From DSC:
There are now more than 12,000+ skills on Amazon’s new platform — Alexa.  I continue to wonder…what will this new platform mean/deliver to societies throughout the globe?


 

From this Alexa Skills Kit page:

What Is an Alexa Skill?
Alexa is Amazon’s voice service and the brain behind millions of devices including Amazon Echo. Alexa provides capabilities, or skills, that enable customers to create a more personalized experience. There are now more than 12,000 skills from companies like Starbucks, Uber, and Capital One as well as innovative designers and developers.

What Is the Alexa Skills Kit?
With the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK), designers, developers, and brands can build engaging skills and reach millions of customers. ASK is a collection of self-service APIs, tools, documentation, and code samples that makes it fast and easy for you to add skills to Alexa. With ASK, you can leverage Amazon’s knowledge and pioneering work in the field of voice design.

You can build and host most skills for free using Amazon Web Services (AWS).

 

 

 


 

 

Complete Guide to Virtual Reality Careers — from vudream.com by Mark Metry

Excerpt:

So you want to jump in the illustrious intricate pool of Virtual Reality?

Come on in my friend. The water is warm with confusion and camaraderie. To be honest, few people have any idea what’s going on in the industry.

VR is a brand new industry, hardly anyone has experience.

That’s a good thing for you.

Marxent Labs reports that there are 5 virtual reality jobs.
UX/UI Designers:
UX/UI Designers create roadmaps demonstrating how the app should flow and design the look and feel of the app, in order to ensure user-friendly experiences.
Unity Developers:
Specializing in Unity 3D software, Unity Developers create the foundation of the experience.
3D Modelers:
3D artists render lifelike digital imagery.
Animators:
Animators bring the 3D models to life. Many 3D modelers are cross-trained in animation, which is a highly recommended combination a 3D candidate to possess.
Project Manager:
The Project Manager is responsible for communicating deadlines, budgets, requirements, roadblocks, and more between the client and the internal team.
Videographer:
Each project is captured and edited into clips to make showcase videos for marketing and entertainment.

 

 

Virtual Reality (VR) jobs jump in the job market — from forbes.com by Karsten Strauss

Excerpt:

One of the more vibrant, up-and-coming sectors of the tech industry these days is virtual reality. From the added dimension it brings to gaming and media consumption to the level of immersion the technology can bring to marketing, VR is expected to see a bump in the near future.

And major players have not been blind to that potential. Most famously, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg laid down a $2 billion bet on the technology in the spring of 2014 when his company acquired virtual reality firm, Oculus Rift. That investment put a stamp of confidence on the space and it’s grown ever since.

So it makes sense, then, that tech-facing companies are scanning for developers and coders who can help them build out their VR capabilities. Though still early, some in the job-search industry are noticing a trend in the hiring market.

 

 

 

 

 

EON CREATOR AVR

The EON Creator AVR Enterprise and Education content builder empowers non-technical users to create compelling AR and VR applications in minutes, not weeks.

ENTERPRISE
With no programming required, EON Creator AVR Enterprise empowers workers to accelerate learning and improve performance, safety, and efficiency in the workplace.

EDUCATION
Teachers and students can create, experience, and share AVR learning applications with EON Creator AVR and quickly add them to their current classroom, seamlessly.

 

 

 

 

Also see:

 

 

 

Also see:

 

 

 

Veeery interesting. Alexa now adds visuals / a screen! With the addition of 100 skills a day, where might this new platform lead?

Amazon introduces Echo Show

The description reads:

  • Echo Show brings you everything you love about Alexa, and now she can show you things. Watch video flash briefings and YouTube, see music lyrics, security cameras, photos, weather forecasts, to-do and shopping lists, and more. All hands-free—just ask.
  • Introducing a new way to be together. Make hands-free video calls to friends and family who have an Echo Show or the Alexa App, and make voice calls to anyone who has an Echo or Echo Dot.
  • See lyrics on-screen with Amazon Music. Just ask to play a song, artist or genre, and stream over Wi-Fi. Also, stream music on Pandora, Spotify, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and more.
  • Powerful, room-filling speakers with Dolby processing for crisp vocals and extended bass response
  • Ask Alexa to show you the front door or monitor the baby’s room with compatible cameras from Ring and Arlo. Turn on lights, control thermostats and more with WeMo, Philips Hue, ecobee, and other compatible smart home devices.
  • With eight microphones, beam-forming technology, and noise cancellation, Echo Show hears you from any direction—even while music is playing
  • Always getting smarter and adding new features, plus thousands of skills like Uber, Jeopardy!, Allrecipes, CNN, and more

 

 

 

 

 

 



From DSC:

Now we’re seeing a major competition between the heavy-hitters to own one’s living room, kitchen, and more. Voice controlled artificial intelligence. But now, add the ability to show videos, text, graphics, and more. Play music. Control the lights and the thermostat. Communicate with others via hands-free video calls.

Hmmm….very interesting times indeed.

