MIND BLOWN | Adobe Reveals Speech Synthesis Technology

It may be quite hard to trust the authenticity of any recorded speech in the not too distant future.


Adobe revealed what they’re calling Photoshop for the human voice. The project is currently in development as part of a collaboration between members of Adobe Research and Princeton University (published research). Like Photoshop, Project VoCo is designed to be a state-of-the-art audio editing application.

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This user interface belies an incredibly powerful speech manipulation engine. Not only can you edit dialogue by changing text, you can actually generate words that didn’t exist in the original recording.

In 2014, Andy Moorer shared his Visual Speech Editor project, which laid some of the groundwork for Project VoCo.

Adobe Audition has been featuring synthesized speech technology in the Generate Speech function since last year, which enables any TTS-compatible voice installed and licensed on the system to be used for generating speech directly in the waveform and multitrack environments.

Project VoCo builds on these concepts to provide what could be an incredible dialogue editing tool, which has really caught the attention of a lot of the industry, for a variety of reasons.

The demo presented at the Adobe Max Conference generated new words using a speaker’s recorded voice alone. Essentially, the software can understand the makeup of a person’s voice and replicate it, Photoshop ushered in a new era of editing and image creation… this tool will transform how audio engineers work with sound, polish clips, and clean up recordings and podcasts.

WATCH THE AMAZING DEMO of ADOBE PROJECT VOCO BELOW

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Don’t Talk Too Long

Project Voco can’t just generate convincing dialogue out of thin air – it needs around 20 minutes of the subject talking, in order to form some kind of “voice print”. This all sounds very 60’s science fiction I know, but it’s absolutely incredible, as this video from Adobe MAX (Sneak Peeks) shows –

Google’s DeepMind division showed off a rival voice-mimicking system called WaveNet via their website. While not nearly as amazing… it’s a close second as of now.

Fraud Potential

Obviously technology of this power could actually be very dangerous in the wrong hands. As Jordan Peele says in the video, just as they are working very hard making it sound perfect, they’re also working equally as hard to try and make it detectable, through some form of watermarking.

This factor has caused Adobe to release the following statement –

Project Voco gave us a first forward looking look at technologies from Adobe’s research labs… and may or may not be released as a product or product feature. No ship date has been announced.

I’m blown away by this leap in research, but we’ll probably have to wait a while before I’m writing any hands-on reviews!

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Facebook Drone Crash Under NTSB Investigation

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Aquila, Facebook’s ambitious drone that could bring high-speed internet to remote parts of the world, is being investigated by a government agency for an accident that took place during a test flight in June.

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The social media giant downplayed this “structural failure” in the aftermath of the initial test, and did not disclose that they were being investigated.facebook-has-said-internet-speeds-from-its-aquila-drone-will-be-similar-to-what-youd-find-over-fib-png

Bloomberg reports that the National Transportation Safety Board has been engaged in a previously undisclosed investigation into the accident, which took place as the done was landing on the morning of June 28.

The unmanned drone, which has a wingspan wider than a Boeing Co. 737, suffered a “structural failure” as it was coming in for a landing after an otherwise successful test. The NTSB as classified the incident as an accident, which means the damage was “substantial,” according to Bloomberg. There were no injuries on the ground.

 

Neither Facebook nor the NTSB have released further details about the accident.

With the exception of half a sentence in the eighth paragraph of a post on Facebook’s engineering blog in July, the company didn’t address this failure. Mark Zuckerberg was exclusively positive when he wrote about the test on his blog in July. Facebook didn’t disclose the NTSB investigation, nor did anyone at the company mention the extent of the damage in multiple interviews, according to The Verge.

Aquila certainly seems like a noble endeavor, and it’s understandable (if more than a little shady) that Facebook would want to focus on the positive aspects of the test rather than a crash landing. But, as we’re learning, you can’t always believe what you read on Facebook.

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Apple Warn: Gov Chilling Demands

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Apple is standing up for & defending the rights of Americans.

An unprecedented  demand has been squarely refused by Apple.

