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IFA 2018 Becomes a Showcase for Amazon and Google Voice Assistants in Berlin

September 13, 2018

IFA is the European version of the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Perhaps half as many exhibitors, yet still numbering over 100,00 attendees and one of the world’s biggest consumer electronics trade shows. And like CES, it has amazing TV screens, too many fitness wearables, Smart EVERYTHING, and the battle of the Voice Assistants wages on. Here’s a little commentary and lots of pictures on the voice assistants.

Read more at voicebot.ai

Voice assistant battles, part three: The challenges

August 13, 2018

It’s not easy to be a retailer today when more and more people are turning to Amazon for shopping. And why not shop online? Ordering is convenient with features such as ratings. Delivery is fast and cheap, and returns are easy and free – if you are Prime member! In April 2018 Bezos reported there are more than 100 million Prime members in the world, and the majority of US households are Prime members. Walmart and Google have partnered in an ecommerce play to compete with Amazon, but Walmart is just dancing with the devil. Google will use the partnership to gather data and invest more in their internal ecommerce and shopping experiences. Walmart isn’t relaxing, and is aggressively pursuing ecommerce and AI initiatives through acquisitions, and its Store #8 that acts as an incubator for AI companies and internal initiatives. Question: why does Facebook have a Building 8 and Walmart have a Store 8 for skunkworks projects?

Read more at Embedded Computing.

Apple is Getting Sirious – $1 Trillion is Not the Endgame

August 6, 2018

Apple introduced Siri in 2011 and my world changed. I was running Sensory back then as I am today and suddenly every company wanted speech recognition. Sensory was there to sell it! Steve Jobs, a notorious nay-sayer on speech recognition, had finally given speech recognition the thumbs up. Every consumer electronics company noticed and decided the time had come. Sensory’s sales shot up for a few years driven by this sudden confidence in speech recognition as a user interface for consumer electronics…

Read more on Voicebot.ai

Voice assistant battles, part two: The strategic importance

August 6, 2018

Here’s the basic motivation that I see in creating Voice Assistants…Build a cross platform user experience that makes it easy for consumers to interact, control and request things through their assistant. This will ease adoption and bring more power to consumers who will use the products more and in doing so create more data for the cloud providers. This “data” will include all sorts of preferences, requests, searches, purchases, and will allow the assistants to learn more and more about the users. The more the assistant knows about any given user, the BETTER the assistant can help the user in providing services such as entertainment and assisting with purchases (e.g. offering special deals on things the consumer might want). Let’s look at each of these in a little more detail:….

Read more at Embedded Computing

Voice Assistant Battles, part one

July 25, 2018

This is part one in a three part series. Catch part two next week.

I have spoken on a lot of “voice” oriented shows over the years, and it has been disappointing that there hasn’t been more discussion about the competition in the industry and what is driving the huge investments we see today. Because companies like Amazon and Google participate in and sponsor these shows, there is a tendency to avoid the more controversial aspects of the industry. I wrote this blog to share some of my thoughts on what is driving the competition, why the voice assistant space is so strategically important to companies, and some of the challenges resulting from the voice assistant battles…

Read more at Embedded Computing

Sensory Brings Low-Power Wake Words to Mobile Apps

April 3, 2018

Santa Clara, Calif., April 3, 2018 – Sensory’s TrulyHandsfree speech recognition has been re-engineered to run ultra-low-power on Android and iOS mobile applications without special hardware

Sensory, a Silicon Valley-based company focused on improving the user experience and security of consumer electronics through state-of-the-art embedded AI technologies, today announced that it has made a significant breakthrough in running its TrulyHandsfree™ wake word and speech recognition AI engine directly on Android and iOS smartphone applications at low-power. As a software component, TrulyHandsfree can be adapted to any app without requiring special purpose hardware or DSPs to capture efficiencies in computing.

Introduced in 2009, TrulyHandsfree paved the way for the hands-free operation we have come to expect with today’s always-listening personal assistant solutions. When released it revolutionized voice user interfaces by offering the first commercially successful always-listening low power wake word. With each succeeding generation, TrulyHandsfree has continually upped the benchmark for always-listening speech recognition performance, by increasing accuracy, lowering power consumption, and running across an increasing number of hardware platforms at ultra-low-power consumption.

TrulyHandsfree has seen large commercial success by running on special purpose hardware for low-power operation. Companies like Avnera, Cirrus Logic, Conexant/Synaptics, CSR/Qualcomm, DSP Group, Knowles, QuickLogic, Realtek, XMOS and many others have penetrated the market for voice assistants using Sensory TrulyHandsfree technology. This specialized hardware approach has worked well for Sensory’s customers like Samsung, Huawei, LG, Motorola and other Android mobile providers who design their own phones and wearables with their choice of hardware.

Until now, always-listening wake word solutions for apps required too much power to be practical, especially for apps that remain open and active in the background. Additionally, having to maintain the same user experience across operating systems, and across all different devices added an extra layer of complexity. However, this isn’t the case anymore. TrulyHandsfree streamlines the implementation and coding process, allowing developers to quickly and easily deploy apps with power-efficient always-listening wake word and command set capabilities across all popular mobile and PC operating systems.

