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Voice recognition gets human

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Recent research has revealed that the need for natural, conversational interaction between humans and their devices is continually increasing as users rely on them more for daily tasks.

The need for natural, conversational interaction between humans and their devices is increasing as people rely on them for more daily tasks. ABI Research predicts that consumers who engage with voice functionality on a monthly basis will grow to more than one billion by 2021, an 80% compound annual growth rate.

“Smartphones are usually the first devices people think of in relation to voice input and recognition,” says Eric Abbruzzese, Senior Analyst at ABI Research. “But growth in smart glasses and smart home devices will fuel this trend going forward.”

Within enterprises, ABI Research predicts that natural language processing will prove particularly beneficial in use cases and verticals that demand hands-free functionality, such as in healthcare, oil and gas, factory floors, and construction. Enterprise voice adoption often requires customized dictionaries, applications, and tools. While the major players in voice recognition allow some APIs to extend into these domains, specialists such as Nuance Communications are developing industry-specific voice packages.

Consumer-wise, voice control and conversational interaction is a natural fit for both smart glasses and AR devices, as their primary purpose is to offer hands-free, efficient data display and interaction. Smart home devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home will drive consumer use cases, with growth in AI-powered personal assistants enabling natural and rewarding interaction.

Apple, Google, and Microsoft are the main players on the map, and for good reason—each company is pushing their voice platforms heavily, most recently with Google’s Home voice-powered smart home device. However, it is Amazon that is on ABI Research’s radar. With involvement in automotive through their voice technology, and rapid movement in sales of its voice-supported Echo and Fire devices, Amazon has the potential to see great growth if it capitalizes on its current momentum.

“Conversational interaction is receiving investment as the next frontier for consumer control, beyond search and social,” concludes Sam Rosen, Managing Director and Vice President at ABI Research. “Development of artificial intelligence and transactional commerce will enable conversations such as ordering a pizza or using a virtual travel agent. We expect this to drive the next wave of digital monetization of the service world.”

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Smash hits the Nintendo Switch

Super Smash Bros. delivers what the fans wanted in the latest “Ultimate” instalment, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the latest addition to the popular Nintendo Smash series, has landed on the Nintendo Switch with a bang, selling 5-million copies in the first week of its release. The game has been long-anticipated since the console’s release, as many fans consider iy to be a Nintendo staple. And the wait was well worth it.

It features 74 playable fighters, 108 stages, almost 1300 Spirit characters to collect while playing, and a single-player Adventure mode that took about three days (or 28 hours) of gameplay to complete. The game offers far more gameplay than its predecessors, making it the Smash game that gives its players the best bang for their buck.

For those new to the game, the goal is to fight opponents and build up their damage score (draining their health) to knock them off the stage eventually. This makes the game seem chaotic, as many players jump around the platforms as if they were on quicksand, in order to avoid being hit by the other players.

It also services two kinds of players: the competitive and the casual.

Competitive players can be matched on the online service by skill ranking to enjoy playing with similarly high-skilled opponents. This is especially important in e-sports training for the game, and for players wanting to master combos against other human players. The casual gamer is also catered for, with eight-player chaos and button-mashing to see who comes out luckiest. This segment is also important for those wanting to learn how to play.

Training mode is also a place to go for those learning to play. It offers “CPU” players that are graded by intensity to train as a single player to learn a character’s moves, combos and general fighting style. More challenging CPU players can also be used by competitive players to train when there isn’t a Wi-Fi connection available.

Direct Play features in this game, allowing two players with two Switch consoles to play against each other over a direct connection – no Wi-Fi needed. This is especially useful to those who want to have a social gaming element on the go, similar to that of the cable connector of the Gameboy.

Click here to read Bryan Turner review of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

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Win Funko Fortnite in Vinyl

Gadget and Gammatek have nine Funko Fortnite figurines to give away.

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A Funko Pop figurine based on a character set is indicative of reaching the heights of pop culture. It is no surprise, then, that the world’s biggest online game, Fortnite, has its own line of Funko Pop figurines. The Funkos are modeled on the characters in game, including Drift, Ragnarok, Dark Vanguard, Volar, Tracera Ops, and Sparkle Specialist.

Now, local Funko distributor Gammatek has released the Fortnite figurines in South Africa. To celebrate, Gadget and Gammatek are giving away a set of three Funko Fortnite figurines to each of three readers (9 figurines in total). To enter, first click on your favourite Funko Pop on the next page and post the Tweet that appears. Then, follow Gadget on Twitter.

You can put the tweet in your own words, but entries must have the competition’s hashtag (#FunkoFortnite) and mention @GadgetZA to be considered valid.

Click here to select the Funko Fortnite character you want to tweet.

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