 

 

Developers and corporates released 4,000 new skills for the voice assistant in just the last quarter. (source)

 

…with the company adding about 100 skills per day. (source)

 

 

 

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

 

 



 

Addendum on 5/10/17:

 



 

 

The 2017 Dean’s List: EdTech’s 50 Must-Read Higher Ed Blogs [Meghan Bogardus Cortez at edtechmagazine.com]

 

The 2017 Dean’s List: EdTech’s 50 Must-Read Higher Ed Blogs — from edtechmagazine.com by Meghan Bogardus Cortez
These administrative all-stars, IT gurus, teachers and community experts understand how the latest technology is changing the nature of education.

Excerpt:

With summer break almost here, we’ve got an idea for how you can use some of your spare time. Take a look at the Dean’s List, our compilation of the must-read blogs that seek to make sense of higher education in today’s digital world.

Follow these education trailblazers for not-to-be-missed analyses of the trends, challenges and opportunities that technology can provide.

If you’d like to check out the Must-Read IT blogs from previous years, view our lists from 2016, 2015, 2014 and 2013.

 

 



From DSC:
I would like to thank Tara Buck, Meghan Bogardus Cortez, D. Frank Smith, Meg Conlan, and Jimmy Daly and the rest of the staff at EdTech Magazine for their support of this Learning Ecosystems blog through the years — I really appreciate it. 

Thanks all for your encouragement through the years!



 

 

 

 

Microsoft Cortana-Powered Speaker Challenges Amazon’s Echo With Skype Calls — from foxbusiness.com by y Jay Greene

Excerpt:

Microsoft Corp. is hoping to challenge Amazon.com Inc.’s Echo smart speaker for a spot on the kitchen counter with a device from Samsung Electronics Co. that can make phone calls. The Invoke, which will debut this fall, comes more two years after the release of the Echo, which has sold more 11 million units through late last year, according to estimates by Morgan Stanley. It also will compete with Alphabet Inc.’s Google Home, which was released last fall. The voice-controlled Invoke, made by Samsung’s Harman Kardon unit, will use Microsoft’s Cortana digital assistant to take commands.

 

 

Microsoft Screams ‘Me Too’ With Cortana-Powered Rival to Amazon Echo and Google Home — from gizmodo.com by Alex Cranz

Excerpt:

With Microsoft’s Build developer conference just two days away, the company has revealed one of the most anticipated announcements from the event: A new Cortana-powered speaker made by German audio giant Harman Kardon.

Now, it’s fair to see this speaker for what it is: An answer to the Google Home and Amazon Echo. Both assistant-powered speakers are already in homes across our great nation, listening to your noises, noting your habits, and in general invading your lives under the guise of smart home helpfulness. The new Microsoft speaker, dubbed “Invoke,” one will presumably do the good stuff, let giving you updates on the weather and letting you turn on some soothing jazz for your dog with just a spoken command. Microsoft is also hoping that partnering with Harmon Kardon means its speaker can avoid one of the bigger problems with these devices—their tendency to sound cheap and tinny.

 

 

 

 

Harman Kardon’s Invoke speaker is a Cortana-powered take on an Amazon Echo — from theverge.com by Chaim Gartenberg

Excerpt:

As teased earlier, the Invoke speaker will offer 360-degree speakers, Skype calling, and smart home control all through voice commands. Design-wise, the Invoke strongly resembles Amazon’s Echo that its meant to compete with: both offer a similar cylindrical aluminum shape, light ring, and a seven-microphone array. That said, Harmon Kardon seems to be taking the “speaker” portion of its functionality more seriously than Amazon does, with the Invoke offering three woofers and three tweeters (compared to the Echo, which offers just a single of each driver). Microsoft is also highlighting the Invoke’s ability to make and receive Skype calls to other Skype devices as well as cellphones and landlines, which is an interesting addition to a home assistant.

 

 

From DSC:
Here we see yet another example of the increasing use of voice as a means of communicating with our computing-related devices. AI-based applications continue to develop.

 

 

 

 

From DSC and Adobe — for faculty members and teachers out there:

Do your students an enormous favor by assigning them a digital communications project. Such a project could include images, infographics, illustrations, animations, videos, websites, blogs (with RSS feeds), podcasts, videocasts, mobile apps and more. Such outlets offer powerful means of communicating and demonstrating knowledge of a particular topic.

As Adobe mentions, when you teach your students how to create these types of media projects, you prepare them to be flexible and effective digital communicators.  I would also add that these new forms and tools can be highly engaging, while at the same time, they can foster students’ creativity. Building new media literacy skills will pay off big time for your students. It will land them jobs. It will help them communicate to a global audience. Students can build upon these skills to powerfully communicate numerous kinds of messages in the future. They can be their own radio station. They can be their own TV station.

For more information, see this page out at Adobe.com.

 

 

From DSC:
This is where we may need more team-based approaches…because one person may not be able to create and grade/assess such assignments.

 

 

From DSC:
This type of technology could be good, or it could be bad…or, like many technologies, it could be both — depends upon how it’s used. The resources below mention some positive applications, but also some troubling applications.


