Sonos Cuts Deal to Bring Amazon Alexa Voice Controls to Its Speakers

Sonos Cuts Deal to Bring Amazon Alexa Voice Controls to Its Speakers

Matt Welch began hacking his Sonos Internet-connected stereo system about two years ago, to make it easier for his wife to listen to the radio. One of his favorite creations was a software program that used the microphone on the family’s Echo, Amazon’s talking speaker, as a voice-control input for the Sonos. “Now she could walk into the room and say, ‘Sonos, play NPR,'” said Welch, a computer programmer living in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Building the program took him about a week.

Welch wasn’t the only Sonos fan spending time trying to connect Amazon’s and Sonos’s speakers. Guides for hacks began appearing online soon after the Echo debuted in late 2014. It wasn’t that hard to do for tinkerers who could comprehend sentences like this one: “Setup your server to auto-start or daemonize the node-sonos-http-api server.” Everyone else was out of luck.

That will change soon. At an event in Manhattan on Tuesday, Sonos unveiled a system developed withAmazon that will let users ask the Echo to play music on their Sonos speakers. Once the two systems are linked, it basically replaces the Echo’s speakers with Sonos’s own devices for any music applications. A test version will be available to some later this year, with a full-scale release planned for 2017. Antoine Leblond, vice president of software at Sonos, described the deal as a “long-term strategic partnership.”

Sonos has been grappling with the idea of voice controls at least as long as the Amazon Echo has been on the market, according to interviews with a half-dozen current and former Sonos employees. The fitful discussions came during a particularly challenging period in the company’s 14-year history, after a less-than-stellar holiday period for Sonos and a realization that consumers-many Sonos customers among them-really loved the Echo.

Besides partnering with Amazon, Sonos will also let customers of Spotify, and a handful of home-automation makers including Lutron, Crestron, and Control4, to control their Sonos speakers through apps. Taken together, this marks a major pivot for Sonos, which has proudly introduced new products at a glacial pace and maintained the tightest possible control over the software its listeners use to control their speakers.

Sonos, founded in 2002, makes a line of speakers that connect to the internet and one another through their own dedicated Wi-Fi networks. The speakers look good, sound great, and allow for satisfying tricks like playing Spotify in the kitchen, Soundcloud in the bedroom and Pandora everywhere else in the house-all from a single smartphone application. The company’s fans tend to exhibit enthusiasm bordering on cultishness.

When Amazon began selling the Echo in late 2014, executives at Sonos didn’t see it as a threat. Other voice-controlled platforms like Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Kinect controller for the Xbox had experienced only mixed success. Also, Amazon’s track record on hardware was spotty, and the brass at Sonos doubted a device with such inferior sound quality would tempt their core users. By last year, the idea of voice-controlled speakers had been relegated to its list of projects to get around to at some point in the misty future.

Sonos’s finicky perfectionism had been a point of pride within the company. But while being picky played well with the audio snobs that make up its fanbase, the company’s critics felt it wasn’t keeping pace with the hyperkinetic tech industry. According to four employees who left Sonos this year, the company has always suffered from a default setting of inaction. That’s not to say there aren’t ideas bouncing around its Santa Barbara headquarters. For over a year, Sonos worked on a portable speaker, code-named Hopscotch, according to two former employees. But progress stalled over the inability to decide whether it would be primarily an outdoor speaker that would also work indoors, or vice versa. The project was shelved earlier this year, according to the company.

Patrick Spence, Sonos’s president, says the company often errs on the side of conservatism because it doesn’t want to release products that don’t meet its standards. “Our first value as a company is ‘experience first’. Our second is ‘relentless progressive.'” he said. “I think there’s a natural tension between those two things.” Spence said the company is working to fine-tune that balance.

By late 2014, Sonos thought it was nearing a breakout period. In fact, things were about to get tough. Executives told employees and the public it would cross $1 billion in revenue for the first time the following year. But Sonos had a disappointing holiday season in 2014, and then again a year later. Meanwhile, the Echo was the hit of the 2015 holidays, creating a feeling of urgency bordering on panic within Sonos’s leadership, according to people who were at the company. Sonos felt like it had to do something, and fast.

In March of 2016, the company’s chief executive, John MacFarlane, announced a round of firings and said the company was focused on enabling voice control and catering to customers who pay for music subscription services.

Sonos’s engineers said it wasn’t feasible to add voice control directly to its own hardware any time soon, so the company began aggressively pursuing discussions with Amazon. “We really started to see that holiday in a truly meaningful way,” Spence said. “We’re moving at a faster pace because the market has sped up.”

