http://www.postandcourier.com/business/how-to-listen-to-everything-amazon-echo-has-ever-heard/article_5b16b66c-2503-11e7-8aff-b7ab48c660ba.html

How to listen to everything Amazon Echo has ever heard

If you own an Amazon Echo, you probably know its strange secret. The device records a lot of what you say. Deep inside that dark tower, Echo keeps a vast trove of recordings. Your voice is preserved. Your friends’ voices are preserved. Anyone who has ever been to your house and said, “Alexa!” has contributed to its great library of human sound.

On the upside, this amazing technology puts instant information a voice command away. Most people have no idea that you can do much more than get the latest weather or listen to your favorite tunes. Go to http://tinyurl.com/gugnkht for a list of Alexa commands that you’re probably not using but should.

The downside is that Amazon stores an audio recording of every voice command you’ve issued to Alexa, not just in the device itself, but on Amazon’s servers.

Most owners feel a little weird about these voice recordings. What does Amazon plan to do with what I say? Will someone break into Alexa and hack my voice? Can law enforcement access my recordings? Is Amazon going to use these sounds files for some dastardly plan?

First, let’s address why the device stores your voice in the first place. In brief, Alexa wants to obey your every command. But no matter how lifelike Alexa may be, you are still a human being talking to a machine, which has no intuition.

Tip within a tip: Go to http://tinyurl.com/m5r8vu4 for ways to control your home with Amazon Alexa and your voice.

For the software to learn, it must adapt to your style. Alexa is designed to figure out your particular style of speaking. Some people mumble, and others have thick accents. Gradually, Echo’s technology takes this into account and gets better at understanding you.

Is Echo always listening? The short answer is yes. Alexa is activated when it detects one of its wake words, which are “Alexa,” “Amazon,” “Computer,” or “Echo.” You’ll know that the device is ready for a command when the outer ring at the top glows blue.

According to Amazon, a fraction of a second of audio before the wake word is stored along with each recording. So if you’ve having a conversation and say something like, “I love that song! Let’s listen to it. Alexa, play the Coldplay song, ‘Viva La Vida,’” then Alexa may keep the words “listen to it.”

Listen

Surprise! You can access all those recordings and listen to every command you’ve ever given since first installing the Echo in your house. Crazy, right?

I’m guessing that most people don’t realize they have this ability. But indeed, you can review your voice log with the Alexa app on iOS and Android and the app also allows you to scroll through your activity and listen to each recording.

I was surprised that some of my recordings had nothing to do with giving Alexa commands. There was me talking on my phone about my old studios that I was selling. Alexa also recorded portions of a presidential television debate. I am not sure why my real estate phone call was recorded. But one of the candidates almost said the word “Alexa.”

If you’d like to review your old recordings, pull up the Alexa app and visit the History section of the Settings menu. Tap on the entry you’d like to review in greater detail and tap the Play icon to listen to the recording. Given the hundreds or thousands of commands most Echo users accumulate, you have a chronicle of requests spoken in your actual voice.

How to delete

If the thought of your recorded requests and other things you might have said stored in a database creeps you out, you can delete them. You need to remove the associated entry of each recording on the Alexa app. Here are the steps to delete recordings:

  • Open the Alexa app and go into the Settings section.
  • Select History and you’ll see a list of all the entries.
  • Select an entry and tap the Delete button.

But what happens if you want to delete all those recordings? Do you have to find each one and manually remove it? That could take days.

Amazon allows you remove everything with one click. Just visit the “Manage Your Content and Devices” at www.amazon.com/mycd.

Keep in mind that Amazon warns, “deleting voice recordings may degrade your Alexa experience.”

Keep it from listening

The gravity of this listening reality was brought to light in the murder trial of a man named James Bates. In February 2016, James Bates was officially charged with the murder of Victor Collins. Amazon was served a warrant requesting the audio files from Bates’s Amazon Echo. But Amazon fought back.

Amazon believed complying with such a warrant could violate consumers’ rights to privacy. Why then, did Amazon ultimately hand over the audio files? In an unexpected twist, Bates provided consent for the police to review the Echo’s data. Because of this abrupt change, we’ll never know how Amazon would have defended themselves in their fight to protect their customers’ private data. Go to http://tinyurl.com/k3mzj3a for additional details about the murder case and Amazon’s actions.