If you’ve ever used a mobile device or an iPhone more specifically you should be aware the U.S. Government via the FBI is sending a clear message about everything we thought was private, on our iPhones, in the cloud or for our eyes or ears  only.

“We have great respect for the professionals at the FBI, and we believe their intentions are good. Up to this point, we have done everything that is both within our power and within the law to help them,” Cook wrote in a letter published on Apple’s website.

Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden has backed Apple’s refusal to comply with a federal court order to help the FBI unlock an iPhone used by one of the assailants in the mass shootings in San Bernardino, Calif. in December.

“But now the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone.”

Snowden called on Internet giant Google to stand with Apple, saying, “this is the most important tech case in a decade.”

Apple and Google engineered their software so they cannot unlock devices in the wake of damaging revelations by Snowden that made the world suspicious they created “back doors” for American intelligence and law enforcement.
The fear: Unlocking the iPhone could hand law enforcement a master encryption key. The FBI hasn’t been able to access the smartphone because it is passcode-protected.
“The technical changes the @FBI demands would make it possible to break into an iPhone (5C or older) in a half hour,” Snowden tweeted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Google Serves Up Menus

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Eighty percent of consumers report wanting to check out a menu before selecting a dining destination. This may explain Google started displaying complete restaurant menus with search results when a given query specifically seeks menu details.

Research also shows less than half of independent restaurants have websites of which only 40 percent show their menu online.  Perhaps the tech-giant will soon decide to dabble in booking reservations too?  |  Learn More

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Future-Sci-Fi Fantasy | AT&T Mobility Innovates

AT&T Mobility’s Recently Uncovered Patent Filing Delivers Technology Beyond Your Wildest Imagination

AT&T, the former market-leader in exclusive contracts with Apple, has yet to officially announce  next big thing, but recently uncovered US Patent  20140010082, filed September 2013 outlines the future of mobile technology throught the eyes of AT&T.

Their next blazing fast network will feature a system allowing the wireless carrier to charge subscribers more money for using file sharing, video, music & more intensive bandwidth services, arbitrarily.

The patent outlines how the future system operates with an additional credit system, whereby users erode their credit total by using select types of content & services. The novel idea granted a patent by the USPTO is entitled, Prevention Of Bandwidth Abuse Of A Communications System.

“The user is provided an initial number of credits. As the user consumes the credits, the data being downloaded is checked to determine if is permissible or non-permissible… prevented from consuming an excessive amount of channel bandwidth by restricting use of the channel in accordance with the type of data being downloaded to the user,” this fresh pile of patents is steaming with possibility.

Thus, if traffic cops use speed traps to issue speeding tickets & generate local government revenue in the name of safety – it stands to reason AT&T’s brightest would conjure up, and patent Bandwidth Abuse Prevention Tech! Truth be told, AT&T doesn’t know the meaning of the word abuse. Who recalls the pre-smartphone bill-pay years? After all AT&T was mistreated… waiting on hold to pay me all those months, years.  

THe additional cost will apply for any/all content or service AT&T deems “non-permissible.” “Various restriction policies also can be applied, such as levying additional fees and/or terminating the user’s access to the channel” should they exceed their credit allotment or try to use content not authorized by AT&T under their current plan.

AT&T has patented a plethora of ideas & simply let the ideas sit. For years AT&T pushed and nearly launched the controversial feature sponsored data. Remember when heavy-iPhone users, new-not-dumb, discovered AT&T had been throttling data connection speeds in direct breech of advertised & contracted transfer speeds? Billing & hardware companies pined for confining, Corporatization of otherwise freewheeling web-based systems, simply hoping to cash in on consumers caught of guard or unaware.

Essentially, the play AT&T is hoping to run amounts to implementing a fee based system… a toll or tax, levied upon the once free YouTube videos, iTunes music downloads you’ve already paid for once. This move is aimed at further monetizing AT&T’s network while it continues waning in popularity among net-neutrality advocates.

