A free, once–weekly email roundup of Voice news and articles. Subscribe here.

đź“° News and Stories

Now Anyone Can Use Alexa Skill Blueprints to Create and Publish an Alexa Skill in Minutes: Skill Blueprints enable anyone to create and share customized Alexa skills simply by filling in the blanks to one of dozens of easy-to-use templates. Now, anyone can publish skills created using Alexa Skill Blueprints to the Alexa Skills Store in the US for customers to discover, use, and review.

IBM's fast-talking AI machine just lost to a human champion in a live debate: On Monday, Harish Natarajan, a grand finalist in 2016's World Debating Championships, faced off against IBM's Project Debater — a computer touted by the company as the first artificial-intelligence system built to meaningfully debate humans. Natarajan won, but the computer demonstrated the increasingly complex arguments that AI is starting to make.

Google Assistant’s new interpreter mode can translate conversations — but it’s not magic:Google Assistant will soon be able to act as your real-life translator in 27 different languages. Google announced today that the voice assistant is getting a new “interpreter mode” that can translate in real time so you can hold conversations with someone who doesn’t share the same tongue. It works, but it’s not magic.

Sonic Branding Continues to Gain Popularity as Mastercard Launches Its Own Sound: Just one month after Mastercard refreshed its logo (and announced a shift away from using the brand name), the company has more brand identity news. Today, it released its own sonic branding—a new sound that will help consumers recognize the brand when they make purchases with their Mastercard or when they see an ad for the brand on TV.

đź““ Tutorials and Opinions

New voices at patients’ bedsides: Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Apple: At first it was a novelty: Hospitals began using voice assistants to allow patients to order lunch, check medication regimens, and get on-demand medical advice at home. But these devices, manufactured by Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft and others, are now making deeper inroads into patient care.

Report: Voice assistants in use to triple to 8 billion by 2023: The use of voice assistants is set to triple over the next few years, according to a new forecast from the U.K.-based analysts at Juniper Research. The firm estimates there will be 8 billion digital voice assistants in use by 2023, up from the 2.5 billion assistants in use at the end of 2018.

📆  Events

Rheinlad Pitch: 25th of February, Cologne: BotTalk along with three other startups will pitch their idea next week in Cologne, Germany. Whish us luck =)