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LG's HomeChat will let you text your appliances as if they were people

LG had plenty of eye-catching gadgets at this year's CES, from a massive 105-inch curved 4K display to the bendable G Flex mobile phone, but probably one of the most intriguing new innovations it revealed was the upcoming HomeChat service. LG HomeChat will allow users to issue commands and receive status updates from their smart appliances by texting them and using simple, conversational language. According to the company, you will literally be able to ask your washer "What're you doing?" or your fridge “Do we have beer?” and they will respond just as a person would.Read More

Science

Who needs a time machine? Scientists reconstruct ancient languages with software

Imagine the wealth of knowledge we could uncover if it was possible to travel back in time and re-construct ancient languages. While that’s impossible right now, scientists at UC Berkley and the University of British Columbia reckon they’ve managed the next-best thing, by developing new software which uncovers existing fragments of “proto-languages” from languages still in use. Read More

Telecommunications

TextGenie translates SMS messages for puzzled adults

Text messaging has transformed language into a kind of coded parlance that can be puzzling or outright indecipherable for recipients who do not follow SMS trends, which probably started in school patios across the world. In order to help those with difficulties understanding abbreviations and obscure acronyms used in English, British software developer DCML has greated TextGenie, which translates the increasingly cryptic SMS messages the younger generation tends to use.Read More

Science

New approach promises more accurate speech recognition software

Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) are combining two of the best-known approaches to automatic speech recognition to build a better and language-independent speech-to-text algorithm that can recognize the language being spoken in under a minute, transcribe languages on the brink of extinction, and make the dream of ever present voice-controlled electronics just a little bit closer.Read More

Good Thinking

Scientists develop child-like synthetic voice for children who can't speak

You may think that Stephen Hawking’s synthesized voice sounds a little ... unusual, but imagine how much weirder it would be to witness a child using that same adult voice to communicate. For many children who are unable to speak, however, they have no choice but to use assistive devices that utilize just such a voice. Now, help may be on the way. Norwegian researchers have developed a new method of creating synthetic speech, that actually sounds like it is being spoken by a child. Such technology could also allow computers to better recognize words spoken to them by young users.Read More

Good Thinking

Motion-sensing kitchen teaches French to student cooks

People learning a new language almost always have the same complaint – you may temporarily memorize words that you learn in a classroom, but you soon forget those words unless you actually have to use the language. Some educators have addressed this problem through Task-Based Language Learning, in which students have to complete a task using instructions provided in a foreign language. Researchers at Britain’s Newcastle University have recently put a high-tech spin on this approach – they’ve created an interactive kitchen that keeps track of what its users are doing, as it uses the French language to guide them in preparing French cuisine.Read More

Good Thinking

Software picks out fake online reviews

One of the great things about the internet is the fact that everyday people can share what they know with the entire world, so if they’ve had a particularly good or bad experience with a business or product, they can notify everyone via customer review websites. The flip-side of that, however, is that business owners can plant fake reviews on those same sites, that either praise their own business or slam their competition. Well, confused consumers can now take heart – researchers from Cornell University have developed software that is able to identify phony reviews with close to 90 percent accuracy.Read More

Science

Computers learn language (and world domination) by reading the manual

Researchers at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab have been able to create computers that learn language by doing something that many people consider a last resort when tackling an unfamiliar task - reading the manual (or RTBM). Beginning with virtually no prior knowledge, one machine-learning system was able to infer the meanings of words by reviewing instructions posted on Microsoft's website detailing how to install a piece of software on a Windows PC, while another was able to learn how to play Sid Meier's empire-building Civilization II strategy computer game by reading the gameplay manual. Read More

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