Skype chats are coming to Alexa devices — from engadget.com by Richard Lawlor
Voice controlled internet calls to or from any device with Amazon’s system in it.

Excerpt:

Aside from all of the Alexa-connected hardware, there’s one more big development coming for Amazon’s technology: integration with Skype. Microsoft and Amazon said that voice and video calls via the service will come to Alexa devices (including Microsoft’s Xbox One) with calls that you can start and control just by voice.

 

 

Amazon Hardware Event 2018
From techcrunch.com

 

Echo HomePod? Amazon wants you to build your own — by Brian Heater
One of the bigger surprises at today’s big Amazon event was something the company didn’t announce. After a couple of years of speculation that the company was working on its own version of the Home…

 

 

The long list of new Alexa devices Amazon announced at its hardware event — by Everyone’s favorite trillion-dollar retailer hosted a private event today where they continued to…

 

Amazon introduces APL, a new design language for building Alexa skills for devices with screensAlong with the launch of the all-new Echo Show, the Alexa-powered device with a screen, Amazon also introduced a new design language for developers who want to build voice skills that include multimedia…

Excerpt:

Called Alexa Presentation Language, or APL, developers will be able to build voice-based apps that also include things like images, graphics, slideshows and video, and easily customize them for different device types – including not only the Echo Show, but other Alexa-enabled devices like Fire TV, Fire Tablet, and the small screen of the Alexa alarm clock, the Echo Spot.

 

From DSC:
This is a great move by Amazon — as NLP and our voices become increasingly important in how we “drive” and utilize our computing devices.

 

 

Amazon launches an Echo Wall Clock, because Alexa is gonna be everywhere — by Sarah Perez

 

 

Amazon’s new Echo lineup targets Google, Apple and Sonos — from engadget.com by Nicole Lee
Alexa, dominate the industry.

The business plan from here is clear: Companies pay a premium to be activated when users pose questions related to their products and services. “How do you cook an egg?” could pull up a Food Network tutorial; “How far is Morocco?” could enable the Expedia app.
Also see how Alexa might be a key piece of smart classrooms in the future:
 

Production Values for Audio Podcasts, Part I — from learningsolutionsmag.com by Jeff D’Anza

Excerpts:

There are a number of production values that narrative podcasters find effective for grabbing listener attention and keeping their audiences engaged in the story; you could think of these as technical elements of professional audio quality. They range from techniques for improving content when applied to script writing to methods applied to audio recording and editing. The most successful professional podcasters use these elements to create immersion in the audio environment and to eliminate audio distraction. The result is the creation of a kind of audio theater. Here are four basic practices to embrace while creating your narrative podcasts.

  1. Set the scene first
  2. Hook the audience
  3. Vary character voices
  4. Talk like real people

 

Production Values for Audio Podcasts, Part II — from learningsolutionsmag.com by Jeff D’Anza

Excerpts:

In this article, I will continue with more production tricks that can substantially increase the quality of your narrative podcasts.

Use music to reset scenes
It’s not revolutionary to suggest that learners tend to have short attention spans, and the case is no different when it comes to narrative podcasts. Every so often you need to reset your learners’ brains in order to keep their attention level high.

One excellent way to accomplish this is through the use of musical breaks. Music breaks can function as a type of auditory palate cleanser, allowing the brain a few moments to stop focusing on information that is being presented and prepare the learner to be ready for the next section of content.

Also:

  • Host/producer structure
  • Get out of the studio
  • Don’t fear insignificant details

 


From DSC:

Seems to me there’s some wisdom here for instructional designers as well as professors, teachers, and trainers who are creating learning/training related content and/or who are flipping their classrooms.

 

 

 

8 great iPad audio recording apps for teachers & students — from educatorstechnology.com

Excerpt:

For those of you asking about audio recording apps to use on iPad, here is a list of some of the best options out there. Whether you want to record a lecture, an audio note, a memo, or simply capture ideas and thoughts as they happen, the apps below provide you with the necessary technology to do so, and in the easiest and most effective way.

