Follow on from Yesterday’s talking speaker post :0(

My apologize for yesterday’s post, the table which looked perfect in my pre-publication and draft publications looks like crap now that it is published. The easy button answer to yesterday’s high-level initial testing is included below (adding in a couple of other voice recognition players):

Siri – best for interacting with an iPhone or iPad. Siri struggles with complex operations. Siri does well with media. Siri is integrated with other IoT and technologies. Siri is the worst performer when it comes to ambient noise.

Cortana – On a Windows 10 device, Invoke speaker or iPhone handles complex questions well. Cortana does understand and respond well and correctly regardless of noise (within reason). Overall Cortana performs better on the iPad and iPhone than Siri. Its limitation is it can’t do all the things Siri Can.

Amazon Echo – the most integrated device in the space and the list of integrations is growing. The overall impact of the integration is significant. Does struggle with complete data questions and overall doesn’t do as well with Ambient noise as Cortana does.

Google Home – integrated within the Google space very well. Is also, like the other three adding devices it can talk too rapidly. Does, as well as Cortana in the Ambient noise world, does exceptionally well with complex questions. Google Home integrates well with Google Play.

Jibo – bar none the cutest. Better at Jokes than the other speakers are. Jibo struggles with Ambient noise a bit.  Doesn’t have integration today and struggles with complex questions.

My list is expanding! Sorry about-about the table formatting. The clear winners are detailed below by what category you are looking to add a home interaction device to your life for.

  1. Overall integration – Amazon Echo
  2. Overall voice recognition – Microsoft Cortana
  3. Overall cute – Jibo



Part one of the smart speaker shoot out!

I’ve spent the last three days testing and evaluating the three initial home interaction speakers. The Harmon Kardon Invoke is featuring Cortana, the Amazon Echo featuring Alexa and Google Home featuring OK Google. I mentioned in my first post about these products that all three are nice looking overall. They don’t clash horribly with their environment. My initial testing was quite simple, and I decided since it has the same capabilities (other than playing music today) to add in Jibo. So the initial four products were put through some paces.

Products Jibo, HK Invoke, Amazon Echo, Google Home

Question 1: How many days until Christmas

Jibo Unable to answer

Other three answered correctly

Question 2: Play music from the 1970’s

Jibo, can’t play music now

Other three no problem

Question 3: much water in the Atlantic Ocean

Jibo unable to answer

Google Home and Cortana 14 quadrillion gallons

Alexa unable to answer.

Question 4: How many miles from where I am to Bloomington Indiana

Jibo, Cortana and Google 601 miles

Alexa 487 miles

The interesting reality of some of the questions is that Alexa doesn’t have the same access to either Bing or Google search so that integration doesn’t produce information as effectively. Echo though is connected to many more devices. Today, Google has roughly four integrated devices, and that number is growing. Amazon has many more integrated devices today, and the number is growing. The interesting connection coming soon is that Alexa and Cortana will work together (echo and invoke).

I will continue to play with the speakers and come up with some additional data. Overall Cortana has the best recognition; I haven’t had to repeat a question once. Alexa right now has the most integration, and Google connects easily to devices it knows about. As the devices of the internet continue to expand into our homes (connected devices), I am curious as to how many of those devices will include integration with one of the three. Google Home announced that the Canary Cameras can connect with Google now. Amazon Alexa has integration with Hue Lighting and others. More testing results to come, this is blast one!


yes, I know I am a geek

Why couldn’t we build a chain that would force news to be real?

One of the things that I have considered in the past couple of months is the implication and impact of Blockchain. Not Bitcoin, I am still uncomfortable with the cryptocurrency impact as of now, that may change, but for now I am more curious than convinced. Blockchain, on the other hand, represents a very different and quite interesting reality. Blockchain gives two parties (or more) the ability to have a secure, unhackable payment chain. It also removes the reality of double entry in the financial world.  Double entry is where I pay you money, but for a period that money remains in my account, a double entry.