The result is Amazon’s most significant hardware integration for its voice-control platform, Alexa. Being the only voice-control system to be integrated into the preferred speakers of the nerd set is a nice, but modest, affirmation for Amazon, which continues to enjoy a surprising advantage over competing platforms from the tech industry’s other behemoths.

It’s much bigger news for Sonos, which could benefit from the massive reach of Amazon’s website as it tries to land new customers. While Sonos has succeeded for more than a decade largely on the strength of its own speakers and software, it has become increasingly clear that growing larger involves a more open approach to partnerships.

Up to this point, Sonos users have had to use the company’s own mobile application to play music on the speakers. This meant that new features for music services like Spotify didn’t make it to Sonos users for months. The speaker company’s rigidity has frustrated partners and customers for years. “We’ve worked together for a long time, but we’ve both felt we haven’t been able to bring the best experience,” said Gustav Soderstrom, Spotify’s chief product officer. He says the changes announced Tuesday, which will be available in a test period starting in October, should permanently fix those shortcomings. Sonos plans to build similar integrations for all music services, although it hasn’t publicized a timeline for doing so.

If Sonos is going to remain relevant in such a fast-moving market, it felt it needed to better leverage the advances being made by other companies, said Brian Blau, an analyst at Gartner. The deal with Amazon doesn’t necessarily remove the need for Sonos to integrate voice control into future versions of its own hardware, but it does buy the company more time to figure it out. “It’s more of a full partnership between today and the day when they have the full-featured solution,” he said.

Last year in North Carolina, Welch continued to spend his evenings and weekends tinkering with his Sonos system. Eventually, friends introduced him to engineers at the company. By September, he had accepted a job at Sonos Welch says he played a tangential role in the official Echo integration, and continues to work on other projects for the company, although he’s still using his home-brewed version in his house and likes to try out new Sonos features on his family.

One of Welch’s more recent hacks was to create a series of cards that resemble baseball cards that emit radio signals. Each card is programmed to ask Sonos to play a specific children’s song, so when his young son lays one on a receiever, it plays the song pictured on the card. “That was all in the line of my exploration of new ways to control Sonos,” Welch said. But don’t expect this idea to become an official Sonos product-or even a lasting part of Welch’s household. His son quickly realized he could continuously tap the card for the Octonauts, a British children’s show, against the receiver, and keep the house buzzing with its theme song. His kid loved it. “My wife wasn’t quite as enthused,” Welch said

 

US Slams EU, but Apple Tax Demand First Issued in Washington

US Slams EU, but Apple Tax Demand First Issued in Washington
  • The US Treasury said Commission ruling endangers EU-US economic relations
  • Amazon and McDonald’s are still being investigated
  • A series of EU accusations that Google has abused its market power

The United States is furious at the European Union for handing Apple a $14.5 billion tax demand on Tuesday but EU officials say it was Washington which put them on to the scheme in the first place.

It was a US Senate report in May 2013 revealing the tech giant’s deal with the Irish government to rule a big slice of its global earnings untaxable that prompted the European Commission to launch its own inquiries the following month.

The US Treasury said the Commission’s order that Apple pay 13 billion euros in back taxes to Ireland – which the company and Dublin are appealing – endangers EU-US economic relations just as efforts to reach a transatlantic free trade pact unravel.

A senior Democratic senator said Brussels had made “a cheap money grab” for US revenues.

But his party colleague who chaired hearings into Apple’s taxes three years ago, Carl Levin, said the Europeans were only trying to take what US authorities had failed to claim by not closing loopholes that allowed firms to hoard profits overseas.

“The IRS has failed to stake a claim for US taxes on those revenues,” he said in a statement, referring to the US Internal Revenue Service. “So Europe attempts to fill the vacuum. Shame on Apple for dodging US taxes. Shame on the IRS for failing to challenge Apple’s tax avoidance.”

For Marcel Fratzscher, president of leading German economic think-tank DIW Berlin and author of a new book on growing inequality, the mudslinging between politicians reflects how global corporations have exploited competition for investment to blunt states’ efforts to co-operate against tax avoidance.

“Companies are playing one government against another,” he told Reuters.

EU Listened to Senate
EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, a straight-talking Dane who dismisses talk of leading an anti-American crusade, says the hearings at the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations chaired by Levin were what gave her Spanish predecessor grounds to demand disclosure by Apple and Ireland.

“The Commission listened and decided to look deeper into the matter,” Vestager said in June, crediting media reporting and hearings in the British parliament for also providing evidence to help break secrecy around nearly 1,000 cases across Europe.