If you want to prevent Echo from listening to you, switch off Echo’s microphone. There is an on/off button on the top of the device, and whenever the button is red, the mic is off. To reactivate it, just press the button again.

Muting the mic will stop Echo from listening. However, disabling the mic will also defeat the purpose of these virtual assistants. Yes, Echo provides some pretty great sound quality, especially for a Bluetooth speaker, but you won’t be able to deliver commands.

So even if you love your Echo, allow yourself a bit of privacy. Alexa is great to have around, but sometimes, three’s a crowd.

http://www.livemint.com/Industry/M4mOPWRf0L9cSH0OBWpniL/Apple-selfdriving-car-testing-plan-gives-clues-to-tech-prog.html

Apple self-driving car testing plan gives clues to tech programme

Apple included a 10-page training plan that appeared to be related to operators taking back manual control of the self-driving car during automated exercises of the system

San Francisco: Apple Inc. outlined a plan to train operators of self-driving cars in documents submitted to California regulators earlier this month, the latest clues to the company’s autonomous vehicle technology aspirations.

Apple was granted a permit to test self-driving cars on 14 April by the California department of motor vehicles but the company has never said anything about its plan.

The state released 41 pages of Apple application documents to Reuters that give some clues about the company’s highly secret self-driving effort, which it has never openly acknowledged.

The iPhone maker joins a long list of carmakers, start-ups and technology rivals, including Alphabet’s Waymo, that are testing cars on state roads. Apple is looking for new hit products and autonomous car technology is expected to revolutionize the traditional auto industry.

As part of the application, Apple included a 10-page training plan that appeared to be related to operators taking back manual control of the car during automated driving exercises of the system, which it calls a development platform.

Apple declined comment beyond the filing.

The plan includes a document called “Automated System: Development Platform Specific Training Overview” whose objective is “to train safety drivers in various automated driving conditions”. “Development platform will be controlled electronically (e.g. joystick) and safety drivers must be ready to intervene and take control,” the document reads.

The document highlights different scenarios to be tested, from high speed driving and tight U-turns to lane changes. One letter sent from Apple to the state department of motor vehicles noted that Apple’s development platform “will have the ability to capture and store relevant data before a collision occurs”.

The document does not include detail on how Apple’s self-driving platform actually works or other technical details. It also does not say what kind of sensors are found on Apple’s three permitted vehicles, all 2015 Lexus model RX450h. The permit does not necessarily mean that Apple itself is building a full car. Apple could instead be designing a self-driving platform that can be integrated into other manufacturer’s cars. Reuters

http://www.livemint.com/Industry/M4mOPWRf0L9cSH0OBWpniL/Apple-selfdriving-car-testing-plan-gives-clues-to-tech-prog.html

Apple self-driving car testing plan gives clues to tech programme

Apple included a 10-page training plan that appeared to be related to operators taking back manual control of the self-driving car during automated exercises of the system

San Francisco: Apple Inc. outlined a plan to train operators of self-driving cars in documents submitted to California regulators earlier this month, the latest clues to the company’s autonomous vehicle technology aspirations.

Apple was granted a permit to test self-driving cars on 14 April by the California department of motor vehicles but the company has never said anything about its plan.

The state released 41 pages of Apple application documents to Reuters that give some clues about the company’s highly secret self-driving effort, which it has never openly acknowledged.

The iPhone maker joins a long list of carmakers, start-ups and technology rivals, including Alphabet’s Waymo, that are testing cars on state roads. Apple is looking for new hit products and autonomous car technology is expected to revolutionize the traditional auto industry.

As part of the application, Apple included a 10-page training plan that appeared to be related to operators taking back manual control of the car during automated driving exercises of the system, which it calls a development platform.

Apple declined comment beyond the filing.

The plan includes a document called “Automated System: Development Platform Specific Training Overview” whose objective is “to train safety drivers in various automated driving conditions”. “Development platform will be controlled electronically (e.g. joystick) and safety drivers must be ready to intervene and take control,” the document reads.

