Google buys company that uses vibrations to make sounds come from a smartphone display

Last year, on the sly, Google purchased U.K. startup Redux. This is a company that has technology that allows the display on your mobile phone to act like a speaker. With this technology in place, manufacturers can produce phones without a speaker, and use the extra internal space for larger batteries and extra components. By vibrating the screen using tiny actuators, sound is created from the display.

In addition to producing the same type of sound you would expect to hear from your phone’s speakers, the Redux technology also produces haptic feedback when the user taps on the display. The …

Google has developed AI voice that sounds indistinguishable from the voice of a real human

Google has pioneered a brand new text-to-speech system that it calls Tacotron 2 and it works with stunning accuracy, delivering voice narrations that are indistinguishable from the voice of a real human. This is not an exaggeration: Tacotron 2 is the second generation of the technology and it consists of two deep neural networks, one that converts the text into a special spectogram (like the one you see in the picture above), and the second one, the WaveNet, that reads this chart and interprets it into a real voice.
The system is currently …

Some iPhone X owners report crackling sounds coming out of earpiece speaker

The iPhone X packs a good amount of tech that we haven’t seen on an Apple smartphone before. Cupertino’s $1,000 flagship is the first iPhone to feature an OLED display, a nearly bezel-less design, the new Face ID authentication system, and a unique gesture-based version of iOS 11.
Given the amount of new stuff present, the news of some iPhone X owners experiencing issues at launch isn’t exactly surprising. One of these issues came in the form of a green line running down the outer edge of the handset’s OLED panel. While the problem is …

The Google Assistant now sounds significantly better, thanks to the magic of machine learning

In the past few years since it launched, Google has been very insistent on proving that the Google Assistant isn’t just a cute gimmick, but a fully fledged product. Just last week, along with the Pixel 2 siblings (and a whole bunch of other stuff), the company announced two new dedicated smart speakers, which are joining the already huge family of Assistant-enabled devices which includes last year’s Google Home, as well as pretty much any Android device running Marshmallow and above.

But expansion without improvement would be next to worthless — …

'See' sounds around you with these eyeglasses for the hearing impaired


For the hearing impaired, getting around without audio cues can be a challenge. Sudden noises can alert you to things happening in that direction, and allow you to react faster to them.

A new design idea translates these audio cues to visual ones, via a set of eyeglasses.

The Peri prototype, worn by one of the team members.

The Peri prototype, worn by one of the team members.

Image: peri/supplied

Inspired by shoot-em-up video games, which typically show a red glow in the direction from which an enemy is shooting at you, these glasses will light up at the edges when they detect sound in that direction. Read more…

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Sights, sounds, and fire from Google I/O 2017

Like previous events, Google I/O 2017 did not disappoint. Developers were greeted with a number of new features to the tools they use which, in turn, enhance the features we use every day. The biggest difference in the underlying theme this year was the absence of moonshot projects that we had grown accustomed to seeing yearly. That was counterbalanced significantly by the inroads Google continues to make in machine learning, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and augmented reality.

That was the big push this year, enticing developers to get up to speed with the latest tools to feed, …

This Uber executive sure sounds defensive about not taking the fall for Uber's harassment crisis


Uber has spent the past two weeks embroiled in its biggest PR (and HR) crisis ever. 

But according to a report in Business Insider, the company’s head of operations, Ryan Graves, has been missing from the office. Graves used to oversee HR in his role in operations, and was Uber’s first CEO before Travis Kalanick. 

As per a Business Insider source, Graves has “vanished from the office, hasn’t been seen or heard from in days.” Uber employees speculated to BI that Graves’ absence meant he could be the one taking the fall for Uber’s harassment scandal.

Uber’s current mess of problems started when Susan Fowler Rigetti, a former engineer at the company, published a blog post outlining the discrimination, harassment, and sexism she and other women faced at Uber. Her blog post was followed by similar stories from other women who worked at Uber, then, allegations that Uber was trying to discredit her, a video of Kalanick yelling at an Uber driver, and to top it all off, news that Uber ran a secret program to evade government officials who were using the app.  Read more…

More about Uber Sexism, Uber, and Business

Results: how much do you customize your ringtones and notification sounds?

There are two kinds of people out there — those who change their default ringtones and those who don’t. The latter group is doomed to forever check their phone whenever they hear another one ring nearby — they can never know if it was theirs that made the sound or someone else’s. The former, on the other hand, is also split up — some are casual customizers, others change their notification sounds so much that they sometimes forget to react when their phone rings.

So, we thought we’d ask you — what do you do when you get a new smartphone? Do you customize your tones and if so — do you pick …

LG’s Hub Robot sounds like a mobile Amazon Echo

lg-smartthinq-hub-1-1024x926 LG and Samsung have really taken advantage of the calm before the CES storm by teasing out their product announcements, one by one. LG’s certainly ahead in terms of sheer strangeness here, having already announced a floating speaker and a wearable speaker collar.
The Seoul-based electronics giant will also apparently be showing off a bunch of robots at the show. It’s not the… Read More

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iPhone 8 sounds and design similarities with the iPhone 4

The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus just launched, but that’s not stopping the rumor mill from moving on to rumors for next year’s “iPhone 8,” which is expected to come with a complete redesign to celebrate the device’s 10th anniversary.


KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, a highly reliable source for Apple rumors, has released a new report (via 9to5Mac) claiming the iPhone 8 could come with a glass and metal design reminiscent of the iPhone 4 and 4S.

The back of the iPhone 8 will reportedly be made of glass to match the front. Furthermore, Kuo says high-end models could come with stainless steel frames as opposed to aluminum. Again, another throwback to the iPhone 4 and 4S, which had stainless steel frames sandwiched between its glass front and back.

Lower-end models could come with aluminum frames. Apple originally used aluminum on the first iPhone, switched to plastic for the iPhone 3G and 3GS, stainless steel for the iPhone 4 and 4S and then returned to aluminum with unibody designs for the iPhone 5 and everything after.

The iPhone 5C released in 2013 was the only iPhone post-iPhone 5 with plastic case.

The switch back to a glass back could mean any number of things such as greater durability. Though the new jet black iPhone 7 and 7 Plus have a high-gloss finish and look like glass, they’re actually aluminum underneath and the finish is more prone to scratching.

Strengthened glass would be more scratch-resistant. In fact, it could look very similar to the Samsung Galaxy S7, S7 Edge and Note7.

A glass back could also point to wireless charging — true wireless charging that works over the air and doesn’t require placement on a charging pad.

It’s way too early to piece get a clear picture of what’s in store for the iPhone 8, but early rumors seem to suggest Apple may get rid of the iconic home button and embed the Touch ID fingerprint sensor underneath the screen.

As crazy as that sounds, it would fit in with Apple’s great purge of buttons; the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus’s home button isn’t a clickable button, but uses the Taptic Engine to simulate the feeling of a press. Moreover, iOS 10’s switch from “swipe to unlock” to “press home to unlock” could be an early hint that pressing into the screen is something we’ll see in future iPhones.

But back on topic, an iPhone 8 with iPhone 4/4S looks would be sleek, wouldn’t it? Oh, and don’t count on the headphone jack returning. It’s clear there’s no going back for Apple. Wireless Courage is the future.