 

100 things students can create to demonstrate what they know — from teachthought.com

Excerpt:

[Here] is a diverse list adapted from resources found at fortheteachers.org of potential student products or activities learners can use to demonstrate their mastery of lesson content. The list also offers several digital tools for students to consider using in a technology-enriched learning environment.

 

 

 

Where teachers can find free audiobooks for their students — from thetechedvocate.org by Matthew Lynch

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Audiobooks are fantastic ways to bring stories to life in your classroom and keep students engaged. Reading Rockets explains, “Audiobooks have traditionally been used in schools by teachers of second-language learners, learning-disabled students, and struggling readers or nonreaders. In many cases, audiobooks have proven successful in providing a way for these students to access literature and enjoy books.” However, educators have found that audiobooks benefit all students!

Unfortunately, audiobooks are pricey, so you should not expect your students to have them at home. You should also not plan on spending large amounts of money to build your audiobook collection for your classroom. For instance, the widely popular Audible site for downloadable audiobooks is a subscription-based service, but it only allows you to choose one book per month. Instead, take advantage of the wealth of free audiobooks available for teachers and students.

 

 

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ personal AV tech controls the future of AV and doesn’t even realize it — from ravepubs.com by Gary Kayye

Excerpt:

But it dawned on me today that the future of our very own AV market may not be in the hands of any new product, new technology or even an AV company at all. In fact, there’s likely one AV guy (or girl) out there, today, that controls the future of AV for all of us, but doesn’t even know it, yet.

I’m talking about Jeff Bezos’ personal AV technician. Yes, that Jeff Bezos — the one who started Amazon.

Follow my logic.

The Amazon Alexa is AMAZING. Probably the most amazing thing since Apple’s iPhone. And, maybe even more so. The iPhone was revolutionary as it was a handheld phone, an email client, notes taker, voice recorder, calendar, to-do list, wrist watch and flashlight — all in one. It replaced like 10 things I was using every single day. And I didn’t even mention the camera!

Alexa seamlessly and simply connects to nearly everything you want to connect it to. And, it’s updated weekly — yes, weekly — with behind-the-scenes Friday-afternoon firmware and software upgrades. So, just when you think Alexa doesn’t do something you want it to do, she can — you just have to wait until an upcoming Friday — as someone will add that functionality. And, at any time, you can add Alexa SKILLS to yours and have third-party control of your Lutron lighting system, your shades and blinds, your HVAC, your TV, your DVR, your CableTV box, your SONOS, your home security system, your cameras and even your washer and dryer (yes, I have that functionality — even though I can’t find a use for it yet). It can even call people, play any radio station in the world, play movie previews, play Jeopardy!, play Sirius/XM radio — I mean, it can do nearly anything. It’s squarely aimed at the average consumer or home application — all to simplify your life.

But it could EASILY be upgraded to control everything. I mean everything. Projectors, digital signage networks, AV-over-IP systems, scalers, switchers, audio systems, commercial-grade lighting systems, rooms, buildings, etc. — you get the idea.

 

 

 

From DSC:
By the way, I wouldn’t be so sure that Bezos doesn’t realize this; there’s very little that gets by that guy.

 

 

Also see:

Crestron to Ship AirBoard Whiteboarding Solution — from ravepubs.com by Sara Abrons

Excerpt:

Crestron will soon be shipping the Crestron AirBoard PoE electronic whiteboard technology. Crestron AirBoard enables viewing of electronic whiteboard content on any display device, thereby solving the problem of meeting participants — remote participants, especially — not being able to see the whiteboard unless they’re seated with a direct line of sight.

With Crestron AirBoard, annotations can be saved and then posted, emailed, or texted to either a central web page (education applications) or to invited participants (corporate applications). Meeting participants simply choose “whiteboard” as a source on the in-room Crestron TSW or Crestron Mercury touch screen to start the session. When “end meeting” is selected, the user is prompted to save and send the file.

 

 

 

From DSC:
Check out the 2 items below regarding the use of voice as it pertains to using virtual assistants: 1 involves healthcare and the other involves education (Canvas).


1) Using Alexa to go get information from Canvas:

“Alexa Ask Canvas…”

Example questions as a student:

  • What grades am I getting in my courses?
  • What am I missing?

Example question as a teacher:

  • How many submissions do I need to grade?

