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The one with the thank you intro 🙏 - Issue #29

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our readers from the US. Today we remember how grateful we are for being
The one with the thank you intro 🙏 - Issue #29
By Mari from VoiceFirst Weekly • Issue #29 • View online
Happy Thanksgiving to all of our readers from the US. Today we remember how grateful we are for being here and being able to share and live in this time. I’m profoundly grateful to all of you from the voice community for being a welcome, curious one. From Twitter friends to real life friends, thank you all for reading us. I hope you find more reasons today to be grateful of all the little things that lighten your lives every day. I also hope as this year ends, more good fortune comes to you 🙏.
With all that said, enjoy this issue.

The ultimate resource in voice technology.
The ultimate resource in voice technology.
New voice and machine learning services ahead of Amazon’s re:Invent
Amazon annual re:Invent is taking place in 2 weeks and these are the announcements made so far relevant to voice technologies:
  • Amazon Transcribe can now do live audio transcriptions: Amazon announced this week that Amazon Transcribe, its automatic speech recognition (ASR) service, is gaining support for real-time transcriptions. The live audio transcription feature is generally available this week and enables developers to pass streams to Transcribe and receive text transcripts in real time. This is particularly interesting for live conferences streaming. In media, live broadcasting of news or shows can benefit from live subtitling. Video game companies can use streaming transcription to meet accessibility requirements for in-game chat, helping players who have hearing impairments. In the legal domain, courtrooms can leverage real-time transcriptions to enable stenography, while lawyers can also make legal annotations on top of live transcripts for deposition purposes. In business productivity, companies can leverage real-time transcription to capture meeting notes on the fly.
  • Amazon synthesized speech service Amazon Polly has new voices: Amazon Polly customers now have access to new voices for Castilian Spanish and Italian, as well as a new Mexican Spanish voice. That brings the Amazon Polly portfolio to 57 voices across 28 languages. Amazon Polly allow users to incorporate different voices (speech generation) to their applications without machine learning knowledge. This, combined with the their new speech speaking styles development makes Amazon Polly voice a compelling choice for adding a voice to apps or skills.
  • Amazon Translate now supports 21 languages: Amazon Translate service is featuring new languages including Dutch, Swedish, Polish, Danish, Hebrew, Finnish, Korean, and Indonesian. The neural machine translation service now supports 21 languages and 417 translation combinations.
  • Amazon keeps its eye on the healthcare industry: Translate, Comprehend and Transcribe services are now more accessible to the healthcare industry. All of them are now HIPAA-eligible (the US Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996).
Will Siri work offline? New voice technology patents filed by Apple
Apple filed a set of patents at the end of last week indicating their intention to continue working on digital assistants. This patent is about an offline personal assistant. Apple has been focusing on privacy a lot lately and this might be the highlight of it related to voice technologies. An offline personal assistant might the ultimate privacy-first assistant. As with the recent Amazon patent about emotion detection, we don’t know if these end up in products or not, but it’s always a sign to pay attention to.
A conversational design primer
If you want to start understanding chatbot or voice design terminology this is where you can start. A ride through history and every word and concept you need to start your journey in voice and conversational design.
Amazon launches Alexa hosted skills
This week Amazon announced self-hosted Alexa skills, which will allow developers to provision and hosts AWS services like Lambda, S3 and a DB for persistence. With an Alexa-hosted skill, you can build, edit, and publish a skill without leaving the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) Developer Console. A great advantage.
A lot of this will come down to how useful these devices are for customers — and well-designed skills are a part of that.
Mamma Mia Alexa game
To show off their familiarity with Abba’s music, users open the skill, listen to songs and fill in the missing lyrics to advance. The game features well-known Abba songs from both the “Mamma Mia!” and “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” soundtracks, including “Waterloo”, “Dancing Queen” and more. Seven levels featuring four songs each are available at launch. Fans are also able to purchase the soundtrack from the skill via voice.
Yay or nay? I would totally love this. I see this trend where voice skills (or apps, or capsules) are designed as complements of offline activities and it gives another dimension of meaning and entertainment to the activity. This is a great example, as well as the Disney Read along partnership with Google Assistant. Expect more of this to come.
In the news
Quote of the week
Transparency and control of what the assistant know about you is the approach for privacy in voice.
Paraphrased from Adam Cheyer
Did you enjoy this issue?
Mari from VoiceFirst Weekly

The ultimate resource in #VoiceFirst. Weekly digest of the most relevant news in the #VoiceFirst ecosystem. Everything from voice assistants to bots including conversational AI and published audio.

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