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Image: Audio Analytic

Smartphones for several years now have had the ability to listen non-stop for wake words, like “Hey Siri” and “OK Google,” without excessive battery usage. These wake-up systems run in special, low-power processors embedded within a phone’s larger chip set. They rely on algorithms trained on a neural network to recognize a broad spectrum of voices, accents, and speech patterns. But they only recognize their wake words; more generalized speech recognition algorithms require the involvement of a phone’s more powerful processors.

Today, Qualcomm announced that Snapdragon 8885G, its latest chipset for mobile devices, will be incorporating an extra piece of software in that bit of semiconductor real estate that houses the wake word recognition engine. Created by Cambridge, U.K. startup Audio Analytic, the ai3-nano will use the Snapdragon’s low-power AI processor to listen for sounds beyond speech. Depending on the applications made available by smartphone manufacturers, the phones will be able to react to such sounds as a doorbell, water boiling, a baby’s cry, and fingers tapping on a keyboard—a library of some 50 sounds that is expected to grow to 150 to 200 in the near future.

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Researchers at Stevens Institute of Technology are leveraging some of the newest mechanical and robotic technologies to help some of our oldest populations stay healthy, active, and independent.

Yi Guo, professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of the Robotics and Automation Laboratory, and Damiano Zanotto, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, and director of the Wearable Robotic Systems Laboratory, are collaborating with Ashley Lytle, assistant professor in Stevens’ College of Arts and Letters, and Ashwini K. Rao of Columbia University Medical Center, to combine an assistive mobile robot companion with wearable in-shoe sensors in a system designed to help elderly individuals maintain the balance and motion they need to thrive.

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