See the section on asking Alexa questions…roughly between http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-30ixK63zE &t=38m18s through http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-30ixK63zE &t=46m42s

 

 

 

 


 

2) Why voice assistants are gaining traction in healthcare — from samsungnext.com by Pragati Verma

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

The majority of intelligent voice assistant platforms today are built around smart speakers, such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home. But that might change soon, as several specialized devices focused on the health market are slated to be released this year.

One example is ElliQ, an elder care assistant robot from Samsung NEXT portfolio company Intuition Robotics. Powered by AI cognitive technology, it encourages an active and engaged lifestyle. Aimed at older adults aging in place, it can recognizing their activity level and suggest activities, while also making it easier to connect with loved ones.

Pillo is an example of another such device. It is a robot that combines machine learning, facial recognition, video conferencing, and automation to work as a personal health assistant. It can dispense vitamins and medication, answer health and wellness questions in a conversational manner, securely sync with a smartphone and wearables, and allow users to video conference with health care professionals.

“It is much more than a smart speaker. It is HIPAA compliant and it recognizes the user; acknowledges them and delivers care plans,” said Rogers, whose company created the voice interface for the platform.

Orbita is now working with toSense’s remote monitoring necklace to track vitals and cardiac fluids as a way to help physicians monitor patients remotely. Many more seem to be on their way.

“Be prepared for several more devices like these to hit the market soon,” Rogers predicted.

 

 


From DSC:

I see the piece about Canvas and Alexa as a great example of where a piece of our future learning ecosystems are heading towards — in fact, it’s been a piece of my Learning from the Living [Class] Room vision for a while now. The use of voice recognition/NLP is only picking up steam; look for more of this kind of functionality in the future. 

 

The Living [Class] Room -- by Daniel Christian -- July 2012 -- a second device used in conjunction with a Smart/Connected TV

 


 

 

 

AWS unveils ‘Transcribe’ and ‘Translate’ machine learning services — from business-standard.com

Excerpts:

  • Amazon “Transcribe” provides grammatically correct transcriptions of audio files to allow audio data to be analyzed, indexed and searched.
  • Amazon “Translate” provides natural sounding language translation in both real-time and batch scenarios.

 

 

Google’s ‘secret’ smart city on Toronto’s waterfront sparks row — from bbc.com by Robin Levinson-King BBC News, Toronto

Excerpt:

The project was commissioned by the publically funded organisation Waterfront Toronto, who put out calls last spring for proposals to revitalise the 12-acre industrial neighbourhood of Quayside along Toronto’s waterfront.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau flew down to announce the agreement with Sidewalk Labs, which is owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet, last October, and the project has received international attention for being one of the first smart-cities designed from the ground up.

But five months later, few people have actually seen the full agreement between Sidewalk and Waterfront Toronto.

As council’s representative on Waterfront Toronto’s board, Mr Minnan-Wong is the only elected official to actually see the legal agreement in full. Not even the mayor knows what the city has signed on for.

“We got very little notice. We were essentially told ‘here’s the agreement, the prime minister’s coming to make the announcement,'” he said.

“Very little time to read, very little time to absorb.”

Now, his hands are tied – he is legally not allowed to comment on the contents of the sealed deal, but he has been vocal about his belief it should be made public.

“Do I have concerns about the content of that agreement? Yes,” he said.

“What is it that is being hidden, why does it have to be secret?”

From DSC:
Google needs to be very careful here. Increasingly so these days, our trust in them (and other large tech companies) is at stake.

 

 

Addendum on 4/16/18 with thanks to Uros Kovacevic for this resource:
Human lives saved by robotic replacements — from injuryclaimcoach.com

Excerpt:

For academics and average workers alike, the prospect of automation provokes concern and controversy. As the American workplace continues to mechanize, some experts see harsh implications for employment, including the loss of 73 million jobs by 2030. Others maintain more optimism about the fate of the global economy, contending technological advances could grow worldwide GDP by more than $1.1 trillion in the next 10 to 15 years. Whatever we make of these predictions, there’s no question automation will shape the economic future of the nation – and the world.