Blockchain, in theory, is unhackable, in that a hacker attacking the chain at any one of the disturbed points would alter the chain and notify all subsequent members that the chain had been hacked. Blockchain supports the concept of a digital contract between two parties that is secured. Now, the only way a hacker can corrupt a chain now is to create a fake or false digital contract. But that remains in the realm of if someone offers you money for no reason shame on your if you click the link.

Today there are a few Blockchain providers in the wild and some companies heading down the path. What interests me is not what is the art of the possible, but in fact what could be used tomorrow. I would love, based on the current environment in the US, to have a Blockchain system for news. A multi-node Blockchain for news that would reduce the amount of churn and news that isn’t really in the wild. Could you imagine a press conference where the answers to questions are submitted to the Blockchain and then could be rejected if they are false? That would reduce the churn of the news cycle significantly. Vice versa on articles written for news and television broadcasters as well as interest sites would be phenomenal.

Tomorrow we could leverage a Blockchain for public information. We could leverage a Blockchain for personal information security. The ability, capability and impact of what Blockchain could be and will be lies ahead of us, but it is interesting to think about now.


just wondering…

The HK Invoke arrives…

This fall has some interesting technology releases. First off there are the new additions to the Alexa family and the Google Home family. We have both Google home (in my wife’s office) and Amazon Echo’s (a total of four throughout the house). Plus, this fall also brings us the Harmon Kardon Invoke featuring Cortana. I did a shootout between an Android Tablet (the Samsung Note) and the iOS tablet (iPad) running the two primary native voice command systems (Google and Siri). I found that overall Cortana on non-native hardware was a better solution overall than the other two.

Now the new and big test. Over the next couple of weeks, I am going to use the three with their native speakers. There has to be a better way to say that than using the broader native speakers. What I mean is that I will test each of them with the overall hardware combination that they, the company releasing the voice command system, recommends. I am going to do this testing in my house, so I am not riding on the Metro shouting Hey Cortana or Hey Siri. Plus the Amazon Alexa and Google Home systems are stationary speakers. The new HK Invoke is also a stationary speaker. I also have an Apple TV that includes Siri but doesn’t plan on pushing Siri’s “buttons” anymore. Siri is ok but remains not as good as the other three to date.

The initial test is look and feel. Let’s talk about the look of the three primarily available (there is a rumored soon to be on the market Apple Siri Speaker, but it is not available currently). All three have a similar experience. The Google Home speaker is wider at the base than the top. It has a two-tone finish. The HK Invoke (Cortana) and the Amazon Echo (Alexa) are both cylinders and single color. Overall I would say all three are appealing. I am not embarrassed nor do I hide any of the three. Test one, appearance so far all three look good!



Are those the tears of a robot?

A robot took my job. Well, it wasn’t a robot, it was an AI with long robotic arms and machine learning. The machine learning was utilized to watch the posts on my blog and send comments to the AI. The AI responded to the questions and carried on conversations with people as if it were me. Oh yeah, all of that done quickly and in a manner, I could never hope to achieve. So, I stopped blogging, stopped working and now I sip Pina Colada’s on a beach in South America. By the way the robot, AI, Machine Learning construct is also friendlier than I am. It doesn’t make snarky comments about well snarky comments on my blog.

I do understand that tongue in cheek isn’t always the answer. I do understand that there are legitimate fears by some professions and people that their jobs are at risk. I am not belittling or making fun of those fears. I am simply painting a broad brush picture of the issue. We have to be able to laugh at some of the problems we have in front of us. A wise man once said we have nothing to fear but fear. (FDR). He was speaking at a dark time in human history where we were sure we would be around as a species much longer.

Reality is we don’t have to fear the robot uprising or the eventual replacement of humans by robots. It may happen, but the reality of that is, what are the initial jobs robots will replace? The jobs where a human error causes the most impact. Jobs where a mistake by a human can cost another human their life or create a really bad situation. Those are the jobs we need to consider as the first to be replaced by Robots. The value of the replacement is the human is still needed to watch and verify, but they no longer have to spend hours doing the job. Now they supervise the job. Effectively we move humans up the stack, and robots take over menial work.