The Commission said in its judgment on Apple that the United States and other countries were welcome to try and claim some of the unpaid taxes for themselves – highlighting just the complaints of Levin and other senators three years ago when they skewered Apple CEO Tim Cook for failing to bring cash home.

As well as Apple, Starbucks was ordered to pay more Dutch taxes and Amazon.com and McDonald’s are still being investigated; a series of EU accusations that Google, part of Alphabet Inc, has abused its market power have also fuelled complaints from US President Barack Obama’s administration that Europe is out to punish American success.

 

Competition lawyer Pierre Sabbadini said political pressures drove different responses by different authorities. Leaks and public hearings on tax deals had created pressure among voters for the EU to act in 2013, he said, while the size of the companies targeted gave them clout with political leaders, too.

“When investigation-target companies have grown to the size of Apple, they can reach out for political support,” he said.

The Obama administration has taken its own action to curb tax avoidance schemes lately. In April, amid public controversy over drug company Pfizer’s proposed merger with Allergan Plc of Ireland, it announced plans to curb so-called “tax inversions”, by which US firms have undertaken cross-border mergers in order to switch to a domicile abroad and so avoid US taxes.

 

Probable Cancer Cure among Other Benefits of Chinese Herb

 

The science of herbology predates allopathic treatment by several thousand years! After all, patients used to get remission even before modern medicine came into scenario. Here you can check out the proven (but unrecognized officially) health properties of an ancient Chinese herb. Oldest references of using Artemisia annua for various ailments date as far back as 168 BC. It is quite a wonder that you can still buy this extract from an online store.

untitled

Observed benefits

The Chinese name of this extract is Qing Ho. In the West, it is known to druids and pagans as Sweet Wormwood, Annual Mugwort, Sweet Sagewort, or Sweet Annie. Modern research into its composition has shown a remarkable property. Artemisia can supposedly cause apoptosis of cancerous cells selectively. Although this property is not FDA approved, many volunteer users have been using it for internal care, especially for the treatment of colorectal cancer. It does not harm healthy cells, and hence alternative medicine practitioners prescribe it for cancer treatment.

Primary traditional usage of the herb has been mostly for boosting the immune system. It exhibits prominent anti-fungal, anti-fungal effects. Sweet Sagewort has already been proven as a potent treatment for malaria.

Composition and usage

The refined extract includes several active ingredients proven to be highly effective for various treatments. The key element is Artemisinin plus its derivatives such as, Artesunate, Arteether, Artemether, and Dihydroartemisinin. Additional phytochemical compositions are essential oil elements, Chromenes, Flavonoid antioxidants, and Triterpenoids. Artemisinin consists of the organic element lactone which has distinct potential to detoxify malarial infection. Along with its derivatives, ACT has shown to stimulate apoptosis or cell death in tumor tissues. It acts by slowing down metastasis and by releasing destructive free radicals in the presence of the abundant iron molecules of cancer cells.

Furthermore, research indicates that its effects may include restriction of angiogenesis, which refers to the growth of circulatory system. By reducing oxygen flow to cancerous cells, it is possible to slow down metastasis and ultimately cause cell death. However, before you use this promised product, remember to observe its pros and cons. If possible, consult a trusted alternative medicine practitioner in person after you obtain your vial of Sweet Annie. Excess use can cause cellular neurotoxicity, besides primary symptoms such as nausea, headache, and dizziness. Of course, you need to make sure to obtain the product as purest herbal extracts from a reliable online service. Synthetic additives not only dilute its effects, but can also display extended side effects.

Dosage info

In case you are mulling the probability of using its benefits for the treatment of colorectal cancer, here is some traditional dosage info. According to Chinese Pharmacoepia, the daily usage for acute patients should not exceed 4 to 9 gms, used as a tea infusion. The benefits of herbs have been so undeniably conspicuous that medical science could not help but allow it, if not reluctantly. The super debated medical marijuana issue is a good example. Despite the raging controversies, as of 2016, 26 states in US legally provide medical marijuana besides two states allowing recreational use.

Facebook Open Sources Its Object Recognition Machine Vision Software

Facebook Open Sources Its Object Recognition Machine Vision Software

Facebook has decided to make its set of vision software tools, used for object recognition in images, available to everyone by open sourcing the project. The set of tools, DeepMask, SharpMask, and MultiPathNet, were developed by the Facebook AI Research team and essentially work towards a process called segmentation to recognise objects by their shapes in images.

The research team has decided to share their research papers and demos along with the code for the tools with everyone in expectation “that they’ll help rapidly advance the field of machine vision,” it said in its blog on Thursday. The team further said that it will continue to publish its latest results and will update the open source tools we make available to the community.

