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Last chance: Relive Your Year in Music

Today is the last chance for Spotify and Apple Music users to check out their “year-in-music”, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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From the first song streamed at midnight on 1 January to the year’s most played song, much of our year has been defined by what we listened to. Spotify offers a neat overview of what shaped the year with its Wrapped service, while NoiseHub has created an app for Apple Music, called “Music Year in Review”, which does pretty much the same thing.

Spotify Wrapped

Back by popular demand, Wrapped allows users to rediscover and share the music and podcasts that formed their personal soundtracks in 2018. The site offers a customised look into what one has listened in several categories, including top song, top artist and top genre. Fun aspects were also added to Wrapped 2018, like “oldest track listened to” and “most listened to artist’s star sign”.

From there, users can share their results to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook with their personal Wrapped share cards. Spotify Premium users get to go a little deeper, with access to additional insights about their year in listening.

NoiseHub’s Music Year in Review

Apple does not provide a packaged way to look at one’s yearly listening stats, but NoiseHub has provided a solution. The app, called “Music Year in Review”, shows a similar overview to that of Spotify’s Wrapped.

While the app isn’t nearly as in-depth as the Wrapped 2018 services, it does provide basic metrics. To use it, one will need to use an iOS device with an Apple Music subscription. The app will request a connection to Apple Music and one’s email address. From there, it will gather a user’s listening data and show three graphics: time spent listening to a top artist, top five songs and artists, and overall number one favourites, with genre, artist and song.

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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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