Other than my blog, which needs a robot writing!


Technology dreamer

Seven days journey in search of a topic for my technology blog…

While in Norway last year we bought some trolls for the house. One sits upstairs, on on the mantle in the living room and the last one lives either on the boat or in my office (captain lars). He is in the home office right now so that he doesn’t get cold and freeze. It isn’t that I need a mascot in my office although I do have a 3d printed dragon. Plus there are the wall stickers of the Minions from Despicable me on the walls. Why bring all this up? Well, the reality of an everyday blog is that you, from time to time, do run out of topics. For this, my technology blog, today is one of those not having a topic days.

They can’t all be gems.

I can say over the years that there are a few times I’ve dived into my pet topics. I exhausted one of those over the past couple of weeks, so that is out for the short run. I would wander the broader topic of ROV’s, aerial, land or water but that is a topic that I am mostly waiting for devices in. I have three devices pending (2 underwater ROV and the Aguadrone). I find myself not wanting to over hype things that haven’t shipped yet, but well it is hard not to.

That limits my technology posts at times.

Now if we start talking about technology that enables working, or empowers you to get things done, there are many of those available. I have the Touchjet pond projector and the JBL Charge 3 speakers in my bag, you never know when a meeting may break out, and you need to share something. It got me thinking about what is in my laptop bag (I no longer carry a should bag, I have a rolling bag to reduce wear and tear on me). How many people carry a portable speaker and a portable projector with them to the office? Fewer people I suspect that I would like to admit. I don’t carry a whole lot more than those items though. I have reduced the bag weight considerably.

I still have a great idea for an improved bag that I have offered to a couple of companies but no takers so far. I guess it might be time to figure out how I can build it myself and offer it on Kickstarter.



Of podcasts and fun tech

I finally managed to get my October Podcasts done yesterday. Not sure why it took so long this month. I also posted the 360 video from the new Giroptic add-on camera on my YouTube Channel (which is mostly me posting time-lapse images of yesterday’s weather.) The link to my podcast home page is here. I have a few Fred and Ed stories on my podcast, that is the only place you can find them as I have never actually written them down on paper. Not sure why just never got around to writing the Fred and Ed saga.

I’ve been playing a lot with the early release Jibo home interaction robot. I know that isn’t the advertising name, but it is more descriptive of Jibo. Jibo interacted with people based on the environment and based on knowing them. You teach Jibo your face and voice so that he/she or it can respond to you. So far in the past three weeks, we’ve had four different updates as Jibo adds more and more skills. There is something about the sense of humor of the creators that bleeds through as well, in particular when you ask Jibo to tell you a joke. Most of the jokes Jibo tells are anti-jokes and a lot of fun!

One of the companies I’ve been backing (Crowdfunding) for now two projects is Seraphim. The first project they did was a laser mouse. It works well with my laptop. The new project that just started shipping is their laser keyboard. They went one step further than just a keyboard though; they included a typing keyboard and a piano keyboard. The piano keyboard works well with Garage band on my iPhone and iPad. The typing keyboard is nice when you need to type out a longer message on your iPhone. The software is really easy to use as well! I have to say it is fun to have a piano keyboard in both my home and work office!


ok I am a geek

Is the rise of smartwatches bringing back the wristwatch?

I won’t bore you with the long saga of why I wear a watch. I started many years ago because my grandfather gave me a watch. He always wore one, and well I wanted to be like him, so I started wearing one. I moved into the smartwatch world with a variety of GPS watches from Sunnto and Casio. I was looking for information and moved further towards smartwatches with the original Spot Watches. Spot watches connected to an FM signal that broadcast information globally to the watch.