All three of the research team’s tools work in collaboration in order to distinguish objects and identify their type. In its blog, Facebook AI Research team said that the advancement in visual recognition technology helps visually challenged people in recognising the content of images that have no captions associated with them, without needing external help. The company rolled out this feature to its iPhone app in April.

 

¬†Going ahead, the company says its goal is to “enable even more immersive experiences that allow users to ‘see’ a photo by swiping their finger across an image and having the system describe the content they’re touching,” it said in its blog.

Interestingly, the team is working towards applying these recognition techniques to videos as well.

 

Huawei Flagship Smartphones to Come With Truecaller Preloaded From September

Huawei Flagship Smartphones to Come With Truecaller Preloaded From September

  • Huawei flagship devices to come preloaded with Truecaller
  • Truecaller says app being used to make calls half a billion times a month
  • Truecaller to roll out to Huawei devices in India by September end

Truecaller on Friday announced it has partnered with Huawei. As a part of this collaboration, Huawei’s flagship phones will now come preloaded with the Truecaller app, starting with the Honor 8.

“Truecaller will be rolled out on Huawei mobile phones in America, Middle East & North Africa, South East Asia & India by end of September 2016,” the company said in itsblog on Friday.

Truecaller said the app has optimised to work seamlessly with all the devices it will come preloaded on. Apart from making calls, the app will also let users search for numbers, block spam calls, check availability, and call duration.

The company also highlighted in its blog that four months after the integration of its Truedialer app and its dialler features into the main Truecaller app, around half billion calls are being made per month through the inbuilt dialler in the Truecaller app.

“Our vision of how the dialler should naturally evolve – with features like caller Availability, Caller ID, and smart call history, provide a gateway for user’s to fully communicate with each other at the right time and to the right person,” Truecaller said in the post.

Truecaller rolled out an update last month for iOS that added important features to the app like Smart Call History and a built-in dialler that allowed users to make calls from within the app. However, the iOS app – currently at version 7.0 – still lacks an important functionality, there is still no really Live Caller ID feature identical to the one available on Android.

In an emailed statement, Nami Zarringhalam, co-founder & Chief Strategy Officer at Truecaller, said,”Our partnership with Huawei is a big milestone and is the first of its kind that has only scratched the surface of the immense potential that is yet to be discovered with Truecaller.”

George Zhao, President of Honor, said, “As we were planning the launch of our flagship device Honor 8, we were looking for partners who can truly redefine the user experience, Truecaller was an obvious choice to help improve the native calling functions. They provide an indispensable service for millions of users each day. We are joining hands to ensure that respective brands get the best of both worlds.

 

All about Steroid Injections

All about Steroid Injections

Steroids are those which are produced naturally in the body. There are many naturally produced steroids like testosterone, cortisone and cholesterol. Synthetic steroids are those hormones that produce the same effect of naturally produced steroids. Synthetic steroids are produced in the form of injections, pills and in the form of cream and eye drops.
Untitled

Benefits of Steroids

  • Anabolic steroids help in improving the physical appearance of the individual.
  • The body muscles can be increased by using such steroids.
  • The strength of the body and the endurance can be enhanced.
  • Athletes can improve their sports performance.
  • Anabolic steroids have the anti catabolic characteristic.
  • Steroid helps in reducing the fat.
  • Steroids help in the growth of muscles for the body builders.
  • This helps in the production of the ATP which is considered as a fuel for the growth of the muscles and its movement.
  • Steroid injections usually help in the prevention of the inflammation in the joints. Click hereto know more.

Steps to take care before the purchase of steroid Injections

Before the purchase of the steroids in injection form we should check whether this is legally allowed in our country. Having knowledge about the legality and knowing from where the steroids are available will help us in identifying the trusted suppliers. Athletes should also have knowledge whether the steroids can be used as a performance enhancing drug which may help to take a vital decision for the growth of their career. Also the purchase of steroids should be only from an authenticated supplier .This is because only suppliers of better quality products can help with steroids of good quality. High quality products do not provide any discounts .In such cases we should be aware of this. We should always take care that safety is an important concern for the purchase of steroids.

Why should steroid used for medications

Most of the medical professionals inject the steroids directly into the problematic area. This is because the effect of this medicine is more in using the injection than the oral steroids.

Steroids are used for the treatment of Arthritis, gout and other diseases that cause inflammation. Steroids are usually injected in some areas of inflammation and in the tendons near to the shoulder and the elbow. This can be used also in some other areas like the hip; knee and the wrist .Steroids are usually injected into the body depending on the age of the person, physical activity done and also as per the other medications that are being taken.

