Google’s smarter chatterbox

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This Monday, we’re deep diving into Google’s plans to make your smart home even smarter, Adobe’s tech to make your skin picture perfect, and Shopify’s goal to go Web 3.0. Let’s take a look. 

#1. Google’s (smarter) smart speaker

Talking to your smart speaker can be like arguing with a roommate who isn’t listening but is connected to the internet. Google is determined to fix your relationship. 

The company filed a number of patent applications for tech aiming to make talking to your smart home a more conversationally fluid experience. First up: the company wants to patent tech enabling “natural conversations” using what it calls “soft endpointing.” Through natural language understanding, this tech can tell whether a user has merely paused in the middle of a sentence, or if they have finished speaking, allowing a user to take more time when giving a smart home a command. If they’ve paused, the system will fill the space with an utterance to show that it’s still listening, for example, saying “mhmm.” 

“These turn-based dialog sessions, from a perspective of the user, may not be natural since they do not reflect how humans actually converse with one another,” Google said in its filing. 

Next, Google wants to correct any misunderstandings. The company filed a patent for fixing “speech misrecognition” of spoken commands. Essentially, this tech aims to correct when a smart assistant mishears a user, such as if it mistakes one word for another which sounds phonetically similar, by allowing a user to quickly correct the smart assistant without starting an entirely new command. 

In one example, a user asks the speaker “turn on the light in Red’s room,” and the assistant responds “Turning on the lights in the bedroom.” Rather than the user having to say “turn off the lights in the bedroom” and “turn on the lights in Red’s room,” a user can just say “I said Red’s room,” and the system will correct its mistake.