 

Lyrebird claims it can recreate any voice using just one minute of sample audio — from theverge.com by James Vincent
The results aren’t 100 percent convincing, but it’s a sign of things to come

Excerpt:

Artificial intelligence is making human speech as malleable and replicable as pixels. Today, a Canadian AI startup named Lyrebird unveiled its first product: a set of algorithms the company claims can clone anyone’s voice by listening to just a single minute of sample audio.

 

 

 

 

 

Also see:

 

Imitating people’s speech patterns precisely could bring trouble — from economist.com by
You took the words right out of my mouth

Excerpt:

UTTER 160 or so French or English phrases into a phone app developed by CandyVoice, a new Parisian company, and the app’s software will reassemble tiny slices of those sounds to enunciate, in a plausible simulacrum of your own dulcet tones, whatever typed words it is subsequently fed. In effect, the app has cloned your voice. The result still sounds a little synthetic but CandyVoice’s boss, Jean-Luc Crébouw, reckons advances in the firm’s algorithms will render it increasingly natural. Similar software for English and four widely spoken Indian languages, developed under the name of Festvox, by Carnegie Mellon University’s Language Technologies Institute, is also available. And Baidu, a Chinese internet giant, says it has software that needs only 50 sentences to simulate a person’s voice.

Until recently, voice cloning—or voice banking, as it was then known—was a bespoke industry which served those at risk of losing the power of speech to cancer or surgery.

More troubling, any voice—including that of a stranger—can be cloned if decent recordings are available on YouTube or elsewhere. Researchers at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, led by Nitesh Saxena, were able to use Festvox to clone voices based on only five minutes of speech retrieved online. When tested against voice-biometrics software like that used by many banks to block unauthorised access to accounts, more than 80% of the fake voices tricked the computer.

 

 

Per Candyvoice.com:

Expert in digital voice processing, CandyVoice offers software to facilitate and improve vocal communication between people and communicating objects. With applications in:

Health
Customize your devices of augmentative and alternative vocal communication by integrating in them your users’ personal vocal model

Robots & Communicating objects
Improve communication with robots through voice conversion, customized TTS, and noise filtering

Video games
Enhance the gaming experience by integrating vocal conversion of character’s voice in real time, and the TTS customizing

 

 

Also related:

 

 

From DSC:
Given this type of technology, what’s to keep someone from cloning a voice, putting together whatever you wanted that person to say, and then making it appear that Alexa recorded that other person’s voice?

 

 

 

 
 

Microsoft Announces New Laptops and OS Perfect for 21st-Century Students — from edtechmagazine.com by Meghan Bogardus Cortez
Windows 10 S, Surface Laptop and other updates are coming to classrooms in the fall.

Excerpt:

Surface Laptop Introduces Seamless Technology
Perhaps the biggest cheers from the crowd came from the announcement of the new Surface Laptop, which will be available in June 2017.

The laptop checks in at 2.76 pounds with a 13.5-inch PixelSense display and 3:2 aspect ratio. Equipped with a fabric overlay on the backlit keyboard, the laptop is so seamless it doesn’t even have speaker grills. Instead, Panay says users can be immersed in sound while working on things like video. With a Surface Pen and the laptop’s LCD touch module, annotation is easy, even on videos.

 

 

Microsoft Debuts Surface Laptops, Windows 10 S for Education, Teams for Office 365 for Education — from campustechnology.com by David Nagel

Excerpt:

Microsoft has unveiled several new offerings for education, including the forthcoming Surface Laptop and a new version of Windows 10 designed for school environments — Windows 10 S.

 

Also see:

 

 

Also see:

From Mixed Reality to New Minecraft and OS, Microsoft Unleashes a Flurry of EDU Upgrades — from edsurge.com by Jenny AbamuMay

Excerpt:

“How can technology create more opportunity, not for a few but for all,” asked Nadella, noting how his own grandfather was not able to go to school because of the limited resources his family had. “Democratizing education must be something that is for everyone and not just for a select few, this is something that is deeply personal.”

His passionate and personal plea set the tone for the flurry of announcements and updates that followed. By the end of the whirlwind showcase, educators were weary but excited about future possibilities.

 

Also  see:

 

 

 

Microsoft Unveils K-12 Operating System, Tools to Challenge Google — from edweek.org by Sean Cavanagh

Excerpt:

Microsoft unveiled a new, streamlined operating system, a slim laptop and a bevy of classroom tools, a group of products that in design and spirit seem aimed at competing with ascendant Chromebooks and other Google offerings in the school market.

At a product announcement on Tuesday crowded with company employees and tech journalists, Microsoft executives repeatedly touted a theme in describing the new operating system, Windows 10 S, and the accompanying products: simplicity.

The goal is “simplify to magnify,” Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s executive vice president of the Windows and devices group, told the assembled crowd. “Simplicity is power.”

“Technology should help, not hinder, teachers’ work in the classroom,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said. It should make educators’ jobs easier, and “spark students’ creativity.”

 

 

 

 
© 2016 Learning Ecosystems