The rise of Pebble, I was one of the very first backers of the very first Pebble was the original market shift in Smartwatches. The goal of Pebble was to create a connection between you the user and your smartphone. Making, the initial smartwatch. Samsung released its Gear Watch before the first Pebble shipped, but because of delays in Pebble’s delivery not because Samsung was the first smartwatch discussed. Pebble was the original smartwatch. I still have my original Kickstarter branded Pebble. It has a huge scratch on it, which is why I didn’t sell it. I fell while wearing the watch and scraped the surface of it, but I kept it anyway because it has Kickstarter printed on it.

I’ve moved to the Apple Watch family since right before the fall of Pebble (they are now part of Fitbit, but Pebble watches are no more). Frankly, with the newest Apple Watch, there are so many points of integration and value I am amazed at what I can do. It is cool to be like Dick Tracey and talk to my wrist. I am looking forward to the soon shipping CMRA that allows your watch to be a camera and a video/video chat device. Now, will smartwatches bring back the wristwatch? The wristwatch has been declining in overall numbers since the cellular phone explosion. Will smartwatches bring back the wristwatch?


watch lover

Cool Tech wander in 360 degrees

There are some things I have loved doing for many years. I used to be the add-on king of the pocket pc world. I loved my PPC and had sleeves that added value and abilities to the device making it more fun, effective and producing more information for me.

Since moving to the phone, I think I have gotten worse. Recently I backed a company Giroptic via Crowdfunding, and they delivered a 360-degree camera. It is not the best camera overall, but you do crowdfunding to back concepts and ideas. The second camera that they have delivered, now available on their store is beyond amazing.

It plugs into the USB C or the lightning port of your phone (USB C or USB if you have an Android Phone, Lightening if you have an iPhone) and gives you a 360-degree image of the world around you. I am going to post more 360 videos on Facebook – lots of cool options for sharing! I am uploading a view from my office to YouTube as well.

The first step towards AR/VR content is getting more and more 360-degree video into the wild. AR/VR producers need content to consume for the production of the AR/VR content.

Now, it is also quite cool. I’ve included a link to my initial playing (in my messy office) with the new Giroptic add-on. I suspect like the FLIR infrared add-on that the stand-alone cameras will provide better imaging (Bubl does already) but regarding the sheer usefulness, this is something I have with me (iPhone) and just need to remember to stick the camera in my pocket.

The future of things 360 is one I find incredibly interesting right now. As I said, earlier the reality of AR/VR is that they need content and 360 cameras and generate content quickly. The other side of having an attachment like that is the ability to see all around you with both images and video. The era of more than the eye can see now upon us!


cool tech wanderer

In search of a new headset…

Over the last ten years, I have had some headsets. Initially, the headsets I had were noise canceling first, and quality was also important. I had Bose noise-canceling headsets for travel that were well worn. The evolution of headsets is amazing. Now there are headsets that include video screens. There are still noise canceling of course, but the new ones integrate noise canceling and the ability to make VOIP calls.

In that world, I prefer the Jabra headsets. For VOIP I’ve gone with the USB connected Jabra Evolve 80. I have a wireless headset for my cellular phone, but frankly, I use it once a month or less. While it is small and easy to use, it just doesn’t help. The noise canceling Jabra headsets are nice. I have looked at their wireless headsets as well as a potential addition to my cell phone. There are days when I wander around the nearby pond while on calls just to be moving while listening, so the new Evolve wireless headsets are interesting.

That said I am curious as to what other people think about headsets. The small Bluetooth connected headsets don’t work for me. I prefer the type that covers both ears. In part because you get better noise management with those than with one ear uncovered. What do other people think?

I am going to get a new headset for my iPhone. I promise to read all comments, and I will do a review of whatever headset I end up buying.

Author’s Note: One of the things that drives me nuts is extra noise during conference calls. I use my car phone when in the car, when walking, outside or talking in the office I don’t want to hear all the people around me. I ended up choosing the Jabra Evolve 75 as my headset for my cell phone.