The BBC’s virtual assistant is now available for testing in the UK

A virtual assistant from the BBC which aims to cater for Britain’s many dialects is now available for testing.

Even as a Brit, it can often feel like a translation app is needed between Bristolian, Geordie, Mancunian, Brummie, Scottish, Irish, or any of the other regional dialects in the country. For a geographically small country, we’re a diverse bunch – and US-made voice assistants often struggle with even the slightest accent.

The BBC thinks it can do a better...

Google’s chatty Duplex AI expands to the UK, Canada, and Australia

Google’s conversational Duplex AI has begun expanding outside the US and New Zealand to the UK, Canada, and Australia.

Duplex probably needs little introduction as it caused a bit of a stir when it debuted at I/O in late 2018 (when conferences were things you could still physically attend.)

The human-sounding AI could perform actions like calling a business on a person’s behalf and booking in things such as hair appointments or table...

Apple acquires Voysis to boost Siri’s language skills

Apple has reportedly acquired Irish AI startup Voysis, with the move set to help enhance Siri’s skill at natural language understanding.

Voysis specialises in improving digital assistants inside online shopping applications wherein the software could respond more precisely to voice commands. According to the start-up, its technology could narrow product search results by processing shopping phrases like “I need a new LED TV” and “My budget is $1,000.” This AI was...

Meena is Google’s first truly conversational AI

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Google is attempting to build the first digital assistant that can truly hold a conversation with an AI project called Meena.

Digital assistants like Alexa and Siri are programmed to pick up keywords and provide scripted responses. Google has previously demonstrated its work towards a more natural conversation with its Duplex project but Meena should offer another leap forward.

Meena is a neural network with 2.6 billion parameters. Google claims Meena is able to handle...

Huawei announces its own AI assistant as it prepares for Google-less life

huawei assistant mate 30 pro google services ai artificial intelligence

Huawei has announced its own AI-powered assistant during a launch event in Munich as it prepares for life without Google’s services.

Due to US trade restrictions, Huawei is losing access to Google’s services. The new Mate 30 smartphones announced in Munich today will launch with the open-source Android, but it will not feature the Play Store, Gmail, YouTube, Google Pay, or the many other services which Western consumers are used to.

Among the features that will be...

Google Assistant wins IQ test, but Alexa and Siri are catching up

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Google Assistant continues to lead the virtual assistant pack, but its rivals are close behind according to a new IQ study by Loup Ventures.

Loup Ventures asked each of the three main virtual assistants – Google Assistant, Alexa, and Siri – a total of 800 questions. The assistants understood almost every question, even if not all of the responses were correct/sufficient.

In terms of understanding the questions, these are the results:

Google Assistant – 100...

Amazon patent envisions Alexa listening to everything 24/7

A patent filed by Amazon envisions a future where Alexa listens to users 24/7 without the need for a wakeword.

Current digital assistants listen for a wakeword such as “Ok, Google” or “Alexa,” before recording speech for processing. Especially for companies such as Google and Amazon which thrive on knowing everything about users, this helps to quell privacy concerns.

There are some drawbacks from this approach, mainly context. Future AI assistants will be able to...

Google’s Duplex booking AI often relies on humans for backup

Google Duplex often calls on humans for backup when making reservations on behalf of users, and that should be welcomed.

Duplex caused a stir when it debuted at Google’s I/O developer conference last year. The AI was shown calling a hair salon to make a booking and did so complete with human-like “ums” and “ahs”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qCanuYrR0g

The use of such human mannerisms goes to show Google’s intention was for the human to be unaware...

Huawei discusses AI strategy with us at the Mate 20 launch

During last week’s Mate 20 Pro launch, AI News discussed Huawei’s AI strategy with the company’s president of software engineering. Dr Chenglu Wang (left in picture) has been with Huawei for over four years and has overseen the integration of AI with the company’s products. HiAI is Huawei’s mobile AI open platform which consists of three layers: Application - Focuses on enabling AI for apps to make them more intelligent and powerful. Chip - Aims to achieve optimal...

Google is reportedly building an AI-powered fitness coach for WearOS

Google appears to be preparing an AI-powered fitness coach for WearOS as it continues its mission to revitalise the platform. Fitness remains a key reason why people buy smartwatches. Beyond that, they’re still really just an expensive place to see our smartphone notifications. WearOS’ main competitor, the Apple Watch, has produced some clever features with regards to fitness. Among the most impressive is the ability to tap some gym equipment to bring up the relevant info and tracking...