We’ve collected the latest and greatest (and in this edition, the scariest!) happenings in the audio, voice and DSP industry. Read on to see some of the latest advances.

Alexa's Latest Push

via GIPHY

Amazon continues to push Alexa into every for factor it can. At their event this week their voice assistant was presented inside updates of their branded microwave, lights and Echo devices, and new products including a pair of Alexa-enabled glasses and a smart ring (available only to selected ‘beta’ customers.) 🤓

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Audio Analytic Talks Sound Recognition

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It is great to see Audio Analytic become more known in the smart-device audio DSP ecosystem. We believe technologies like Audio Analytic and our own data-over-sound products are important complementary additions to the smart audio ecosystem. Voice assistant devices spearhead the deployment of physical infrastructure, the microphones, loudspeakers and processors to make smart audio ubiquitous in everyday life. This benefits software solutions like Audio Analytic and Chirp by allowing our products to add capabilities to existing hardware via software update alone.

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Apple Promotes Hearing Health

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In a welcome addition to their health-focussed initiatives, Apple have made their hearing health feature generally available in Watch OS 6. From their press release :‌‌

“Apple Hearing Study: Alongside the University of Michigan, Apple is examining factors that impact hearing health. The Apple Hearing Health Study is the first of its kind to collect data over time in order to understand how everyday sound exposure can impact hearing. The study data will also be shared with the World Health Organization (WHO) as a contribution toward its Make Listening Safe initiative.”

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The Voice Interoperability Initiative

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The Voice Interoperability Initiative, spearheaded by Amazon, is an ambitious and welcome effort to ensure that the full range of voice assistants is available on every voice-enabled device.

Interestingly, this initiative brings together players from every level of the smart audio stack including low level silicon/DSP (Mediatek, StreamUnlimited), smart audio solutions providers (Sugr, LinkPlay) and brands (Sonos, Spotify). That said, crucially it does not include the very voice assistants it aims to consolidate and make interoperable within single devices - Apple and Google are both noticeably absent from the list of members.

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A Cautionary Tale...

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Lastly, in a cautionary tale as machine learning and advances in DSP for voice collide and begin to be used in unintended, even criminal, ways. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that over the summer fraudsters used AI to mimic a CEO’s voice in order to successfully complete an unauthorised bank transfer to the tune of almost $250k into accounts they controlled. Scary stuff, and likely just the tip of the iceberg going forward.

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