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Advantages and drawbacks of Voice Recognition Technology

Fayza Bjayou

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Voice recognition

Voice recognition achieved by VUI (Voice User Interface) is the ability for a programmed machine to respond to voice command. With the efficiency and convenience associated to the technology, it is fast becoming a way to help bridge the gap in professional task management and daily activities. Voice recognition is becoming more sophisticated and reliable, and as such, we can expect the technology to be implemented more, across many different industries. At present, consumer trends are demonstrating rapid adoption of this new capability, with many companies striving to create optimal VUI experiences. Inside Telecom has comprised a few key advantages and drawbacks of this evolving technology.

Advantages of Voice and Speech Recognition technology

Talking is faster than typing!

Voice commands are a far more efficient tool than typing a message. Advancements are being made in technology to make life easier and voice recognition is being built-in to more devices to help boost convenience and efficiency. Voice recognition software has improved and according to a study at the University of Stanford, it has become significantly faster and more accurate at producing text (through speech-based dictation on a mobile device) than we are at typing on its keyboard.

By integrating technology, such as those offered by voice solutions, businesses can streamline documentation processes, and alleviate the burden of typing and other admin tasks, enabling professionals to focus on more challenging and rewarding aspects of the job.

VUI has come a long way

VUI is constantly evolving and has come leaps and bounds from older software once produced for companies’ customer service centers. We all remember encountering a rather frustrating automated service that did not have the advanced capability of understanding or responding to our voice activation (the first time around). Today, companies have implemented more developed voice recognition software that makes interaction with a robot feel more like a conversation with a human. And deep-machine learning means VUI software is able to understand more complex and diverse word responses. This shows that researchers are going that extra mile to improve VUI devices for a way that will fit into society and our broadening scope of needs. 

Voice recognition boosts productivity levels

Voice recognition and speech activation is being developed for a whole myriad of reasons. The most essential role it may have is in the workplace where it can provide support and assistance to task-management duties. Amazon’s Alexa can be used for managing and setting up conference calls as well as scheduling meetings and setting up reminders – this enables a company to streamline the process for everyone – which boosts productivity and efficiency levels.

This technology is making it possible to access big data instantly, allowing professionals to retrieve important information upon a voice command. As the technology develops, it will become commonplace to ask a question or request data for any specific case or project – taking less time than it would for us to manually search for information.

It can also streamline communication between people who speak different languages. The software has the capability of translating what is said in a foreign language into the native language for the recipient of the information to understand – which essentially helps one move beyond potential language barriers in daily business practices.

Drawbacks of voice and speech recognition

Privacy of voice recorded data

More devices are using VUI technology, which may present more challenges related to data privacy. If a device has this capability, the additional data can get tracked by the manufacturer. There have been concerns in the past that manufacturers would be capable of listening in on private conversations. This area of concern and questioning incentivized action from companies to work on offering better privacy controls for users.

Error and misinterpretation of words

Not all words are accurately interpreted with voice recognition. It is far easier for a human to decode words and turn it into meaning, than it is for voice recognition software to do so. The software’s limitation of understanding the contextual relation of words, may cause disruption to any given task assigned to the software along the way. It may encounter problems with slang words, acronyms or technical words/jargon.

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AI-equipped robot shocks fans during the basketball Olympics

Rim Zrein

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Olympics

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games kicked off in July, showcasing its technological advancement after it got postponed due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.  

Luckily, the postponement gave creators and innovators the time to utilize the latest technology to offer those who tune in to watch an experience of a lifetime. 

One of the many inventions that took audiences by surprise is Toyota’s AI-equipped basketball robot, which hones the ability to shoot hoops that might arguably put professional basketball players to shame. 

Under the name CUE, the AI-robot made an appearance during halftime of USA-France men’s basketball Olympics and showed the crowd its ability to shoot with almost a 100 percent accuracy from short distances. 

The 6-foot-10-inch-tall Japanese robot shocked audiences when it scored a free throw, a three-pointer, then nonchalantly walked over to the midcourt line and shot a half-court pointer.  

CUE uses its built-in sensors in its torso to calculate the distance, angle, and strength in order to perfect its aim.  

However, NBA players should not feel replaceable, as CUE can’t dribble or jump and is somewhat slow as seen in the video below where it took quite some time for Toyota’s AI-robot to shoot the three-pointer. 

Technology is arguably the star of Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic Games. The state-of-the-art technology witnessed during the sports games is fascinating. 

The fact that an AI-equipped robot was able to replicate some of our human abilities, might just be a step into accelerating the drive to replace humans with artificially intelligent machinery.  

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What to expect from Facebook’s smart glasses

Rim Zrein

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Facebook

During Facebook’s recent earnings call, Mark Zuckerberg confirmed the company’s next hardware release will debut the tech giant’s collaboration with Ray-Ban eyewear on a pair of augmented reality glasses. 

The long-awaited Ray-Ban “smart glasses” were supposed to launch in 2021. However, as a steep plunge in COVID-19 cases forced most of the world into a lockdown, a lot of tech firm’s plans changed. 

“Looking ahead here, the next product release will be the launch of our first smart glasses from Ray-Ban in partnership with EssilorLuxottica,” Facebook head and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said. “The glasses have their iconic form factor, and they let you do some pretty neat things.”  

The “neat things” Zuckerberg is talking about remains a mystery. However, the smart glasses concept came up while Zuckerberg was describing his outlook on Facebook’s future, which includes a virtual reality unlike no other

“I’m excited to get these into people’s hands and to continue to make progress on the journey towards full augmented reality glasses in the future,” Zuckerberg expressed. 

