the “hyper-local news card” might function: Read more
Above we see a new ad that Samsung recently aired for its flagship Galaxy S4 in Iceland. The ad itself is a little on the strange side, but what’s not surprising is the fact that Samsung is once again not so subtly going after Apple. The point of the ad, in case you don’t speak Icelandic, is to drive home the fact that Apple doesn’t yet support the language for Siri or dictation features. Samsung’s YouTube description for the ad notes that the S4 allows users to dictate emails and messages in Icelandic, while the tagline for the ad reads “Get a phone that understands you.” We’re not exactly sure where the ninjas fit into that message, however. Read more
Microsoft must be pretty happy with Apple’s decision to include Bing as the default search engine powered web results in Apple’s revamped Siri application heading to iOS 7 this fall. However, what does this all mean for Google? It could very well signal Apple’s increasing desire to cut its reliance on services powered by its biggest competitor in the smartphone space.
Before iOS 7, searching for something with Siri would often turn up the option to search for web results. Doing so would give you results through Safari using your default search engine (which by default is set to Google). Now, in iOS 7, web results will be displayed right in the Siri app, however, they will be powered by Microsoft’s Bing– and not Google. Read more
It’s no surprise that Google would bring its voice search to the web, as it already offers the service on Android and plans to bring it to iOS (Google Search for iOS currently offers real-time voice search but doesn’t support Google Now cards), and tends to have a cross-platform approach to its services as opposed to Apple’s ownership approach to its services.
Sure, Apple does have limited iCloud functionality on Microsoft’s Windows operating system and allows users to manage iCloud from a nicely designed web interface, but Apple only offers Siri on the iPhone 4S and 5, as well as the iPad mini, iPad 3 and 4, and latest iPod touch, though the upcoming release of OS X 10.9 could bring Siri to the Mac just in time to compete with Google Now on the web.
If Nuance gets its way with the just announced ‘Voice Ads’ mobile advertising platform, soon every mobile ad could include Siri-like functionality that lets you communicate with and ask questions about the product being advertised.
Nuance, the company behind the voice recognition module now used in Apple’s Siri, today announced a new project to bring its voice recognition technology to the mobile advertising world. The basic concept of the new platform, which Nuance made available through an SDK for advertising companies, is to bring a two-way, interactive conversation to mobile ads. As highlighted by Nuance in the video above, ads that implement the Voice Ads platform will allow users to engage in a Siri-like conversation with an advertisement:
Nuance Voice Ads gives mobile advertisers and creative agencies an opportunity to go beyond the limitations of the four-inch mobile device screen and create a conversation with consumers through the power of voice recognition. Voice Ads finally creates an opportunity for brands to deepen the relationship with their consumers, with targeted interactive ads that deeply engage their core audience – much in the way that the world’s most popular mobile personal assistants have deepened consumers’ relationship with their mobile phones.
In the demo above, Nuance shows an advertisement for a fictional deodorant brand that uses a magic 8-ball theme to answer any question that users might have. The ad of course ends in a pitch for the product in question, as you might expect. Other ads could allow users to ask specific questions about a product’s release date or specs…
The video above is a quality demonstration of voice searches on Android Jelly Bean.
Jean-Louis Nguyen posted the video, titled “How to impress your friends (or annoy your iOS counterparts): 40+ voice searches thrown at Google on Jelly Bean,” on Google+ yesterday.
“I never make videos, but felt compelled to share the many new voice capabilities on +Android, some of which were not demoed on stage during Google #io12. You may be surprised by some answers, notably those provided by the Knowledge Graph,” Nguyen wrote.