But while these fiscal considerations are important, automation may positively affect an even more essential concern: human life. Every day, thousands of Americans risk injury or death simply by going to work in dangerous conditions. If robots replaced them, could hundreds of lives be saved in the years to come?

In this project, we studied how many fatal injuries could be averted if dangerous occupations were automated. To do so, we analyzed which fields are most deadly and the likelihood of their automation according to expert predictions. To see how automation could save Americans’ lives, keep reading.

Also related to this item is :
How AI is improving the landscape of work  — from forbes.com by Laurence Bradford

Excerpts:

There have been a lot of sci-fi stories written about artificial intelligence. But now that it’s actually becoming a reality, how is it really affecting the world? Let’s take a look at the current state of AI and some of the things it’s doing for modern society.

  • Creating New Technology Jobs
  • Using Machine Learning To Eliminate Busywork
  • Preventing Workplace Injuries With Automation
  • Reducing Human Error With Smart Algorithms

From DSC:
This is clearly a pro-AI piece. Not all uses of AI are beneficial, but this article mentions several use cases where AI can make positive contributions to society.

 

 

 

It’s About Augmented Intelligence, not Artificial Intelligence — from informationweek.com
The adoption of AI applications isn’t about replacing workers but helping workers do their jobs better.

 

From DSC:
This article is also a pro-AI piece. But again, not all uses of AI are beneficial. We need to be aware of — and involved in — what is happening with AI.

 

 

 

Investing in an Automated Future — from clomedia.com by Mariel Tishma
Employers recognize that technological advances like AI and automation will require employees with new skills. Why are so few investing in the necessary learning?

 

 

 

 

 

Six ingredients for the successful virtual classroom — from clive-shepherd.blogspot.com by Clive Shepherd

Excerpts:

1. Hook your learners in
2. Use radio techniques to engage with sound
3. Illuminate your ideas with imagery
4. Put your ideas into context using demonstrations, examples, cases and stories
5. Take advantage of the fact you’re live – get interactive

If you’re not going to interact with your audience, there’s absolutely no point in running a live session. If you want to present a large body of content, why not do this in advance in text, as a video or a podcast? Reserve a live session for things you cannot do any other way. Virtual classrooms provide lots of possibilities for interactivity, so use them constantly.

6. Bridge to the next step

 

 

 

 

2018 TECH TRENDS REPORT — from the Future Today Institute
Emerging technology trends that will influence business, government, education, media and society in the coming year.

Description:

The Future Today Institute’s 11th annual Tech Trends Report identifies 235 tantalizing advancements in emerging technologies—artificial intelligence, biotech, autonomous robots, green energy and space travel—that will begin to enter the mainstream and fundamentally disrupt business, geopolitics and everyday life around the world. Our annual report has garnered more than six million cumulative views, and this edition is our largest to date.

Helping organizations see change early and calculate the impact of new trends is why we publish our annual Emerging Tech Trends Report, which focuses on mid- to late-stage emerging technologies that are on a growth trajectory.

In this edition of the FTI Tech Trends Report, we’ve included several new features and sections:

  • a list and map of the world’s smartest cities
  • a calendar of events that will shape technology this year
  • detailed near-future scenarios for several of the technologies
  • a new framework to help organizations decide when to take action on trends
  • an interactive table of contents, which will allow you to more easily navigate the report from the bookmarks bar in your PDF reader

 


 

01 How does this trend impact our industry and all of its parts?
02 How might global events — politics, climate change, economic shifts – impact this trend, and as a result, our organization?
03 What are the second, third, fourth, and fifth-order implications of this trend as it evolves, both in our organization and our industry?
04 What are the consequences if our organization fails to take action on this trend?
05 Does this trend signal emerging disruption to our traditional business practices and cherished beliefs?
06 Does this trend indicate a future disruption to the established roles and responsibilities within our organization? If so, how do we reverse-engineer that disruption and deal with it in the present day?
07 How are the organizations in adjacent spaces addressing this trend? What can we learn from their failures and best practices?
08 How will the wants, needs and expectations of our consumers/ constituents change as a result of this trend?
09 Where does this trend create potential new partners or collaborators for us?
10 How does this trend inspire us to think about the future of our organization?

 


 

 

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