IoT weekly round-up: Thursday 5th October 2017

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This week, the announcements came thick and fast from Google and Amazon. Google Clips and a talking fish that can connect to Alexa make headlines, Snap is launching an augmented reality art platform, and at IBM we’ve been busy at the Genius of Things event in Boston. Read on for the latest news from the connected world.

Google’s latest announced tech includes machine learning wearable camera

At a conference in San Francisco yesterday, Google let loose a flurry of announcements covering everything from smart, wearable cameras to new phones. Of the smart devices, first up is the Google Mini – it’s got all the know-how of the Google Home, but crammed into much smaller packaging. At the other end of the spectrum is the Google Max, retailing in December at $399 and designed to rival Apple’s HomePod. There’s a new Daydream VR headset (Daydream View), and perhaps most interesting of all, Google Clips: a machine learning device that clips onto your clothing / bag / bike (delete as appropriate) and automatically snaps ‘interesting’ photos as you go about your day.

Snap launches augmented reality art platform

Snap announced a plan for an augmented reality art platform in partnership with pop artist Jeff Koons. Koons’ famous balloon animals and large-scale installations will be recreated as digital art installations that can be viewed via smartphone at particular locations. This follows Snap’s Word Lens feature, introduced earlier this year, which lets users drop 3D digital objects (most famously, a dancing hot dog) into their surroundings and take a picture.

Edible sensor measures temperature of food in transit

Swiss researcher Giovanni Salvatore and his team have successfully built a biodegradable, edible temperature sensor, designed to safely and remotely monitor the temperature of fresh food in transit. To prevent spoilage, the sensor triggers alerts if food reaches an unsafe temperature, and better still, it doesn’t need to be removed once the food reaches your plate. You can actually eat it and probably won’t even notice it’s there. It’s even good for you – the ultra-thin sensor is just 16 micrometers thick and made of magnesium – an important component of a healthy diet, apparently.

Amazon announce lots of new Echo devices – and a talking fish

Google aren’t the only ones to bundle their announcements this week. Amazon have a few of their own: a new $99 Echo and the $149 Echo Plus – a dedicated smart home hub backed by a plethora of partners and packing a Philips Hue smart bulb. Weirdly, there’s also a talking fish – Big Mouth Billy Bass will soon be able to connect to Alexa, respond to commands and mouth along to your favourite tunes.

New technology takes Alexa off the coffee table

UK firm XMOS has released an Amazon Alexa Voice Service (AVS) development kit that will help Alexa differentiate between background noise, which can be ignored, and commands from a human voice, which need to be actioned. Rather than having Alexa displayed prominently on your coffee table, this technology will mean you can put Alexa discretely out of sight (just like a good house elf) without your commands becoming inaudible.

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