Amazon’s Josh Miele and Anne Toth talk Alexa and the future of accessibility at Sight Tech Global

When Alexa launched six years ago, no one imagined that by today there would be hundreds of millions of Alexa-enabled devices or that Alexa would become part of so many lives. For people who are blind or visually impaired, voice assistants are a huge convenience, whether you are calling a loved one, cooking a meal, checking a sports score, or asking for the weather or time. This fall, Alexa introduced personalization and conversational capabilities that are steps toward a more human-like, digital factotum.

It’s exciting to announce that Amazon’s Josh Miele, Principal Accessibility Researcher at Amazon’s Lab126, and Anne Toth, Director of Amazon’s Alexa Trust, will be speaking at Sight Tech Global, a virtual, global event that addresses how rapid advances in technology, many of them AI-based, will influence the development of accessibility and assistive technology for people who are blind or visually impaired.

The show,

Read More
Read More

Every new Alexa feature announced at Amazon’s fall hardware event: Hunches, Guard Plus and more

amazon-logo-seattle

Amazon

Amazon’s annual hardware event has come and gone, with a slew of product announcements, from a brand new Echo speaker and Echo Show display, to a cloud-based gaming platform. But the star of Amazon’s smart home is, as always, Alexa. Amazon’s voice assistant continues to expand its reach, connecting with over 140,000 smart home devices, and boasting more than 100 million Alexa-compatible devices installed across its user base. But Alexa’s power isn’t just in its rapidly growing scale and ever-expanding reach.

When I spoke to Daniel Rausch, Amazon’s vice president of smart home and Alexa mobile, before the hardware event, he said Alexa is becoming more independent too. Alexa will soon be able to act on Hunches without asking, to listen for and react to sounds other than a wake word, and to protect your home more actively with an upgrade to Alexa Guard.


Now

Read More
Read More

Amazon launches Alexa smartphone app features for car commuters

In a blog post this morning, Amazon unveiled two new car-focused features for its Alexa voice assistant. Auto Mode turns the Alexa smartphone app into a responsive, driver-friendly display, while Start My Commute provides on-demand weather, traffic updates, and choice of entertainment. Auto Mode will be rolling out on iOS and Android customers in the U.S., Canada, Germany, France, India, Italy, Spain, UK, Australia, and New Zealand in the coming weeks while Start My Commute will initially only be available in the U.S. when it launches in the same time frame.

The new capabilities come as car sales skyrocket during the pandemic. As the New York Times reports, buyers are snatching up used vehicles as second or third cars so they can avoid trains, buses, taxis, and other potentially high-risk infection vectors. Others are purchasing used rather than new to save cash in an uncertain economy. In any case, in

Read More
Read More

Luna, a Ring camera drone, new Alexa features: Everything Amazon announced this fall

Amazon surprised us at its Fall Devices and Services event with its new Luna cloud-gaming service, along with the expected updates to its line of Echo, Fire TV and Ring products. The event helps Amazon generate buzz as we roll into the holiday shopping season, and for the first time, Prime Day. (The annual sale is usually held in July, but this year it is slated to start on Oct. 13.) That means putting Alexa everywhere — inside homes and out — and addressing privacy concerns, which were big storylines in 2019 for both Ring and Alexa. In today’s life-at-home existence, with millions of us hunkered down for the long haul, the connected house concepts that Amazon has been developing for years have become more relevant than ever. 

screen-shot-2020-09-24-at-1-09-09-pm.png

Amazon/Screenshot by Caitlin Petrakovitz/CNET

The company’s Echo and Fire TV products will be its first to earn sustainability badges, and

Read More
Read More

InnoMedia Announces the BuddyTalk BT110 Speakerphone with Alexa Built-in for Offices and Conference Rooms

MILPITAS, Calif., Sept. 29, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — InnoMedia, a leading supplier of VoIP communication devices, is pleased to showcase its newest Alexa Voice Service (AVS) enabled speakerphone, the BuddyTalk BT110.

BT110
BT110

With smartspeaker functionality powered by AVS, the BT110 offers customers a broad range of Alexa-based features. In addition, through the support of Alexa Communication (ACM), the BT110 allows voice-initiated calling using InnoMedia’s internal SIP stack. A configured VoIP service provider’s account can then be used for both inbound and outbound calls throughout the service provider’s network coverage area.

The BT110 has a variety of convenient call control mechanisms: utilizing voice commands, a tablet, an integrated touch panel on the device, a smartphone app, or a standard telephone.  During calls, users can communicate either using the hands-free speakerphone, or using a smartphone or telephone handset for added privacy.

