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Google is using Speak To Go in new way, obvious yet still pretty cool

(TECH NEWS) Google is using an old trick with their new VR and has the potential to create something super cool.

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Virtual reality’s real life popularity

As many of you may or may not know, virtual reality (VR) headsets and software are the current flavors of the month (read: year).

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The Oculus, HTC Vive, PlayStation VR, Google Cardboard, Google Daydream, and Samsung Gear seem to be the most popular. However, the Google Cardboard conveniently stands out in the list due to its much more inexpensive nature. Overall, though, it is safe to say customers definitely have options when it comes to VR headsets.

New VR uses

Seeing as there’s apparent consumer interest in the technology, it should come as no surprise that a wealth of technology companies are jumping on the bandwagon. The technology has its doubters, of course.

The primary argument being that it will become just another gimmick used to drive up the cost of otherwise mediocre materials, akin to 3-D.

Regardless, companies are certainly coming up with some pretty neat applications for the technology.

Case in point

Google just unveiled a slew of VR web applications on its WebVR Experiments page- one of the most interesting of the bunch being the “Speak to Go” app.

Using the pre-existing Google Earth program, “Speak to Go” allows users to explore the world using voice commands.

In case you were wondering, this is the point where you, dear reader, go: “Oooohhh” and/or “Ahhhh”.

Speak to go

Having used the desktop application, I personally felt it to be somewhat entertaining, but overall unnecessary.

It is more of a fun feature than a useful tool.

Conversely, however, I can easily imagine that the immersiveness of a VR headset creating an altogether different experience. Both the ability to explore the app without a mouse, as well as the 360 degree views could easily have customers spending large chunks of time with the services.

How it works

The name is self-explanatory when it comes to controlling the app. Just in case anyone is unsure, however:

1.) If users wish to view a specific place or address, all they need do is speak it to the app and it will bring up a fairly accurate street view of said location.
2.) If they choose, they can also speak the name of a city or country, and it will choose a spot at random in whatever location was said.
3.) Lastly, one can visit a spot at random on the map using the “I’m feeling lucky” command.

Remember that trip to Maldives you can’t afford yet?

Well, now you can visit it virtually! Of course, your virtual visit will be constituted of a 3-D panoramic made up of still images. But, you know, put on some ocean sounds and sit out in the sun for a bit and you’ll at least get a small portion of that island experience you’ve been craving.

While it would certainly be a neat experience in virtual reality, the technology has a way to go before it becomes something truly monumental.

However, it certainly does not seem to be too far in the future before one will be able to experience video feeds on a VR headset of many areas on the map. Combine that with the “I’m feeling lucky function,” and users will be able to virtually visit some pretty far out places.

VR’s next direction?

Though it is a fairly obvious step, the introduction of “Speak to Go” certainly seems to be a very strong step in the right direction for the VR industry. Traveling is something that many wish to do, but because of economic and/or personal reasons, are unable to.

As such, travel is a prime example of an industry that should, and could make use of VR technology.

Businesses wishing to make VR software need take note of this, as the success of the technology will likely be in creating experiences for customers that they may otherwise be unable to have in real life.

As evidenced by 3-D technology, kitschy gimmicks will only last so long before consumers begin to tire of them.

Virtual reality has the potential to be a truly influential medium- why not, then, create things for it that showcase that?

Then again, we could already be a part of the Matrix and be completely unaware. I mean, I guess that is a distinct possibility too. (If that were the case though, would it then be a virtual reality within a pre-existing virtual reality? Like a digital Inception? Weird.)

#SpeakToVR

Andrew Clausen is a Staff Writer at The American Genius and when he's not deep diving into technology and business news for you, he is a poet, enjoys rock climbing, monster movies, and spending time with his notoriously naughty cat.

Tech News

Earbuds that are noise cancelling hit the market just in time for the holidays

(TECH NEWS) There are no shortage of earbuds on the market, however, Nuheara’s noise cancelling, bluetooth earbuds are sure to top everyone’s wish list.

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Noise cancelling earbuds are efficient for blocking out the world around you – when all you want to hear is your music and nothing else. However, for those who want a smaller, sleeker alternative, Nuheara is the perfect fit.

Nuheara are wireless audio earbuds that are customizable to your hearing needs. Even though they have the same power as noise cancelling headphones, they can be adjusted to amplify or minimize sound based on each situation.

You can choose to blend the sounds of the streets and your new favorite album in order to be aware of the world around you. The earbuds are ideal for any situation.

The noise cancelling earbuds use SINC (Superior Intelligent Noise Control) technology, which lets every user create their custom hearing experience.

There are numerous times when it’s hard to hear because of the noise around us. This may be in crowded restaurants, concerts or even when you’re at home trying to avoid the noisy neighbor in the apartment above you.

The SINC technology applies a frequency filter to sounds you choose to hear or want to avoid. Additionally, the left and right earbuds have their own settings, so that they can be customized individually. Everything is customized through the app, so it’s up to each user to decide!