The document highlights different scenarios to be tested, from high speed driving and tight U-turns to lane changes. One letter sent from Apple to the state department of motor vehicles noted that Apple’s development platform “will have the ability to capture and store relevant data before a collision occurs”.

The document does not include detail on how Apple’s self-driving platform actually works or other technical details. It also does not say what kind of sensors are found on Apple’s three permitted vehicles, all 2015 Lexus model RX450h. The permit does not necessarily mean that Apple itself is building a full car. Apple could instead be designing a self-driving platform that can be integrated into other manufacturer’s cars. Reuters

http://indianexpress.com/article/technology/science/new-approach-may-lead-to-high-power-batteries-4625075/

New approach may lead to high-powered batteries

Scientists develop a new approach that may increase the performance of electric storage devices and also reduce their size.

car batteries, Stanford University, superior storage capacity,  super capacitors, transition from fossil fuels to renweables, science, Science newsAdvancing new materials for energy storage is an important step towards reducing carbon emissions in the transportation and electricity sectors. (Image for representation Source: Reuters)

Scientists have developed a new approach that may lead to increase in the performance of high-power electrical storage devices such as car batteries and also decrease their size.Researchers from Stanford University in the US developed a mathematical model for designing new materials for storing electricity.

“The potential here is that you could build batteries that last much longer and make them much smaller,” said Daniel Tartakovsky, professor at Stanford University. “If you could engineer a material with a far superior storage capacity than what we have today, then you could dramatically improve the performance of batteries,” Tartakovsky said.

Also Read:  Gen-next smartphone batteries in the offing
Advancing new materials for energy storage is an important step towards reducing carbon emissions in the transportation and electricity sectors.One of the primary obstacles to transitioning from fossil fuels to renewables is the ability to store energy for later use, such as during hours when the sun is not shining in the case of solar power, researchers said.

Researchers hope the new materials developed through this model will improve supercapacitors, a type of next-generation energy storage that could replace rechargeable batteries in high-tech devices like cellphones and electric vehicles.Supercapacitors combine the best of what is currently available for energy storage – batteries, which hold a lot of energy but charge slowly, and capacitors, which charge quickly but hold little energy, researchers said.

The materials must be able to withstand both high power and high energy to avoid breaking, exploding or catching fire.”We developed a model that would allow materials chemists to know what to expect in terms of performance if the grains are arranged in a certain way, without going through these experiments,” Tartakovsky said.

“This framework also shows that if you arrange your grains like the model suggests, then you will get the maximum performance,” he said.The model could be a huge benefit to chemists and materials scientists, who traditionally rely on trial and error to create new materials for batteries and capacitors, researchers said.The study was published in the journal Applied Physics Letters.

http://gadgets.ndtv.com/apps/news/whatsapp-iphone-update-gives-siri-the-ability-to-read-out-your-latest-messages-1684580

WhatsApp iPhone Update Gives Siri the Ability to Read Out Your Latest Messages

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Siri can now read out your latest unread messages
  • Calls tab, Contact info, and Group info screens get new UI
  • WhatsApp iPhone update also brings Persian support & other features
 WhatsApp on Friday released a new update for the iPhone, which brings some nifty little visual improvements along with the ability to have Siri read out your latest messages. The new WhatsApp update (v2.17.2) is now available via the App Store.

The latest version of WhatsApp, which is about 89MB in size, highlights four key updates – you can ask Siri to read out your latest messages; visual improvements to the Calls tab, Contact info, and Group info screens; ability to select multiple statuses at once in the My Updates screen which you can forward and delete; and support for Persian language.

whatsapp update iphone whatsapp

Talking about the Siri-related update, WhatsApp already let you to compose and send WhatsApp messages through Siri. The new update know enables Siri to read out your latest messages to you hands free, which will come in handy when you’re driving, for instance.

The functionality only works if you have some unread messages. Say something like “Hey Siri, read my last WhatsApp message” and Siri will read out the new messages to you and will then prompt you to compose a reply. You can then choose to reply to the message by dictating it to Siri. We tried the new feature and it seems to work as promised. You should also note that once Siri has read your latest messages, it won’t be able to read it again the second time. Furthermore, this feature will only work for users who are on the iOS 10.3+.

