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Amazon Plans to Let Devices Record Before Wake Word

According to an Amazon spokesperson, the company files several patents that are not ultimately implemented into consumer-facing products

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The Amazon warehouse in San Fernando de Henares is seen during a 3-day walkout to demand better wages and working conditions, on the outskirts of Madrid, Spain. VOA

A newly-revealed patent application from Amazon shows that the e-commerce giant is planning to let Echo and other Alexa-enabled devices to record what is said even before a wake word, like “Alexa”.

Currently, Alexa-enabled devices do not understand commands when the wake word is spoken in the middle or end of the sentence.

With this patent, the company clearly seems to be looking for ways to expand the capabilities of its voice recognition technology, BuzzFeed News reported on Friday.

If implemented, the feature could let devices respond on commands with the wake word in the middle or at the end of the command.

“While such phrasings may be natural for a user, current speech processing systems are not configured to handle commands that are not preceded by a wake word. Offered is a system to correct this problem,” as per Kurt Wesley Piersol and Gabriel Beddingfield, who developed the patent.

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A delivery person pushes a cart full of Amazon boxes in New York City, U.S., Feb. 14, 2019. VOA

According to the patent application, after a wake word is detected, Alexa may “look backwards” to determine if the command came before the wake word, and use pauses in speech to identify the beginning of the command.

However, if approved, this technology could arise several security concerns among users.

According to an Amazon spokesperson, the company files several patents that are not ultimately implemented into consumer-facing products.

Also Read: Google’s Cloud Gaming Service Stadia to Share Game Titles, Pricing Soon

“The technology in this patent is not in use, and referring to the potential use of patents is highly speculative,” the report quoted the spokesperson as saying.

The patent revelation comes just weeks after some US Senators and a group of 19 consumers and public health advocates accused Amazon of recording and saving conversations that take place around its smart speakers, urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate the case. (IANS)

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Federal Judge in Washington Halts Pentagon Work with Microsoft on Cloud Contract

US Court has currently put a pause to Pentagon Work with Microsoft on Cloud Contract

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People stand in the lobby for Amazon offices in New York. Amazon says President Donald Trump's “improper pressure" and behind-the-scenes attacks harmed its chances of winning a $10 billion Pentagon contract. VOA

By Peyton Bigora

A federal judge in Washington has halted, for now, a major U.S. Defense Department cyber contract, blocking Microsoft Corp. from working on the Pentagon’s JEDI cloud-computing initiative pending the resolution of a lawsuit brought by rival Amazon.com.

In October, Microsoft was awarded the Pentagon’s Joint Enterprise Defense infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract, which has an estimated worth of around $10 billion over the next decade. The JEDI project will process and store classified data to provide the U.S. military improved communications with soldiers in the field as well as artificial intelligence to speed up war planning and fighting capabilities.

By November, Amazon Web Services, the company’s cloud computing division, filed a lawsuit alleging the Defense Department unfairly judged its bid for the contract. Amazon believes the process was tainted by U.S. President Donald Trump’s animosity towards Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s Chief Executive Officer and owner of The Washington Post newspaper, which Trump has regularly accused of bias against him.

Microsoft
The Microsoft logo in Issy-les-Moulineaux, outside Paris, France. VOA

Court of Federal Claims Judge Patricia Campbell-Smith said the JEDI contract cannot continue to be enacted “until further order of the court.” Judge Campbell-Smith’s full opinion was sealed.

While Amazon scored at least a preliminary victory, it is required to create a $42 million security fund that will be used to pay for any damages if the court later finds the injunction was improper.

Earlier this week, Amazon asked the U.S. Court of Federal Claims to allow them to question Trump and top Pentagon leaders, including former defense secretary James Mattis and Defense Secretary Mark Esper about any political interference from the White House in the awarding of the contract.

Also Read- Choosing the Right Window for Your Home

“We believe that we will ultimately be able to move forward with the work to make sure those who serve our country can access the new technology they urgently require,” said Microsoft’s spokesman Frank Shaw, adding that he is disappointed by the ruling and believes the Pentagon’s decision-making process was fair. (VOA)