Regular citizens are getting a taste of what it's like to be a celebrity, in that the concept of privacy gets whittled away at every turn. Is the government spying on you? That probably depends on what you're doing in your spare time. Are you being watched? Better cover that webcam just to play it safe. Might someone on the opposite side of the world be listening to your conversation? It's possible, especially if you use Google's Chrome browser to surf the web.
The competition for voice activation technology in mobile products has escalated in the last six months in large part due to the launch of Siri, Apple's "personal assistant", on the iPhone 4S. Several developers have attempted to fill in the gap on Android by offering voice-centric apps that provide access to search and other functions, with mixed success. One such app is Dragon Go! by Nuance Communications.
Update: This post originally didn't mention that it was Techie-Buzz.com that originally broke this story. Our apologies!
Microsoft spent E3 basically rubbing the Kinect in everybody's faces. The future of gaming lies in voice control and real-time head tracking, Microsoft proclaimed from its keynote pulpit. Bing Search! Kinect Labs! Bossing your squadmates around in Mass Effect 3! We were starting to think that the goliath from Redmond actually wanted to push gaming into the future.
Then a US trademark filing brought us back to reality. It's not about the future – it's about the cash.
Google Voice. Situation: It's a pretty awesome competitor to good ol' Skype, especially when you use its crazy powers to forward calls from your magical number to physical locations all over the world. I, for one, use Google voice to get into my own apartment. Ringing me up on the ol' call box in front of my condo complex calls my Google Voice number (local calls only!), which in turn buzzes up my cell phone which, in turn, lets me go home.
That's just one interesting use of an otherwise awesome service. There are many more. Problem: There are not nearly as many apps--Web-based or downloadable--that allow you to interact with Google Voice in unique, cool ways. I've scrounged together five for your enjoyment but, honestly, we're scraping the barrel this week in terms of available software.
So, that said, go register a Google Voice number. And while you're doing that, start skimming this article for awesome new ways to use the service!
I'm an avid fan of (and former talking head on) Maximum PC's weekly podcast. But sometimes, that's just not enough audio tech news for my liking. I'm not a fan of other podcasts; that would be cheating. But I am a huge proponent of Firefox add-ons, and I've found one that satiates my need to hear my news instead of read it-surely you'll be able to find a better use for this interesting add-on, I would hope.
The extension in question is called Text to Voice and, as the name (so often) implies, it allows you to conjure up a Stephen Hawking kind of narrator to read whatever it is you find in your Firefox Web browser. Using this add-on couldn't be any easier, seriously. I'll show you just how it works after the jump!
I've spoken of the wonders of Chrome's Google Mail Checker Plus extension before. If you missed the memo, here's a quick hit: Mail Checker Plus drops a little icon next to your address bar that gives you a frequent update as to how many unread messages are in your Gmail account. You'd think that was it, given the simplicity of what said extension has to do. However, Google Mail Checker Plus dumps a ton of options into your lap for complete and total customization of this little icon and its functionality, including the ability to drop a preview window that gives you a quick glance as to what said emails actually are, as well as complete color controls and "always-on" SSL connectivity.
Great, eh? But frequent users of Google's services will note that there's more than just Gmail to worry about. What's going on in your Google Reader feed? Any new messages come through Google Voice? What the heck is Wave and how many unread messages do you have on your watery messaging service?
That's where the simplicity of the extension One Number comes into play. To find out what this helpful add-on does, and learn all about its extensive configuration options, hit the jump!
Dolby isn't necessarily looking to improve the quality of your voice while chatting in-game, but it would like your vocals to interact with the gaming environment in a more realistic fashion. That's the idea behind Dolby's Axon technology, a tool the company introduced today at the Austin Game Developers Conference in Austin, Texas.
The basic idea is that this new tool will make it possible to enable surround panning and distance attenuation, so that your character will sound different if, say, he's behind a wall or closed door as opposed to both you and your teammate standing next to each other in the same room. Think of Creative's EAX technology, only this time it's applied to your voice.
Voice fonts come part of the package too, so if you choose a female avatar, you can sound the part no matter what body organs you may or may not have in real life. And according to Dolby, its Axon software has been designed to consume very little bandwidth, capable of supporting thousands of users per server and able to scale across multiple servers.
No customers have yet been announced, and it's consumer interest that might ultimately decide how many developers jump on board. With the increasingly popularity of Skype and stalwarts such as Teamspeak, is the prospect of customized and realistic in-game chat enough to convince gamers to turn off their third-party voice-chat programs?