Tag: speaker

13
Oct
2020
Posted in technology

Apple unveils $99 HomePod Mini smart speaker launching next month

homepod-mini.jpg

Apple

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During Apple’s “Hi, Speed.” iPhone 12 event on Tuesday, the company announced a follow up smart speaker, the HomePod Mini. The smaller speaker is more affordable, with a $99 price tag, and smaller than the original HomePod. It goes on sale Nov. 6 and will start shipping Nov. 16. 

Apple still leverages Siri, along with several new software updates and improvements, including the ability to play music from third-party services like Spotify, instead of being limited to Apple Music as has been the case since its launch in 2018. 

The smaller speaker has the same mesh covering on the outside as the original HomePod, albeit smaller, but it’s more of a spherical shape than the column-like shape of the bigger HomePod. The top screen on the Mini is used to indicate when Siri is listening to your voice commands and accepts touch controls for controlling volume and music playback.

homepod-mini-2.jpg

Apple

The HomePod Mini has smart home controls, built-in assistant, and amazing sound while keeping security and privacy in mind.

The HomePod Mini provides 360-degree sound and is powered by the Apple S5 processor. It uses computational audio to adjust the audio that comes out of the speaker as it’s coming out, tuning it for ideal sound quality in real-time. 

The HomePod Mini has an Ultra Wide Band chip inside it, the same kind of chip that made its debut in the iPhone 11 but hasn’t been fully used yet. The UWB chip in the HomePod Mini will be

09
Oct
2020
Posted in technology

Devialet, the speaker company backed by Jay-Z, takes on Apple with $299 wireless earbuds



a close up of a device: Devialet's Gemini wireless earbuds. Devialet


© Devialet
Devialet’s Gemini wireless earbuds. Devialet

  • Audio company Devialet is branching out from high-end speakers and launching earbuds to rival Apple’s AirPods Pro.
  • Devialet’s Gemini wireless earbuds cost $299 in the US and will be available to pre-order from October 10.
  • CEO Franck Lebouchard talked up Gemini’s active noise cancellation and said the earbuds had been in the works for two years.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

High-end speaker company Devialet is taking on Apple with its first pair of wireless earbuds, the £279/$299 Devialet Gemini.

Devialet is best-known for making pricey speakers targeted at audiophiles, winning plaudits for its classic, $2,000 Phantom speakers. The company’s backers include Chinese manufacturing giant Foxconn, which produces the iPhone, as well as Jay-Z’s Roc Nation.

This is the first time the company is venturing into headphones, with an eye to a broader audience.

The Devialet Gemini earbuds are about $50 pricier than Apple’s AirPods Pro, which come in at £249/$249.

Devialet says Gemini’s features will include:

  • Devialet’s high-quality audio engineering
  • 8 hours of battery life in each charge, or six with active noise cancellation enabled
  • Dust and water resistance
  • Bluetooth support
  • A charge case, with replaceable battery, and wireless Qi charging or via USB-C
  • Active noise cancellation comes with “transparency” mode that allows you to hear more background noise



Devialet


© Devialet
Devialet

The earbuds will be available to pre-order online from October 10. They’ll be available to buy directly in the US from partners like Best Buy and Amazon from November 25. According to Devialet’s site, the company isn’t committing to a shipping time, only guaranteeing it will ship by or before December 15 or else issue a refund. In the UK, Devialet Gemini will also be available through retailers such as Harrods and Selfridges.

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03
Oct
2020
Posted in technology

Amazon Echo: Alexa’s new smart speaker home just got a bold redesign

echo-spherical-amazon-event.jpg

Amazon rounds out the Echo.


Amazon

Amazon line of smart speakers is switching up its look; the new Amazon Echo will be spherical. The price will be $100 (£90), which is what the company’s previous, third-generation Amazon Echo went for. The new Echo speaker will be available Oct. 22, and its fabric-covered body will come in three different colors: charcoal, glacier white and twilight blue. It’s open for preorder now.

For specifics about its design as regards sound quality, Amazon says, “Its 3.0-inch woofer, dual-firing tweeters, and Dolby processing delivers stereo sound with clear highs, dynamic-mids, and deep bass that automatically adapts to any room.”

While the woofer appears to be the same as the previous Echo’s, Amazon has packed a second .8-inch tweeter into the speaker, which should fill out its mid- and high-range sound. In addition, Amazon says the speaker will adapt to the acoustics of any room it’s put in, which I’m excited to test out.

The tech giant’s lineup of smart speakers includes its budget-friendly Echo Dot, which is also getting the spherical treatment, as well as the high-end Echo Studio announced at last year’s hardware event and released for the holidays. Though a wall-plug speaker called the Echo Flex and a Dot with Clock (which is also getting spherical) were announced at last year’s event and released soon after, Amazon seemed more concerned with new generations of speakers than all new products this year.

Amazon Ring Echo Fire TV 2020

Amazon/Screenshot by Juan Garzon/CNET

With its built-in Zigbee receiver for connecting with smart home devices, the new spherical Echo speaker will replace both 2019’s Amazon Echo and 2018’s Amazon Echo Plus.

See also: Every new Alexa feature

02
Oct
2020
Posted in technology

Google research lets sign language switch ‘active speaker’ in video calls

An aspect of video calls that many of us take for granted is the way they can switch between feeds to highlight whoever’s speaking. Great — if speaking is how you communicate. Silent speech like sign language doesn’t trigger those algorithms, unfortunately, but this research from Google might change that.

It’s a real-time sign language detection engine that can tell when someone is signing (as opposed to just moving around) and when they’re done. Of course it’s trivial for humans to tell this sort of thing, but it’s harder for a video call system that’s used to just pushing pixels.

A new paper from Google researchers, presented (virtually, of course) at ECCV, shows how it can be done efficiency and with very little latency. It would defeat the point if the sign language detection worked but it resulted in delayed or degraded video, so their goal was to make sure the model was both lightweight and reliable.

The system first runs the video through a model called PoseNet, which estimates the positions of the body and limbs in each frame. This simplified visual information (essentially a stick figure) is sent to a model trained on pose data from video of people using German Sign Language, and it compares the live image to what it thinks signing looks like.

Image showing automatic detection of a person signing.
Image showing automatic detection of a person signing.

Image Credits: Google

This simple process already produces 80 percent accuracy in predicting whether a person is signing or not, and with some additional optimizing gets up to 91.5 percent accuracy. Considering how the “active speaker” detection on most calls is only so-so at telling whether a person is talking or coughing, those numbers are pretty respectable.

In order to work without adding some new “a person is signing” signal to existing calls, the