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📰 News and Stories

Introducing Portal From Facebook: New Video Calling Devices to Connect You With Friends and Family: on October 8th Facebook announced it long awaited virtual assistant - called Portal. There are two variants: a smaller 10-inch 1280 x 800 display version and a bigger 15-inch 1920 x 1080 pivoting display version called Portal+. The pricing: the smaller one will cost $199 USD, the bigger $349 USD. The most interesting thing about Portal is that it actually doesn't have its own assistant inside - it uses Amazon Alexa SDK instead.

Get help at a glance with Google Home Hub: just the day after - on October 9th Google announced its new device - Google Home Hub. Google praises the design of the new device: 7-inch screen, rounded corners, four colors to choose from - Chalk, Charcoal, Aqua and Sand. If Facebook's Portal is all about video calling, Google Home Hub is not: "We consciously decided to not include a camera on Google Home Hub, so you feel comfortable placing it in the private spaces of your home, like the bedroom". Giving the users six month of YouTube Premium and focusing on Google Photos - this device surely will appeal to the Android users. But one can see the clear punch at Amazon in the "connected home" use-case: "Dim your Phillps Hue lights, adjust the temperature on your Nest thermostat, turn up the volume on the TV".

Amazon Files for Patent to Detect User Illness and Emotional State by Analyzing Voice Data: The first example in the patent application depicts a user coughing while asking Alexa about being hungry. Alexa responds by suggesting a chicken soup recipe and when refused then offers to order cough drops with one-hour delivery. The voice recognition system is using sounds such as a cough or sniffle to determine if a user is unwell. However, the patent is not limited by these sounds and could be extended to different types of normal speech.

📓 Tutorials and Opinions

Facebook Portal vs. Google Home Hub vs. Amazon Echo Show: It's a three-way, smart display showdown among the biggest names in tech -- so how do these new options stack up?

5 Techniques to Replace AMAZON.LITERAL and Improve Skill Accuracy: AMAZON.LITERAL was added to an early version of the Alexa Skills Kit to help you capture input from your customers into slots. Enhancements to the Alexa Skills Kit since the early version provide more accurate ways to capture slots than relying on AMAZON.LITERAL. So AMAZON.LITERAL is being retired. Your options: Extend Built-In Slots (make a dragon an AMAZON.Animal for example), Define Custom Slots, Use SearchQuery to Capture Indeterminate Values, Use the AMAZON.FallbackIntent to Capture Unexpected Utterances, Construct Your Slots and Utterances to Capture Pieces of Your Utterances.

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Smart Voice Conference 2018 (November 13, 2018 - Cologne, Germany): Great speakers, insightful topics. Definitely a must-go, if you're looking into making your next move in voice.