Prior to founding Nuheara, Justin Miller and David Cannington worked in the oil and gas companies creating industrial strength hearing headsets.

The feedback they received during these experiences paved the way for inventing Nuheara. People wanted a sleek headset that they could wear in everyday life, not just at their job.

The earbuds will set you back a few hundred bucks, but they come with accessories like a battery charger, carrying case and 8 different silicone tips. The battery charger provides three full charges. Nuheara earbuds are also sweat and water resistant, but they are not yet waterproof.

As wireless headphones, Nuheara are also compatible with most Bluetooth connected devices. The earbuds also use tap-touch control to make hands-free phone calls, control music and adjust settings.

There is no need to connect Nuheara to external devices to use their noise cancelling capabilities.

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Tech News

Turn your FAQ page into a chatbot without knowing how to code

(TECH NEWS) An easy way to add a chatbot to your site and automate some of your work is through this new simple tool that doesn’t require any tech know-how.

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faqbot chatbot

Reduce your workload and personalize customer service engagement with Faqbot, the tool that turns your online FAQ into a customized chatbot.

Co-founded by Denny Wong and CEO Mathis André, Faqbot uses machine learning to streamline frequently asked questions into a handy chatbot pal.

Based on your existing FAQ content, Faqbot builds a database that learns from every conversation to improve responses. Faqbot can also be used to automate sales and lead generation.

You get to design the conversation flow, mapping out a custom path to guide users to a desired outcome. Set predefined choices or free text, customize the bot’s responses, and determine what leading questions the bot should ask.

For example, on the Faqbot site, I was given two pre-set choices to click after each response from the bot. Clicking “Thanks for helping” gets the polite response “You are welcome! ;-)” complete with an old-school emoji featuring a nose.

If you select “not my question,” Faqbot uses its general response to any unanswerable question: “Sorry, I’m a chatbot. I am constantly learning and have answers to frequently asked questions. Thank you for leaving your email and we will get back to you shortly.”

Choose your own responses based on already defined FAQ or come up with new messaging to better engage and inform your customers as needed. The free text option is also available if customers wish to continue asking questions.

Of course, I had to try out some less than frequently asked questions. When I asked Faqbot “are we friends?” it kindly replied, “Absolutely. You don’t have to ask.” So I’m smitten.

However, when I tried to take it to the next level by asking “Do you love me?,” which seems to be the internet’s favorite way to harass a bot, I got the “Sorry, I’m a chatbot” response.

That’s okay. I’ll recover. Faqbot isn’t here to love, it’s here to answer questions.

You can easily install the chatbot by either copy/pasting the snippet of codes directly into your webpage, or connect Faqbot to your company’s Facebook page. No coding skills required.

Pricing is based on number of users per month, but all levels include the same service offerings of FAQ database management, messaging interface, a ticketing system, and DIY guided conversation flow. You can try out Faqbot free for 14 days by signing up on their site.

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Tech News

This note-taking app is perfect for the creative mind

(TECH NEWS) The newest app for note-taking could be a tremendous asset for a very specific type of creative that tools like trello and evernote fall short on… not all apps work for all people.

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milanote

If you’re like me, you’ve had many phases in your idea-having, note-taking life. There was the AP History period, where I decided the quality of my notes would be judged based on the tininess of my handwriting and the number of innovative abbreviations coined. There was the “song collection” period, in which I wrote down song and band names with reckless abandon, on any scrap of paper or non-paper within reach, and promptly scattered the scraps everywhere. There was the post-it era, in which every single idea was carefully documented on a “Sticky Note” that tiled over my Windows desktop and was impossible to find thereafter.

And then, there was Evernote, and Trello, and I thought my evolution was complete. I had neatly organized “Notebooks” and “Cards” and I felt very structured and efficient and spiritually done with my note-taking journey.

But a whisper of rebellion called out to me. It sounded musical, colorful, whimsical. It asked me whether I wouldn’t like to liberate myself from those neat lists and stacks, let my ideas flow, visualize my thoughts?

It introduced me to Milanote – the note-taking app truly made FOR images, not just tolerant of them.

Milanote markets itself toward creatives: “For the research, thinking and planning behind your next great piece of work.”

But the strengths of this app could benefit anyone who could use a more freeform space to collect their thoughts. A blank page resembles a peg board, and users can add images, notes, links, and more in any configuration their hearts desire. You can also link any elements together with a web of lines, or leave them on their own.

This could be a great app for early-stage brainstorming and planning, when you need to play around and be flexible.

Milanote can be collaborative, like Trello, or individual and personal, like my always-evolving grocery list in Evernote. Milanote currently works in any web browser, and iOs and Android apps are coming soon.

For up to 100 notes, Milanote can be yours free of charge. More than that, though, and you’ll have to pay $9.99 for the pro version.

Something tells me infinity should cost much more, but the organic, customizable concept is something to hold on to.

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