All BuddyTalk devices offer an excellent audio experience through the use

Read More
Read More

Alexa for rent: Why Amazon needs to stop selling us new Echos

Last week, at Amazon’s yearly refresh of technology products, the company revealed Ring security devices (including an indoor video patrol drone), Eero mesh networking equipment, Fire TV streaming sticks, and, most importantly — new Echo smart speakers with Alexa.

However, many of the innovations demonstrated running on the freshly announced Echo devices were not product enhancements that required hardware upgrades. Because many of the new Alexa features and functionality are being rolled out to Amazon’s cloud service, many of the Alexa devices already in your homes will be getting a more natural voice and the conversation mode — assuming you don’t need that new AZ1 neural edge processing chip in order to take advantage of those enhancements. 

Also: Prime Day 2020: Amazon reveals when its annual sale takes place

These enhancements are not unlike when Apple rolls out an improved iOS or WatchOS. The older versions of the iPhone/iPad/Watch get

Read More
Read More

What Is Alexa? The Best Alexa Speaker 2020

The 3rd generation Amazon Echo sitting on a wooden side table.
Photo: Amazon

Alexa (whose name is partly inspired by the legendary Library of Alexandria in Egypt) is the voice platform that powers Amazon’s Echo speakers, including the standard Echo (2019 version), the little Echo Dot, the video-enabled Echo Show and Echo Spot smart displays, and a bunch of compatible speakers (and other things), some from other manufacturers. Alexa speakers include built-in microphones, so they can listen to your commands and then send a recording of them to Amazon’s cloud services, where the recording is analyzed and the appropriate response is triggered. That process usually takes only a couple of seconds. Naturally, some people don’t like the idea of being listened to, and we address that issue in detail in this blog post.

Several Alexa speakers are good as music systems, but the real reason to get one—as opposed to a non-smart speaker or a Bluetooth speaker—is to access the Alexa

Read More
Read More

Hunches, Alexa Guard Plus and more

Amazon’s annual hardware event has come and gone, and with it we’ve seen a slew of new Alexa features for your Echo speakers, displays and other voice-driven devices. Alexa continues to expand its reach, connecting with over 140,000 smart home devices, and boasting more than 100 million Alexa-compatible devices installed across its user base. But the voice assistant’s power isn’t just in its rapidly growing scale and ever expanding reach.



Amazon


© Provided by CNET
Amazon

When I spoke to Daniel Rausch, Amazon’s vice president of smart home and Alexa mobile, before the hardware event, he said Alexa is becoming more independent too. Alexa will soon be able to act on Hunches without asking, to listen for and react to sounds other than a wake word, and to protect your home more actively with an upgrade to Alexa Guard.

Amazon’s hardware chief talks Alexa, privacy and flying home security

Read More
Read More

Amazon’s kid-savvy Alexa a welcome new option for Echo speakers

Amazon is adapting its Alexa technology so that Echo smart speakers will switch to kid-friendly mode when they detect children are speaking to them.`



Echo Dot Kids Edition panda version. Amazon


© Provided by CNET
Echo Dot Kids Edition panda version. Amazon

Given how far these digital devices reach into our lives, that’s welcome news.

Echo devices reach deeply into our existence. We use them to get answers to questions, control lights and play music. Our kids see us using them, and kids mimic their parents. So in coming months, Amazon will give parents the option of setting up voice profiles for their children in order to produce kid-friendly responses, the giant retailer said at its device product launch event Thursday.



Echo Dot Kids Edition panda version


© Amazon

Echo Dot Kids Edition panda version


Once voice profiles are set up, the Alexa device will return kid-friendly answers, games, music, Audible books and premium skills, for example. The feature dovetails with the new

Read More
Read More

Every new Alexa feature announced at Amazon’s Sept. 24 event

Amazon’s annual hardware event has come and gone, and with it we’ve seen a slew of new Alexa features for your Echo speakers, displays and other voice-driven devices. Alexa continues to expand its reach, connecting with over 140,000 smart home devices, and boasting more than 100 million Alexa-compatible devices installed across its user base. But the voice assistant’s power isn’t just in its rapidly growing scale.



a close up of a sign: Ben Fox Rubin/CNET


© Provided by CNET
Ben Fox Rubin/CNET



a close up of a cell phone


© Chris Monroe/CNET


When I spoke to Daniel Rausch, Amazon’s vice president of smart home and Alexa mobile, before the hardware event, he said Alexa is becoming more independent too. Alexa will soon be able to act on Hunches without asking, to listen for and react to sounds other than a wake word, and to protect your home more actively with an upgrade to Alexa Guard.

Loading...

Load Error

All this will lead to what Rausch

Read More
Read More