Huw Geddes's Blog
With rumours of upgrades to the iPhone's audio capabilities set to be announced next week at the iPhone 7 launch, let's look at how this could affect the Hi-Res Audio sector.
It's fairly safe to say that the way we consume music has changed significantly over the last five years. The CD is clinging on, but if Google Trends (see graph below) is accurate this is mostly as Christmas presents. Vinyl has made a comeback among audiophiles. And streaming services have really taken off; Spotify alone receives a greater proportion of Google searches than CDs, overtaking it for the first time in March 2015 and staying ahead for all except the Christmas period.
I've mentioned before that voice interfaces will provide new opportunities for great innovative products. But while big technology companies like Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook invest huge amounts of money into developing the natural language interfaces that enable speech recognition, we've so far seen few smaller companies taking advantage of the rich diversity of available hardware and software that is available.
So it's great news that the Chinese hardware company Seeed Studios have announced on KickStarter their latest product, a modular development platform called ReSpeaker, with the objective of adding voice interaction to products in your home or office:
A lot has changed in the streaming audio sector since I wrote my blog last year. And while outwardly it looks similar, some companies have gone into receivership and others are seriously contemplating IPOs mainly due to the costs involved in delivering a lossless streaming service. Yet the rewards are likely to be great for those that can make it work, so let's see what's happened to the main players in the last year.
Dag Kittlaus, CEO of Viv Labs (viv.ai), has recently given some impressive demonstrations of his latest AI technologies, but one thing that always looks odd during the Viv demonstrations is that he holds the phone very close to his mouth. He’s almost eating his phone every time – it’s like something from Trigger Happy TV. Dag needs to make sure that the quality of captured speech is clear enough for the software to decipher the content of the commands, but it’s not a real-world scenario. We’re not all going to want to "eat" our phones in order to book an airfare for next week.
I've just watched a promotional film that Orange recorded in 1999 called The Future's Bright The Future's Orange. It was striking that all the film's ambitions are as relevant to voice interactions today as they were to the world of mobile communications almost two decades ago.