Considering Zuckerberg’s comments on the release didn’t satisfy tech fan’s curiosity, CNET spoke with Andrew Bosworth, Facebook’s head of AR/VR hardware, who explained that they’re indeed smart glasses, but not AR glasses as Facebook has said so far. 

“We’re being careful not to call them augmented reality glasses. When you’re overlaying digital artifacts onto the world, that’s really augmented reality. These aren’t augmented reality glasses. However, they do a lot of the concepts we think will eventually be critical for augmented reality glasses,” Bosworth said. 

The features of the smart glasses aren’t all unique. However, as much as it’s ironic to state, Bosworth made it clear that one of the things Facebook is looking at for all their AR, starting with the smart glasses, is how can they help users be more present. 

This isn’t the first attempt a major tech company produces smart glasses, as Google did quite a stir back in 2014 following the release of “Google Glass,” which was a bold move, but failed nonetheless.  

The idea seemed exciting, but eventually transformed into an online meme. Besides, many weren’t keen with the idea of having a tech tool constantly emitting radiations at face level. 

The road to actual AR glasses could take more time than anticipated, while other tech giants hunt after similar goals.  

The Ray-Ban glasses coming this year will be a steppingstone into Zuckerberg’s “metaverse” vision for Facebook, but they likely won’t do as much as we’d like to believe. 

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Facebook profits top $10B as its CEO exalts the ‘metaverse’

Associated Press

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Facebook profits top $10B as its CEO exalts the 'metaverse'

Concerns about a revenue growth slowdown pushed Facebook’s shares lower in after-hours trading Wednesday, not long after the company reported that its second-quarter profits doubled thanks to a massive increase in advertising revenue.

But CEO Mark Zuckerberg set his sights far beyond the second half of 2021, exalting what he sees as the next phase of how people experience the internet. What the rest of the world might know as augmented and virtual reality with a dash of science fiction, Zuckerberg and others are calling “the metaverse,” a futuristic and somewhat vague notion that encompasses AR, VR and new, yet-to-be-imagined ways of connecting to one another via technology.

Zuckerberg expects the metaverse to be the next big thing after the mobile internet, although he’s had a spotty track record when it comes to predicting major trends of the near future. At Facebook’s f8 conference four years ago, for instance, Zuckerberg predicted a future where you will sit in your bedroom wearing a headset and take a virtual vacation with faraway friends and family, or use your smartphone’s camera to virtually spruce up your dinky apartment.

So far, this has not materialized. Then there’s Libra — now known as Diem — a cryptocurrency project Facebook launched in 2019 amid great fanfare. At the time, Facebook envisioned Libra as an emerging global digital currency; its ambitions have since been scaled back considerably amid regulatory and commercial backlash.

In a conference call with analysts, Zuckerberg called the metaverse the “next generation of the internet and next chapter for us as a company,” one that he said will create “entirely new experiences and economic opportunities.”

For now, though, Facebook still has to contend with more mundane matters such as antitrust crackdowns in the U.S. and elsewhere as well as concerns about how it handles vaccine-related and political misinformation on its platform. The company said, as it has before, that it expects challenges in its ability to target ads this year — including regulatory pressure and Apple’s privacy changes that make it harder for companies like Facebook to track people who can opt out of that form of surveillance.

Although the social network doubled its profit in the second quarter, in part because of higher average prices it charged for the ads it delivers to its nearly 3 billion users. But the company said it doesn’t expect revenue to continue to grow at such a breakneck pace in the second half of the year.

“This quarter’s results are extremely strong and show little sign of impact from Apple’s iOS update as of yet,” said eMarketer analyst Debra Aho Williamson, noting that in the year-ago quarter Facebook saw its slowest revenue growth since going public, so it was an easy comparison. “But it’s also due to the fact that there is enormous demand for Facebook and Instagram advertising, and more competition leads to higher ad prices.”

Separately, Facebook said on Wednesday that it will make vaccines mandatory for employees in the U.S. who work in offices. Exceptions will be made for medical and other reasons. Google announced a similar policy earlier in the day.

The Menlo Park, California-based company earned $10.39 billion, or $3.61 per share, in the April-June period. That’s up from $5.18 billion, or $1.80 per share, a year earlier. Revenue jumped 56% to $28.58 billion from $18.32 billion. Analysts, on average, were expecting earnings of $3.04 per share and revenue of $24.85 billion, according to a poll by FactSet.

Advertising revenue growth was driven by a 47% year-over-year increase in the average price per ad and a 6% increase in the number of ads shown to people. Facebook said it expects ad prices, not the amount of ads it delivers, to continue to drive growth.

The company predicted uncertainty for 2021 back in January, saying its revenue in the latter half of the year could face significant pressure. Because revenue grew so quickly in the second half of 2020, Facebook said at the time that it could have trouble keeping up that pace.

Williamson said the third quarter will be an important one for the company, “as the full effects of the Apple update take hold.”

“We will have a much better sense of how well Facebook has been able to adjust its core ad targeting products to manage the reduced amount of information it can tap into,” she said.

Facebook had 2.9 billion monthly users as of June, up 7% from a year earlier.

Shares fell $11.77, or 3.2%, to $373.28 in after-hours trading. Earlier in the day, the stock hit an all-time high of $377. 55 in anticipation of the results, so the decline wasn’t unexpected.

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