Alexa Might Not Get Much Smarter Than It Is Right Now

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“Hey Alexa, can you make some money?”

As reported by The Wall Street Journal, Amazon is aiming to reduce prices by slimming down a few of its much less worthwhile departments. The massive one is Alexa, Amazon’s voice assistant software program. Despite Alexa’s existence inside thousands and thousands of Echo gadgets and different sensible audio system around the globe, the enterprise of constructing, supporting, and licensing a voice assistant platform has apparently been much less worthwhile than Amazon hoped. (According to the WSJ, the Alexa enterprise has been working at a $5 billion-per-year loss.)

Amazon has a pair choices right here. It can both spend money on Alexa and work so as to add extra features, or reduce its efforts to enhance the service and let it exist as is. However, because the WSJ report notes, most customers sometimes get right into a behavior of solely utilizing just a few key voice instructions. If that’s the case, it might make extra sense for Amazon to let Alexa be as a substitute of continuous so as to add extra options.

Alexa is just not the one voice assistant with an unsure future. Google made the same transfer in October, when a part of its cost-cutting restructuring plan deemphasized this system that places Google Assistant into associate gadgets like sensible audio system. Both of those reprioritizations come as firms throughout the technosphere lay off hundreds of workers. It is probably not the tip of an period precisely, however it’s clear the businesses don’t see their voice assistants as high priorities when dealing with an financial downturn.

Here’s some extra information from the world of client tech.

Apple Spaces Out

If you’re vulnerable to getting misplaced within the woods, Apple would really like you to know that it’s going to quickly have your again. The firm has made a giant push into emergency response tech not too long ago. At its iPhone 14 announcement occasion in September, Apple touted its new capacity to find individuals exterior of mobile or Wi-Fi reception vary. The service, which Apple calls Emergency SOS by way of Satellite, is launching later this month.

Apple has made a $450 million funding in emergency satellite tv for pc monitoring tech. Most of the cash goes to the US firm Globalstar, which operates the satellites used to transmit the messages. Apple’s SOS plan will cowl the US and Canada. It’s free for 2 years if you happen to purchase an iPhone 14, although Apple hasn’t stated how a lot it’ll cost clients after that.

LG Rolls Another One

Forget about foldables, rollables are the place it’s at. LG continues to advance its rollable show tech with a display screen materials that you simply would possibly (ultimately) be capable of bend, curl, and warp as a lot as you want. This week, the South Korean firm confirmed off some stretchable show expertise that it says can be utilized to offer screens hitherto unrealized flexibility. The stretchy show appears like a 12-inch strip of fruit leather-based with RGB lighting in it, which could be pulled throughout all method of surfaces. 20 p.c stretchability means it’s not precisely taffy, however LG says it will probably bend about as a lot as rubber. That flexibility might lend itself to wrapping screens round nearly any floor—clothes, furnishings, partitions.

To be clear, the stretchy sheet continues to be only a prototype. LG is creating the tech for South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy. The stretchy-screen dream continues to be method off sooner or later, however LG says the plan is to finalize the federal government challenge by 2024. If all goes properly, the stretchy screens might then be applied in client gadgets.

Digging Up Mastodon

Ever since Elon Musk took over, Twitter has been in one thing of a free fall. Whether it’s due to the flood of hate speech, the inflow of “verified” scammers, or the dismantling of ethics groups on the firm, advertisers and customers alike have fled the platform. Now, individuals are scrambling to seek out a substitute for Twitter that doesn’t really feel prefer it’s being flipped the wrong way up and shaken for free change. Many individuals have turned to the decentralized platform Mastodon. So many, in truth, that Mastodon has buckled underneath the load of all its new customers.

This week on WIRED’s Gadget Lab podcast, WIRED safety editor Andrew Couts joins the present to unearth Mastodon—the way it works, what the vibes on the platform are like, and whether or not it’ll ever come near recreating the managed chaos that’s (or was) Twitter.

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