Even more disturbing, AT&T is self-declaring a role to itself… both dictating “acceptable” Internet use, while imposing an entirely additional pricing layer. It comes as no surprise the former ring-masters long for the days where they called the shots of the big-show. Fortunately, technology advanced, adoption & competition went up & the big-top of big bucks & good times came to a close for AT&T, for all the telephone/telecommunications corporations.

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It seems likely (if ever actually implemented) this system would be layered over the top of  existing cap & overage bandwidth pricing models. Ignorance? Someone is missing something… somewhere.

Neutrality rules & protection the open-web remains less-than-boldly-backed. So, regulators are happy to approve such creative pricing initiatives. The new head of the USPTO is the former lead legal counsel for Google, Michelle Lee. So, it stands to reason she’s totally unbiased. Right? With the typical actors in place & the old guard clinging to profit & power positions… familiar mechanism come back into play (Queue the lobbyist, campaign contribution & political smarm).

There’s really nothing (other than consumer complaints and bad press, neither of which are guaranteed to keep a crazed animal, passed its’ prime… from attacking. Rest assured when it does, the social media soccer mom, the high school video blogger, the casually addicted mobile gamer or download addicted masses will cry out. Will it be loud enough or too late to scare AT&T or Verizon away from such a bad idea?

|   Find No Mention of This Future on AT&Ts CES 2014 Innovation SirQillJay 

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Google Contact Lens | Ten Days Later

Google is becoming known for chasing after the innovations of more forward-thinking-tech-mavens. 

Image Credit: Google, Inc.

Ten days ago we here at L@FB told you about iOptik. Apparently, mentioning Google in your press release gets your tech-startup squashed. Speaking from experience, a member of our editorial team (who shall go unnamed) mentioned Google trying to kill the password in a press release for his startups’ new smart wearable authentication device. Then Google decided to rename an unrelated open-source project (WebKit) by the exact same name, BLINKGo figure.

Google has seemingly done it again. Well, almost. iOptik announced a contact lens based display system and ten days later… suddenly, Google has one too.  Is this simply an aggressive business strategy or perhaps anti-competitive business maneuvers? What’s the difference? In the Google introduction they openly state they haven’t even started yet… “we thought this project was worth a shot.”

“Hey, Google – Two times is a coincidence… three times is a trend.”

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Frmr Google Exec Takes Over USPTO

United States Patent & Trademark Office may officially be toast.

The outgunned and out-numbered office responsible for referring the ever growing technology-wars has even closer ties to private industry than before. Google in fact.

The more progressive patent attitudes that dominate Silicon Valley are getting a welcoming new home as former Google corporate attorney Michelle Lee takes over as the new deputy director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Reuters reports.

DOUBLE DUTY  |  ULTIMATE CONTROL  |  Lee will also serve as acting director until a new director is appointed, filling in for former IBM executive David Kappos, who stepped down from the USPTO in February.Lee has been director of a USPTO satellite office since November 2012, according to Ars Technica. She left Google in June 2012.

THe USPTO is currently slogging through the backlog of over 590,070 unexamined patents, and improving overall patent quality, according to Reuters. Granted, Lee will have access to any and all patents and trademarks, even those that do not pass the multi-year cluster that is the entire process.

USPTO Trial & Appeal Boards Public Search Dungeon

USPTO Trial & Appeals Board Public Search Dungeon

Google has been one of the industry’s most vocal companies in calling for patent reform, aiming to eliminate so-called patent trolls, outfits set on making money from patent litigation. But it’s worth remembering that tech companies tend to grow more litigious with age.

For example, Microsoft had filed only four patent suits in its entire history before 2010, but that year, the company sued Salesforce.com for patent infringement and began filing complaints against Android handset manufacturers such as Motorola. Microsoft has joined a consortium along with Apple and Blackberry that has filed another suit against Google.

Regardless, Lee says Google won’t affect her decisions. “None of the policy positions of my former employers has guided my work,” she told Reuters. “I certainly would be very welcoming of everybody’s input.”

Since Lee is someone who has faced patent trolls & become a trademark troll in the process… she may not know how to operate at the helm of the USPTO, without being evil.

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