Iwhatsapp siri update whatsapp

The WhatsApp update also brings some visual changes to the Calls tab, Contact info, and Group info screens. On opening any one of the screens, you’ll notice that the display images enlarge as you scroll down, and the various options below have colourful icons next to them for some added flavour to what was otherwise a fairly dull interface.

whatsapp update group whatsapp

The update also lets you select multiple statuses in the My Update section which you can forward or delete, a redesigned two-step verification interface makes it easier to set up and the camera function now remembers the lens you used last – front or back. As mentioned earlier, WhatsApp has also added support for Persian language with the latest update to its iPhone app.

https://www.rt.com/viral/385780-neuralink-brain-interface-urban/

Elon Musk’s Neuralink could represent next stage of human evolution

More details on Elon Musk’s futuristic Neuralink venture have been revealed in an illustrated blog post, including how the advanced technology could see us communicate wirelessly just by thinking within 10 years.

It’s finally here: the full story on Neuralink. I knew the future would be nuts but this is a whole other level. http://waitbutwhy.com/2017/04/neuralink.html 

Wait But Why published the 36,400-word deep dive into Neuralink using stick figure illustrations to explain in simple terms what Musk has in mind for, well, our minds.

The blog post comes one month after Musk announced Neuralink, his latest plan to merge the human brain with AI using brain implants.

Long Neuralink piece coming out on @waitbutwhy in about a week. Difficult to dedicate the time, but existential risk is too high not to.

The post, however, was written by blogger and cartoonist Tim Urban after studying Neuralink for six weeks, a process which involved meeting with Musk. Urban was secretly working on his Neuralink breakdown weeks before the billionaire inventor made the official announcement.

Eager fans have been waiting to hear more about the venture ever since Musk promised a long piece on the subject the day of the announcement.

@waitbutwhy @hstaudmyer I have probably checked your website about 100 times to see if the neuralink post has been complete!

Urban said he’s “convinced that Neuralink somehow manages to eclipse Tesla and SpaceX in both the boldness of its engineering undertaking and the grandeur of its mission.”

Urban has written other detailed breakdowns on Musk’s projects for Wait But Why, including Tesla and SpaceX.

READ MORE: New Elon Musk venture aims to connect human brain with AI

Neuralink’s “whole brain interface” will use tiny brain electrodes that will eventually allow us to communicate wirelessly with the world, and to share our exact thoughts and visions without having to use spoken or written language. The brain could also learn faster and have access to all the world’s knowledge.

“I think we are about eight to ten years away from this being usable by people with no disability,” Musk said in an interview with Urban.

According to Musk, who has taken on the role as Neuralink’s CEO, today’s existing technology already makes us “digitally superhuman.”

“The thing that would change is the interface,” Musk explained. “Having a high-bandwidth interface to your digital enhancements.”

Musk’s plan is to first create cutting-edge brain machine interfaces (BMIs) to be used to help people with brain injuries, building on existing technology used in medicine.

“We are aiming to bring something to market that helps with certain severe brain injuries (stroke, cancer lesion, congenital) in about four years,” Musk told Urban.

This will help fund the company to make additional breakthroughs in implantation and increasing the bandwidth needed for the technology, which will in turn create industry-wide innovation.

It will eventually lead to mass adoption of the “whole brain interface,” which will allow us to communicate wirelessly with the world in a way that feels as natural as thinking does, Urban explains.

The future seems smart nuts, if you go with Elon Musk’s by @waitbutwhy – amplifying the human brain with an gateway;

Musk met with over 1,000 people to find the right cross-disciplinary team of experts who each bring their own unique knowledge and expertise to create a group that can think as a single “mega-expert.”

The SpaceX CEO describes the whole-brain interface as a “digital tertiary layer,” for our brains, and says his vision isn’t so far from where we are now.

“We already have a digital tertiary layer in a sense,” Musk said, “In that you have your computer or your phone or your applications.”

“You can ask a question via Google and get an answer instantly. You can access any book or any music. With a spreadsheet, you can do incredible calculations.”

