New IBM Speech Tech Aims to Be Superhuman

IBM has unveiled Embedded ViaVoice 4.4, which offers freeform command recognition, on-the-fly translation and subtitling services, and can claim to comprehend some nuances of spoken English. The technology is designed to enable users to control systems embedded in vehicles, handheld devices, and other non-computer applications to speak flexibly and naturally to devices without having to memorize and carefully pronounced pre-defined spoken commands.

As an example of “freeform command recognition,” IBM offers that a command to change a radio station in a car to 104.3 FM, users can speak diverse commands such as “Change to 104.3,” “Tune to 104.3 FM,” or “Set the radio station to 104.3.” Enabling the system to understand a greater range of intuitive commands will enable voice recognition technology to be used more successfully in a wider range of applications. ViaVoice now uses statistical and semantic analysis of commands to interpret commands outside of a pre-defined, memorized set, and enhanced acoustic modelling provides greater accuracy in noisy conditions and where speech is interrupted by transient noises.

Two other speech recognition projects at IBM, MASTOR and Tales, offer two intriguing new directions for speech research. MASTOR (Multilingual Automatic Speech-to-Speech Translator), an IBM research project, can dynamically translate English speech to Mandarin Chinese. A user speaks into a microphone in English, and MASTOR translates the sentence into Mandarin on the fly. MASTOR uses statistical analysis of the spoken input, first decompiling the sentence into a set of structural and conceptual patterns, then compiling a translated sentence in the target language using those same patterns. Some latency is inevitable in systems like this

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: inflatable backpacks and robotic submarines

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the Web this week. You can't buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Mobile

A library at your fingertips: The 101 best free Kindle books

You shouldn't always have to pay for a good read. Here are our picks for the best free Kindle books, so you don't have to sort through thousands of titles on Amazon and Google Play. We divided them into various genres, so dive in.
Computing

Reluctant to give your email address away? Here's how to make a disposable one

Want to sign up for something without the risk of flooding your inbox with copious amounts of spam and unwanted email? You might want to consider using disposable email addresses with one of these handy services.
Computing

Both the Razer Blade and XPS 15 are capable laptops, but which is better?

We pit the latest Dell XPS 15 against the latest Razer Blade 15 to see which machine meets the needs of most people. Both are a fast, attractive, and well-built, but they still appeal to different users.
Computing

Use one of these password managers to stay safe online

The internet can be a scary place, especially if you don't have a proper passcode manager. This guide will show you the best password managers you can get right now, including both premium and free options. Find the right password software…
Computing

Logitech’s distinctive new ergonomic mouse looks as good as it feels

Logitech's first true ergonomic mouse sports an interesting tilted design that encourages less muscle strain. We spent some time with the MX Vertical to see how comfortable it is and determine whether or not we'd prefer it to a standard…
Mobile

Airport’s low-tech solution to digital chaos involves the humble whiteboard

A U.K. airport has suffered a major computer error, caused by data connection problems, which has stopped flight boards from showing crucial passenger information. The solution is wonderfully low-tech.
Computing

Here’s how to watch Nvidia’s GeForce event at Gamescom

Today is August 20, and that means Nvidia may showcase its GeForce RTX 20 Series of add-in graphics cards for gamers. We’re sticking with that name rather than the previous GTX 11 Series brand due to today’s date.
Computing

HTC breaks down VR barriers by bringing Oculus Rift titles to Viveport

HTC's Viveport store and subscription service will be opened to Oculus Rift users in September this year, letting them buy titles directly and take advantage of the monthly game-delivery service.
Computing

Dell’s new fast-refresh Freesync display could be your next great gaming screen

Dell has debuted a pair of new gaming TN displays, each offering high refresh rates and fast response times to gamers alongside Freesync technology. There are 24- and 27-inch versions of the new screens available now.
Computing

Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 20 Series starts at $500 and features real-time ray tracing

Nvidia revealed its new GeForce RTX 2000 Series of add-in desktop graphics cards for gamers during its pre-show Gamescom press event. The new family is based on Nvidia’s new “Turing” architecture focusing on real-time ray tracing.
Computing

Nvidia GeForce RTX GPUs are coming to Alienware and Predator gaming desktops

Dell and Acer have both announced support for Nvidia's new GeForce RTX 2000 graphics cards in refreshed gaming desktops, including Predator Orion series systems and Alienware desktops.
Emerging Tech

Scarily realistic ‘deep video portraits’ could take fake news to the next level

Researchers have developed a new A.I. system which is able to produce scarily realistic "deep fake" videos -- right down to details like a person's eyebrows or eyes as they speak.
Deals

Save $40 on a laptop backpack that has its own USB charging port

Is there anything more convenient than being able to charge your phone with your backpack? This laptop bag has a USB port that lets you do just that. With a $40 discount, you can get it for just $30 on Amazon right now