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Hearing Voices - Issue #81, Ooops! Confirming: Sept 27th is the correct date


Hearing Voices

November 8 · Issue #81 · View online

This week's news about voice computing apps, delivered directly to your inbox.

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“Most importantly, they do not get lost easily.”
— Hearing Voices Summit attendee, on the new Airpods Pro
“Most importantly, share this newsletter with friends” 
— Hearing Voices Newsletter curator, yours truly

Last month, we did our first Hearing Voices in-person event. It was at Betaworks with 200+ people and really drove home for me how many people are excited about the next wave of audio. Thanks to everyone who came! We had people from big companies like Spotify, Bose, and Alexa Fund, the new hot companies like Anchor, and potential newcomers like TTYL. We also had Foursquare, who gave us a sneak peak in what they’re working on at the intersection of physical space and an AirPods-first experience.
Okay, so what’s up this week in audio? Oh I think you know…
PEOPLE, WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE NEW AIRPODS PRO??!! CNN says “they’re big leap forward with noise-canceling and better sound.” My current AirPods frequently fall out of my ears, so the new shape alone may be the winner for me. Also, why is nobody commenting that they made Pro singular and Airpods plural vs. calling them “Airpod Pros.” Just saying…
Some things I heard from people who were attendees at the conference:
  • “Going from V1 to AirPods Pro, I’ve just realized there’s just a crazy amount of ambient noise in my life. Subways, cars, jackhammers construction. Urban life has so much noise pollution. We are never going back to the jack-up-the-volume-while-the-bus-is-going-by way of doing things”
  • “Probably the best hardware Apple has put out in 5 years”
  • “they are so good”
  • “Apple has done it again.”
  • Probably my favorite review from a Hearing Voices attendee was “Most importantly, they do not get lost easily” and another replied “Key Feature!”
Okay, what so what else is up in voice? This:
> Read Where VCs are looking for Voice Startup Investments in Techcrunch (and not just because the first person they asked was me…you already know where I’m looking…)
> Try – an interesting take on short-form audio discovery
> Read about how Spotify users can now share music and podcasts to Snapchat. This is interesting from a podcast discovery perspective.
> For podcasters, try Supercast. It lets you charge for your podcasts. There’s this hack that premium publishers do (e.g., Economist does it), where they’ll give you a personalized link to the audio that you can paste into your podcast player. Supercast seems like it does that as a service. Seems interesting (although I’d want to understand more about the “2x the revenue vs advertising” statement given that initial distribution is more difficult if people have to pay). All that said, their call to action is reason enough to check it out: “Enough with the MeUndies ads. Supercast makes podcast monetization easy by offering a tool to charge your audience for subscriber-only content.”
> For Developers, check out the Alexa Skills Challenge: In-Skill Purchasing - a hackathon put together by Devpost to Invent the future of premium voice content
> Listen to WNYC’s Impeachment Daily Podcast. Interesting to see audio-first media adopt experimentation around form and frequency.
> Check out how Facebook will let users disable storage of Portal voice snippets. Interesting to see that privacy is a feature but also an afterthought.
What’s up in Synthetic Media?
> I started trying to understand natural language generation by reading Machines Beat Humans on a Reading Test. But Do They Understand? which helped set the stage.
> Then I came across “A deep dive into BERT: How BERT launched a rocket into natural language understanding” will help. I thought it was odd that it was from a website called “Searchengineland.” Like, is that website leading the way in neural network knowledge? And then I read from the Search Engine Journal, which is apparently a completely different website, an article called Google BERT Misinformation Challenged, specifically calling out that “The backlash to the BERT update was swift and without mercy. Many SEOs warned about “how to optimize for BERT” articles before any “how to optimize for BERT” articles were published.” The best tweet was probably…
Ryan Jones
the most exciting thing about BERT is that suddenly, overnight, every SEO is now an expert on neural networks and natural language processing.
So in conclusion, it’s either very hard or very easy to overstate the impact of BERT. I’m still in learning mode, so more to come.
Either way, Synthetic Media “channels” have now matured from voice & video being separate, to natural language generation. I wrote about this back in 2018, specifically how it may impact elections, in The Future Will Be Synthesized but it’s interesting to see the impact on SEO/SEM.
That’s all, have a great weekend!
– Matt
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