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CES: Jabra puts AI in sound

Updates and expansions of the Jabra headset range enhance voice control and artificial intelligence in the category.

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Headphones are coming closer to the vision of replacing smartphones, thanks to the arrival of voice control, artificial intelligence (AI) and enhanced battery life.

That, at least, is the promise held out by active headset leaders Jabra at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, with the expansion of its Elite headset range and release of the Jabra Move Style Edition.

The new Elite 85h headphones are fitted with Jabra SmartSound, AI technology that provide intelligent adaptive audio, and hands-free Voice Assistant Control, allowing for faster and easier voice assistant access on-the-go.

The SmartSound feature has been developed in partnership with the intelligent audio analysis company audEERING’s soundscape technology. This feature ensures the audio of the headphones automatically adjusts to its surroundings. 

The microphone solution, combined with the Jabra Sound+ app, creates a hands-free Voice Assistant access experience with Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant. This means invoking the wake word rather than having to push a button to activate controls, 

The Elite 85h headphones are also claimed to set new standards in activity time, with maximum battery life of 32-hours, along with advanced six-microphone call technology and custom-engineered 40mm speakers for top-quality acoustic experience and industry-leading durability. It features Active Noise Control (ANC), better known as noise cancellation.

Jabra is also announcing full Voice Activation (VA) integration with Chinese tech giants Baidu, Tmall, Tencent and iFlytek.

Click here to see the specs of the latest Jabra accessories.

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CES: Most useless gadgets

The worst gadgets of CES also deserve their moment of infamy, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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It’s fairly easy to choose the best new gadgets launched at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week. Most lists – and there are many – highlight the LG roll-up TV, the Samsung modular TV, the Royole foldable phone, the impossible burger, and the walking car.

But what about the voice assisted bed, the smart baby dining table, the self-driving suitcase and the robot that does nothing? In their current renditions, they sum up what is not only bad about technology, but how technology for its own sake quickly leads us down the rabbit hole of waste and futility.

The following pick of the worst of CES may well be a thinly veneered attempt at mockery, but it is also intended as a caution against getting caught up in hype and justification of pointless technology.

1. DUX voice-assisted bed

The single most useless product launched at CES this year must surely be a bed with Alexa voice control built in. No, not to control the bed itself, but to manage the smart home features with which Alexa and other smart speakers are associated. Or that any smartphone with Siri or Google Assistant could handle. Swedish luxury bedmaker DUX thinks it’s a good idea to manage smart lights, TV, security and air conditioning through the bed itself. Just don’t say Alexa’s “wake word” in your sleep.

2. Smart Baby Dining Table 

Ironically, the runner-up comes from a brand that also makes smart beds: China’s 37 Degree Smart Home. Self-described as “the world’s first smart furniture brand that is transforming technology into furniture”, it outdid itself with a Smart Baby Dining Table. This isa baby feeding table with a removable dining chair that contains a weight detector and adjustable camera, to make children’s weight and temperature visible to parents via the brand’s app. Score one for hands-off parenting.

Click here to read about smart diapers, self-driving suitcases, laundry folders, and bad robot companions.

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CES: Language tech means no more “lost in translation”

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Talking to strangers in foreign countries just got a lot easier with recent advancements in translation technology. Last week, major companies and small startups alike showed the CES technology expo in Las Vegas how well their translation worked at live translation.

Most existing translation apps, like Bixby and Siri Translate, are still in their infancy with live speech translation, which brings about the need for dedicated solutions like these technologies:

Babel’s AIcorrect pocket translator

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The AIcorrect Translator, developed by Beijing-based Babel Technology, attracted attention as the linguistic king of the show. As an advanced application of AI technology in consumer technology, the pocket translator deals with problems in cross-linguistic communication. 

It supports real-time mutual translation in multiple situations between Chinese/English and 30 other languages, including Japanese, Korean, Thai, French, Russian and Spanish. A significant differentiator is that major languages like English being further divided into accents. The translation quality reaches as high as 96%.

It has a touch screen, where transcription and audio translation are shown at the same time. Lei Guan, CEO of Babel Technology, said: “As a Chinese pathfinder in the field of AI, we designed the device in hoping that hundreds of millions of people can have access to it and carry out cross-linguistic communication all barrier-free.” 

Click here to read about the Pilot, Travis, Pocketalk, Google and Zoi translators.

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