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AI

Google is taking sign-ups for Relate, a voice assistant that recognizes impaired speech

Google launched a beta app today that people with speech impairments can use as a voice assistant while contributing to a multiyear research effort to improve Google’s speech recognition. The goal is to make Google Assistant, as well as other features that use speech to text and speech to speech, more inclusive of users with neurological conditions that affect their speech.

The new app is called Project Relate, and volunteers can sign up at g.co/ProjectRelate. To be eligible to participate, volunteers need to be 18 or older and “have difficulty being understood by others.” They’ll also need a Google account and an Android phone using OS 8 or later. For now, it’s only available to English speakers in the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. They’ll be tasked with recording 500 phrases, which should take between 30 to 90 minutes to record.

After sharing their voice samples, volunteers will get access to three new features on the Relate App. It can transcribe their speech in real time. It also has a feature called “Repeat” that will restate what the user said in “a clear, synthesized voice.” That can help people with speech impairments when having conversations or when using voice commands for home assistant devices. The Relate App also connects to Google Assistant to help users turn on the lights or play a song with their voices.

Without enough training data, other Google apps like Translate and Assistant haven’t been very accessible for people with conditions like ALS, traumatic brain injury (TBI), or Parkinson’s disease. In 2019, Google started Project Euphonia, a broad effort to improve its AI algorithms by collecting data from people with impaired speech. Google is also training its algorithms to recognize sounds and gestures so that it can better help people who cannot speak. That work is still ongoing; Google and its partners still appear to be collecting patients’ voices separately for Project Euphonia.

“I’m used to the look on people’s faces when they can’t understand what I’ve said,” Aubrie Lee, a brand manager at Google whose speech is affected by muscular dystrophy, said in a blog post today. “Project Relate can make the difference between a look of confusion and a friendly laugh of recognition.”

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Categories
Game

PS5 system software beta signups now live: How to register

Today, Sony announced that it’s working on a major system software update for the PlayStation 5 and put out a call for testers. If you’re one of the lucky few who own a PlayStation 5 at the moment – the console is still notoriously difficult to find around the world – you can sign up to beta test this new system software update and all future updates as well. Even better is the fact that the process of signing up is pretty straightforward.

If you have a PlayStation 5 in your possession (and it’s connected to the internet), you can sign up for the PS5’s first system software beta program by heading over to the PlayStation website. Click on the “Register Now” button you see at the top of the page, sign in with your PlayStation Network ID, then agree to the sign-in terms, and you’ll be placed in the pool of potential beta testers.

Sony says that it will email those selected for the beta process with more details on how to download unreleased system software but doesn’t indicate when those emails will go out, so you’ll want to keep an eye on your inbox if you decide to register. Registration is open to those who are 18 or older in the US, Canada, Japan, the UK, France, and Germany, but those who sign up also need to have an active PSN account in good standing to be considered.

Sony also expects its chosen testers to give feedback on these beta software releases, and of course, this program comes with the warning that unreleased software might be buggy or incomplete. Registering puts you in the pool of potential applicants for future system software tests as well, so you won’t need to register every time a new beta is announced.

Unfortunately, Sony’s announcement today doesn’t tell us what will be included in this major system update, nor does it tell us when the update is expected to be live for everyone. The hope is that the next system software update will unlock the PlayStation 5’s M.2 expansion slot, which has been inactive since the console launched. Indeed, rumors have claimed that support for the expansion slot will be coming this summer, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed for official word that it’ll be included in the next PS5 system update.

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