“You’re already a different creature than you would have been twenty years ago, or even ten years ago,” he said, adding people are already “kind of merged with their phone and their laptop and their applications and everything,” he added.

Musk’s plan faces a number of challenges before it can become widespread, including having enough ‘bandwidth’ to process the advanced technology and finding non-invasive and biocompatible methods to implant BMIs so they do not feel like a foreign object in our bodies.

The ten-year timeline also depends on a number of factors. “It is important to note that this depends heavily on regulatory approval timing and how well our devices work on people with disabilities.” Musk said.

Urban highlighted a number of risks associated with mass adoption of the whole brain interface, including computer-like bugs and brain hacking.

As for fears that having such technology will allow people to see your thoughts, Musk explained, “People won’t be able to read your thoughts—you would have to will it. If you don’t will it, it doesn’t happen.”

http://www.tomsguide.com/us/apple-watch-3-rumors,news-24938.html

Apple Watch Series 3 Rumors: What Apple’s Planning for its Next Smartwatch

Although the smartwatch is still very much a niche category, it’s hard to deny that the Apple Watch has established itself at the top of the heap for wearables. Two years after the first Apple smartwatch appeared, we’ve already seen one significant update to the device, along with a bump to the original model. Still, we can’t help but wonder what Apple has planned next.

Unlike the upcoming iPhone 8, which has seen a blitz of rumors and reports, the next Apple Watch has mostly flown under the radar. But there are some rumors floating around out there, and given Apple CEO Tim Cook’s fondness for the device, it seems a certainty that the company is far from done with updates to its smartwatch line. Here’s what you can expect from the Apple Watch Series 3.

Apple Watch 3 Rumors at Glance

  • Release could be in fall 2017 to coincide with iPhone 8 but may be pushed back to spring.
  • 4G for staying connected away from your phone.
  • Camera to enable FaceTime calls on the go.
  • Improved battery life, which would be achieved through microLED screen technology.
  • Modular wristband for adding features, such as glucose readings for diabetics.
  • watchOS 4 will provide more complete fitness and health assessment.
  • Price to remain in $300 to $500 range.

When will the Apple Watch 3 come out?

Compared with the iPhone, which has received regular yearly updates since its release in 2007, Apple Watch updates come out with less regularity. The Series 2 models arrived in fall 2016, a year and a half after the original model’s spring 2015 debut. If that pattern were to continue, it would peg spring 2018 as the most likely release date for a Series 3 model.

However, if there’s one thing Apple is known for when it comes to product announcements, it’s surprise. Depending on the company’s strategy and production, there’s a reasonable chance of a six-month swing — in either direction — in that release date.

Most recently, a report in China’s Economic Daily News, spotted by MacRumors, suggests that a third-generation Watch will ship in 2017, appearing at a fall event that would likely place it alongside the next iPhone. That’s a definite possibility, so expect reports to  pick up if that date proves accurate

What features will Apple add to the next Apple Watch?

With its initial Apple Watch release, Apple seemingly tried to include everything and the kitchen sink in the wearable device. That certainly left less room for low-hanging fruit in future models, though the Series 2 Watch added a few major missing features in the form of GPS and better water resistance.

That leaves one other significant capability lacking from current versions of the Apple Watch: cellular connectivity. While the current Apple Watch models can work without an iPhone present as long as there’s a known Wi-Fi network, you can’t take just your Apple Watch with you and expect to have full connectivity.

However, adding 4G to the Apple Watch comes with its own challenges, such as increased size and weight and the need for better battery life, not to mention added cost from a cellular provider. Apple may not have figured out those issues yet for the Watch Series 3, so it’s hardly a sure bet for the next iteration of the device.

Rumors have also abounded since the release of the first Apple Watch that the company would add a camera to the device, largely fueled by an Apple patent from 2016. Such a camera would likely serve several purposes, from holding FaceTime video chats to taking selfies to being used as an input method — scanning bar codes, for example.

While a camera did not materialize for the Apple Watch Series 2, it remains a possibility for Series 3. However, the enthusiasm is somewhat dampened based on the ergonomics of the solution — holding up your arm for long periods  is tiring and uncomfortable — and the security/privacy concerns of adding a camera to a device on your wrist.

