Wintermute Voice Assistant That Works Across Platforms And Follows You Everywhere?

Nuance stand at GSMA Barcelona 2008

Nuance stand at GSMA Barcelona 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Phys.org’s “Wintermute voice assistant makes intro at CES” article reported Nuance, a tech company from Massachusetts, is working on a software which allows people to use voice to control devices that aren’t necessary using the same operating system.  This means that when this software of theirs, codename Wintermute, gets to the market, the users will be able to use voice to control all devices with ease.  Furthermore, Phys.org reported that this voice assistant software will also work in such a wonderful way that the users will be able to rely on their voices to for an example, abstractedly reveal the intention from one device and yet to be able to have another device does a follow up on the same intention.

Confuse?  Let say, you use this voice assistant software to check out some information about a movie you want to watch in theater on a tablet.  All of the sudden, you switch to PC and ask for the same voice assistant to buy a movie ticket for you without telling it about the movie you want to buy a ticket for and which theater you would like to go to.  If this voice assistant software is going to be really good, it definitely knows what movie you have had intensively searched for from the search engine on a tablet and automatically looking for ticket information of this particular movie in the closest theater near you on a PC.  When it got all the necessary preparations down, it would then ask you to approve the purchase of the movie ticket through voice, and you can simply reply back with a simple yes or no or a not so simple answer which this voice assistant software would then offer you more choices to decide.  Obviously, if you decide that you want to cancel the whole shebang, you can simply tell it like it is such as “Let cancel the whole thing,” and the voice assistant would just record your decision for further analyzing to further its own smartness while it goes ahead and cancel the whole movie ticket buying thing.

In truth, I’m not sure will Nuance’s voice assistant will be capable of the things I mentioned, but it does sound like Nuance’s voice assistant might be able to do some of the things I mentioned, because Phys.org reported that Nuance’s voice assistant prototype was able to pull up a football game on TV when a user had merely browsed for the football game score on the smartphone.  So, I think Nuance’s voice assistant might be able to understand the users abstractedly somewhat.  Nonetheless, abstract thinking isn’t something computers can easily tackle, therefore I’m not too sure about Nuance’s voice assistant performance.  Just take a look at Siri and other voice assistants from other smartphone platforms, all in all these software/apps perform rather poorly.  These voice assistant software/apps often misunderstand the users’ voice commands and intentions.  If Nuance’s voice assistant can be smarter than the rest, I definitely love to see it in action!

Phys.org reported Nuance is going to rely on the power of the cloud networking to service its voice assistant software.  Through the cloud servers, Nuance’s voice assistant software will be able to synch the information from one device to another, because Nuance’s voice assistant software needs to be able to analyze what the users have done from one device to another.  Furthermore, I think that in order for the users to be able to use Nuance’s voice assistant across devices and platforms, the users might have to install Nuance’s voice assistant software on all devices and platforms that they’re going to use.  This might not be a convenient thing to do, because the users might have to update, upgrade, or remove Nuance’s voice assistants from all devices too.

I think Nuance’s voice assistant software is a cool idea, but I wonder how Nuance will deal with privacy.  It’s a very powerful thing for a software to know the intents of the users.  Furthermore, if a hacker can hack into Nuance’s voice assistant software, will this hacker has the control of all devices that Nuance’s voice assistant software serves?  Imagine the things a hacker can do with all devices at once.  Turning them into zombies and so on…  Anyhow, the privacy and security issues are two sticky issues that cloud services often have to contend with.  So, in this sense these two hot issues are not only Nuance’s voice assistant software’s problems, but these problems are all cloud services’ problems.

I’m not sure if Nuance can deliver this sort of all device interaction for its upcoming voice assistant software, but it sure does sound promising from what I’d read on Nuance’s Wintermute project on Phys.org.  Until then, I guess I be wishing for Nuance to release their work really soon.  Until then, let us all use the current single platform voice assistant software such as Siri or whatever we have on our devices.

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Ubuntu Expands To TV, A Video Shows A Gorgeous Ubuntu TV Prototype In Action

Couple computers of mine are using Ubuntu as their main Linux operating system.  (Ubuntu is one of the easiest Linux distributions to be installed and used.)  It has always been an excitement for me to see a new version of Ubuntu to be released, but this time it’s not the release of a new version of Ubuntu which has excited me.  It’s the announcement that Ubuntu is ready for TV.  Yes, I have never had imagined Ubuntu would be released for TV, but now the cat is out of the bag and I’m loving it.  Check out the video right after the break to see Ubuntu TV in action.

Ubuntu boasts that Ubuntu TV is just TV.  No wires.  No boxes.  Ubuntu suggests Ubuntu TV integrates broadcast, time shift, online box office, personal cloud, apps and disk media experiences.  Why no wires or boxes?  I think as long the TV manufacturers install Ubuntu TV onto their TVs, out of the box experience Ubuntu TV will not require any additional wires or boxes besides the wires that come with the TVs.  Searching for TV programs should be enjoyable on Ubuntu TV since Ubuntu suggests it integrates an intelligent search for Ubuntu TV.  Here I quote Ubuntu’s own words on searching for TV programs with Ubuntu TV:

Cable and satellite TV provide hundreds of channels already. Add online content and the choices increase exponentially. Ubuntu TV helps viewers find entertainment quickly, prioritising their most frequently-watched programmes. Search is ever-present and makes quick work of finding great content. No time to watch now? Single episodes or whole seasons can be recorded and enjoyed at your leisure. And because the TV is a shared device, viewers can create personalised playlists, to keep the kids’ priorities separate from yours. (Source:  http://www.ubuntu.com/tv/experience)

Furthermore, if I’m not mistaken, I think Ubuntu suggests that there will be apps for smartphones and tablets to be used in conjunction with Ubuntu TV so TV users will be able to enjoy side contents on particular shows/programs.  This way, TV users don’t really have to interrupt their TV shows/programs just to peek at additional information on the TV shows/programs that they’re watching. Perhaps, there will be Ubuntu TV remote apps for smartphones and tablets so TV users can control Ubuntu TV with such devices.

It’s unclear how Ubuntu can be installed on TVs.  I surmise TV manufacturers might have to install Ubuntu at the get go before their TVs reach the customers.  According to VentureBeat article Ubuntu TV ‘for human beings’ unveiled at CES, Ubuntu TV is free.  TV manufacturers might see that they can cut down the cost of not having to pay for TV operating system license, and you never know cost saving from TV manufacturers might make smart flatscreen TVs even cheaper for customers.  There is a service fee for each unit which Ubuntu will charge the TV manufacturers.

On Ubuntu’s website, there is a contact form which invites TV manufacturers and content providers to contact Ubuntu in regard to Ubuntu TV.  Perhaps, Ubuntu is inviting TV manufacturers and content providers to test out Ubuntu TV and Ubuntu will provide the support in such matter?  I sure hope many TV manufacturers and content providers will support Ubuntu TV.

Of course, Ubuntu TV is best to be installed on smart TVs, but being true to open source Ubuntu is allowing geeks to download and install Ubuntu TV onto their computers.  Ubuntu’s wiki has the instruction on how to download and install Ubuntu TV onto a computer.  The instruction is here.  Since Ubuntu TV is available for download freely, I think people are going to be using Ubuntu TV in innovative fashions.  One example might be that someone is going to install Ubuntu TV onto USB flash drive so he or she can turn a dumb flatscreen TV into a smart flatscreen TV, but this only works if a dumb flatscreen TV has a USB port.

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