Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Voice

Amazon's Echo is a speaker with a built-in Siri-like voice assistant

Most modern smartphones have built-in voice assistants, be it Siri, Google Now or Cortana. Amazon's new virtual secretary, though, lives inside its own Sonos-like speaker.  Read More

The PRIORI app looks for telltale changes in the speaker's speech patterns (Photo: Shutter...

People afflicted with bipolar disorder must live with the fact that at any moment, they could launch into a major depressive or manic mental state. These mood swings can be so severe that dangerous, erratic behavior including suicide attempts can result. Researchers at the University of Michigan, however, are developing something that could prove to be very helpful. It's an Android app that listens to a patient's phone conversations, and detects the signs of oncoming mood swings in their voice.  Read More

This 3D-printed sculpture is a three-dimensional materialization of President Obama’s voic...

It seems there's little that you can't create with 3D printing; we've recently seen lingerie, guns, rocket engines, musical instruments and even rooms. French artist Gilles Azzaro, however, uses the technology to capture something much more abstract. His 3D-printed sculptures of voice recordings resemble alien landscapes, with high and low tones represented as peaks and troughs. Instead of only hearing the rich tones of Barack Obama's State of the Union speech, you can see them too, in Azzaro's latest sculpture entitled "Next Industrial Revolution."  Read More

Scientists have developed a method of accentuating only the parts of speech that people re...

Places like airports and train stations aren’t known for their tranquility, and that’s largely because of the constant barrage of loud announcements made over their PA systems. Scientists at the University of Edinburgh, however, have helped develop a system that may allow those announcements to still be heard, but at a lower volume.  Read More

Subtle variations in baby cries could indicate neurological or developmental disorders (Ph...

Although Homer Simpson’s brother’s Baby Translator may still only be a whimsical concept, Rhode Island scientists have developed something that could prove to be even more valuable. Researchers at Brown University teamed up with faculty at Women & Infants Hospital, to create a computer tool that may find use detecting neurological or developmental problems in infants, by analyzing their cries.  Read More

The parrot-inspired Polly voice game is designed to teach poor and illiterate Pakistanis h...

For people without internet access, telephone-based services can still be an invaluable tool for things like finding jobs. Unfortunately, many poor and illiterate citizens of Pakistan simply don’t know how to use such services. In an effort to introduce them to the concepts involved, researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and Pakistan's Lahore University have launched a “silly phone game” known as Polly.  Read More

A boxer utilizing the new concussion-detecting test

Concussions should be tended to a soon as possible after they occur, but it’s often difficult to tell whether or not one has actually been sustained, without taking the person to a hospital. That’s why scientists at Indiana’s University of Notre Dame have developed a tablet-based test that detects concussions on the spot, by analyzing the voice.  Read More

Meet Zoe - a virtual talking head capable of expressing human emotions

The University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom has unveiled a virtual “talking head” that is capable of expressing a range of human emotions. The team believes that the lifelike face, called Zoe, is the most expressive controllable avatar ever created, and could one day be used as a digital personal assistant.  Read More

The Lenovo Ideaphone A586 debuts new Speaker Verification technology developed by Baidu an...

Like Android 4.0’s Face Unlock feature that unlocks a device when it recognizes the user’s face, Lenovo has made unlocking a hands-free affair, but by using a slightly different approach. The Speaker Verification technology, that makes its debut in the Lenovo Ideaphone A586 smartphone, lets a user unlock their device by speaking a passphrase.  Read More

The Talking Pedal guitar effects unit emulates the vowel sounds of a human voice in a simi...

Although I grew up surrounded by the big hair rock of Bon Jovi and the like, my first introduction to the Talk Box guitar effect was not Living on a Prayer but Joe Walsh's Rocky Mountain Way over a decade earlier, followed a little later by Peter Frampton's epic Do You Feel Like We Do. Although it continues to be used by a good many guitar gods to this day, the long tube that invariably runs up a microphone stand to the player's mouth does make it something of a special addition to a guitarist's effects arsenal rather than a regular feature. The Talking Pedal from Electro-Harmonix does away with the tube altogether in a rocking chassis expression pedal with no moving parts.  Read More

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