In 2017 Sensory embarked on investigations of using Qualcomm and ARM as more standard cross-platform solutions to figure out how to lower power consumption for wake words used across mobile platforms. Sensory came up with a series of independent actions that when combined could lower power consumption on a mobile app using a wake word by more than 80%, or a reduction of approximately 200mAh in a 12-hour day. That enables a mobile app wake word to consume approximately one-percent of the smartphone battery in 12 hours. To achieve this outstanding reduction in power consumption, Sensory utilized an approach known as “little-big,” which uses a very small model to identify an interesting event and then revalidates the event on a large model (both events are processed on the Application Processor). This method provides the optimal user experience of the big model only when needed, while maintaining the power consumption of the little model most of the time. Frame stacking approaches further cut certain wake word model processing functions’ MIPS in half with negligible accuracy impact. Additionally, multithreading has been deployed to allow more efficient processing of speech recognition and can significantly improve the speed of execution for larger wake word models.

“Hands-free operation for voice control has become the norm, and application developers are now looking to create hands-free wake words for their own apps,” said Todd Mozer, CEO of Sensory. “For example, we recently helped Google’s Waze accept hands-free voice commands by supplying them with Sensory’s ‘OK Waze’ wake word that runs when the app is open. With previous versions of TrulyHandsfree, having our always-on wake word engine listening for the OK Waze wake word during a short trip would have had minimal effect on a smartphone’s battery, but for longer trips a more efficient system was desired – so we created it. Sensory is excited to now offer TrulyHandsfree with excellent low-power performance to all app developers!”

TrulyHandsfree is the most widely deployed embedded speech recognition engine in the world, having enabled a hands-free voice user experience on more than two billion devices from leading brands worldwide. TrulyHandsfree offers support for every voice UI application with several types of wake word options, such as independent fixed wake words, user enrolled fixed wake words, and user defined wake words. Sensory offers off-the-shelf wake word models for all major Assistant services, including Alexa, Hey Siri, OK Google, Hey Cortana, as well as wake word models for third-party devices that support cloud AI systems from Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent. Sensory can also combine multiple wake words into one solution and is the only supplier to have deployed numerous cross-assistant wake word solutions to the market.

Sensory’s TrulyHandsfree currently supports US English, UK English, Australian English, Indian English, Arabic, Dutch, French (EU and Canadian), German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese (EU and Brazil), Russian, Spanish (EU, Latin America and US), Swedish and Turkish. An SDK for TrulyHandsfree is available for Android, iOS, Linux, Mac OS, QNX and Windows. Sensory provides developer support for cloud service interfaces on Android, iOS, Linux, Mac OS, Windows as well as support for dozens of proprietary DSPs, microcontrollers, smart microphones and other low-power embedded devices. SDK updates taking advantage of lower power TrulyHandsfree are now being rolled out for Android and iOS in Q2 2018.

For more information about this announcement, Sensory or its technologies, please contact sales@sensory.com; Press inquiries: press@sensory.com.

About Sensory
Sensory Inc. creates a safer and superior UX through vision and voice technologies. Sensory’s technologies are widely deployed in consumer electronics applications including mobile phones, automotive, wearables, toys, IoT and various home electronics. Sensory’s product line includes TrulyHandsfree voice control, TrulySecure biometric authentication, and TrulyNatural large vocabulary natural language embedded speech recognition. Sensory’s technologies have shipped in over a billion units of leading consumer products. 

TrulyHandsfree is a trademark of Sensory Inc.

Smart speakers coming from all over

October 12, 2017

Amazon, Google, Sonos, and LINE all introduced smart speakers within a few weeks of each other. Here’s my quick take and commentary on those announcements.

Amazon now has the new Echo, the old Echo, the Echo Plus, Spot, Dot, Show, and Look. The company is improving quality, adding incremental features, lowering cost, and seemingly expanding its leadership position. They make great products for consumers, have a very strong eco-system, and make very tough products to compete with for both their competitors and their many platform partners that use Alexa.

Read more at Embedded Computing

Sensory Demos Awesome AI Mashup at Finovate!

September 28, 2017

Finovate is one of those shows where you get up on stage and give a short intro and live demo. They are selective in who they allow to present and many applicants are rejected. Sensory demonstrated some really cutting-, perhaps bleeding-, edge stuff by combining animated talking avatars, with text-to-speech, lip movement synchronization, natural language speech recognition and face and voice biometrics. I don’t know of any company ever combining so many AI technologies into a single product or demo!

Speech recognition has a long history of failing on stage, and one of the ways Sensory has always differentiated itself, is that our demos always work! And all our AI technologies worked here too! Even with bright backlighting, our TrulySecure face recognition was so fast and accurate some missed it. With the microphones and echo’s in the large room, our TrulyNatural speech recognition was perfect! That said, we did have a user-error… before Jeff and I got on stage he put his demo phone in DND mode, which cut our audio output – but quickly recovered from that mishap.


Alexa on batteries: a life-changing door just opened

September 25, 2017

Several hundred articles have been written about Amazon’s new moves into Smart Glasses with the Alexa assistant. And it’s not just TechCrunch, Gizmodo, The Verge, Engadget, and all the consumer tech pubs doing the writing. It’s also places like but CNBC, USA Today, Fox News, Forbes, and many others.

I’ve read a dozen or more and they all say similar things about Amazon (difficulties in phone hardware), Google (failure in Glass), bone conduction mics, mobility for Alexa, strategy to get Alexa Everywhere, etc. But something big got lost in the shuffle.

Read more at Embedded Computing

Apple erred on facial recognition

September 15, 2017

On the same day that Apple rolled out the iPhone X on the coolest stage of the coolest corporate campus in the world, Sensory gave a demo of an interactive talking and listening avatar that uses a biometric ID to know who’s talking to it. In Trump metrics, the event I attended had a few more attendees than Apple.

Interestingly, Sensory’s face ID worked flawlessly, and Apple’s failed. Sensory used a traditional camera using convolutional neural networks with deep learning anti-spoofing models. Apple used a 3D camera.

Read more at Embedded Computing

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