Side Effects of Steroid Injections

There are certain side effects that are caused due to the steroid injections. They are

  • Infections caused
  • Allergy caused to some area of the body.
  • Change in the colour of the skin
  • Damage of the liver
  • May increase the risk of strokes and heart attacks
  • This may lead to the development of external sex organs in the body
  • Excessive hair growth

 

Usage of Clen

Clen is found to be more effective when it is used with other mild supplements like Anaver. These are steroids that are used to increase the strength of the muscle and should be careful when used by the pregnant women and those who are planning to be pregnant. If used on such women they are supposed to have serious side effects. The steroid can be more beneficial in increasing the muscle strength and to make a fit body with the addition of Clen along with other human growth hormones.

It is always better that we use the Clen on a rotation. This is because the continuous usage of this may cause serious side effects

Side Effects of Clen

  • Clenbuterol leads to the increase in the blood pressure of the body. The working of heart increases more than the normal level thereby increasing the blood pressure and leading to many cardiac related diseases. If it seems increased rate of blood pressure it is better to avoid its usage.
  • Usage of Clen may sometimes lead to muscle cramps in women. This drug utilises the amino acids in the body and lead to dehydration. Taurine which is the amino acid starts getting depleted by the usage of the Clen .This leads to the cramps in the muscles.
  • Clen lead to the increase in the perspiration level. This is because that it affects the central nervous system of the body. This is the side effect that is usually occurred in all the stimulants. The intensity gets changed as per the hormonal cycles of the women.
  • Sleep problems may cause due to the effect of the Clen. This is caused in many women because of the changes in the hormones. This can be reduced by decreasing the Clen dosage.
  • Clen also cause many psychiatric side effects. Hypomania is reported for people who use this which may cause mood variations. Also it has been reported that many people cause depression due to the withdrawal of this drug.
  • This causes many kinds of neurological issues. Clen gets absorbed to the body and this condition stays for some days. The problems get increased in those people who possess the history of cardio vascular problems and kidney problems. Severity of the cardiovascular problems may cause death of the person.
  • Flulike symptoms are also found to be seen in people who consume the Clen. Many symptoms like dizziness and nausea are seen in people consuming this drug.
  • The muscle cells of the heart get increased with the increased amount of collagen that is occurred due of the usage of Clen. Collagen decreases the pumping of the blood and thereby decreases the output. The interference of the collagen with the electric signals makes the pumping continuous and thereby increases the risk of causing stroke.
  • The cells of the heart get degenerated.
  • The mechanical properties and the micro architecture of the bone negatively affect the bone thereby lead to the bone fragility. This may also increase the risk of causing fractures in the bone.

All these side effects are caused due to the over dosage of the Clen.

3 Helpful Tips When Purchasing Surplus Electronic Components

Electronic items these days, become obsolete in very short durations as the manufacturers of these products keep coming out with better alternatives very frequently. In such a scenario, making a purchase of electronic components can be a tricky business as one has to be careful regarding the surplus inventory he is going to purchase for his electronics needs.

A detailed research on the products to be bought becomes a must in such cases. A proper inspection of the specifications of the product should be carried out before making any purchase. If possible, a comparison with similar available products should also be done online in order to make an informed decision.Once you have narrowed it down to one or two choices, next step is to look for warranty period. It is a must as the product you are going to purchase is going to be a part of your surplus and thus may require a gestation period before it is used.

Warranties are offered by manufacturers as well as vendors, however the terms and details of these often differ from one another. In such a situation, it becomes imperative to clearly get the details clarified from the seller before committing any purchase.You should also spend some time researching the seller and his reputation in the area. The credibility of the seller adds to the confidence of the buyer.

More often, the sellers are easily accessible till the sale is made and after that they disappear. After sales services is an important part of any transaction and make sure you get a good idea about the same from various online and offline sources. It can be done by going through the reviews available about your seller online or you can talk to some of its previous customers about their experiences in dealing with the seller.

Above points make purchasing electronic surplus items seem like a mammoth task. It is here that Diverse Electronics comes to your rescue. Founded in 1993, Diverse Electronics offers superior service on leading-edge technology through its design-in programs that are supplementedby its experienced and dedicated Marketing team. Diverse Electronics is headquartered in Montreal but has a presence all over Canada, including Toronto, Quebec, Calgary and Eastern Canada. Known to provide unparalleled service to all its customers, irrespective of their size, Diverse Electronics is committed to providing quality, personalized service through solid industry knowledge, innovation, and customized programs. The company deals in Electronic components, production tools and equipment and industrial electronic products. With such a diverse portfolio and long history of customer service, Diverse Electronics is surely a one-stop solution for all your electronic needs.