Current speculation has focused on somewhat more mundane updates from the next Apple Watch, including a report that Apple is working to improve the device’s battery life — perhaps in advance of adding cellular connectivity — and another that it might update the watch’s OLED display technology. While some have suggested that microLED technology could provide thinner, lighter and brighter screens, that technology has yet to be put into mass production and may not be ready for a 2017 release. That said, a recent report in DigiTimes, spotted by 9to5Mac, does suggest that the company will turn to a new glass-film touch-screen technology that would presumably reduce thickness and weight as well.

Is a modular wristband on the way?

Apple might not only change t just the style of its watchbands in the next version of the wearable, but make them smarter, too. That would likely be accomplished by adding more tech inside the bands themselves, whether that means something like extra battery cells, additional sensors, a camera, a second display or more. Much of this theory is also based on an Apple patent for modular technology in a wristband from earlier this year.

One thing a modular wristband could include is an additional health sensor for glucose monitoring. A report from CNBC says that Apple has an engineering team working on a noninvasive method of measuring blood sugar, which could be a huge boon to diabetics. The technology is said to be far enough along to have reached the clinical trial-stage, though it would still need regulatory approval.

What can we expect from the next watchOS update?

While the Apple Watch’s hardware gets a lot of attention, Apple’s watchOS software is doing most of the heavy lifting in terms of the watch’s usefulness and capabilities. The watchOS 2 and 3 have greatly refined the experience of the Watch, which, hopefully, means that watchOS 4 will continue to bring new life to existing Apple Watches as well.

If Apple follows its traditional release schedule, watchOS 4 will likely be announced at this summer’s Worldwide Developers Conference, which starts June 5. A final release would come in the fall, likely around when Apple rolls out new versions of iOS and macOS.

As to what features will find its way into watchOS 4, rumors have been pretty sparse about software, since there’s no supply chain to provide leaks. There have been suggestions that Apple has been looking into adding sleep tracking to its array of health features. Additionally, the same report from Bloomberg says the company may also add a fitness-assessment capability, which would interpret the heart-rate data the Watch already logs. For instance, the Apple Watch could measure how long it takes you to go back to resting heart rate after exertion to determine your level of health.

How much will the Apple Watch 3 cost?

Apple products traditionally target the higher end of a price range, and both the original and Series 2 versions of the Apple Watch definitely fall into that category. We’ve seen the base versions of the watch hover in the $300-$500 range, and a Series 3 Apple Watch would be likely no different.

The big question is how many editions of the Series 3 Apple will create. The original Apple Watch had three models — the aluminum Sport, the standard stainless-steel Apple Watch and the pricey gold Edition — while the Series 2 changed it up by offering the Apple Watch in either aluminum or steel, special co-branded Nike and Hermès versions and the top-end ceramic Edition. Expect the Series 3 to follow the Series 2 pattern; the multi-thousand-dollar Edition models made a splash, but Apple has seemed to move away from aiming for the truly luxury market.

What we want to see from the Apple Watch 3

Like most Apple products, the Apple Watch is a marriage of hardware and software. So, regarding improvements to the overall device, there are several things we’d like to see in both arenas that could lead to a better Apple Watch.

Regarding hardware, improvements to battery life and connectivity are certainly at the top of the chart. Being able to use the Apple Watch in more situations and for longer periods  would go a long way to integrating the device more into our daily lives. Improved battery efficiency could also enable long-awaited features, like an always-on display.

A thinner and lighter Watch wouldn’t go amiss, either, and it could even be interesting to see Apple toy with the idea of a round display, a feature  rivals have tried, with mixed results. And, as ever, faster performance would be at the top of the list for many users who still find the Apple Watch sluggish at times.

But there’s far more opportunity for improvement with the watchOS software. Some elements of the original Apple Watch design have not aged well — the honeycomb home screen, for example — and could use revisiting in a future watchOS update. Likewise, opening up watch faces to third-party developers could give users even more personalization and customization options than what Apple provides. Native apps for Notes and the recently rebranded Apple Podcasts would be welcome additions, too; though, let’s not go crazy: no need for iBooks on the Watch — not yet, anyway.

Credit: Jeremy Lips/Tom’s Guide