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Amazon considered letting Alexa listen to you without a wake word

Amazon considered letting Alexa listen to you without a wake word

A patent made public today and filed by Amazon would allow the company's voice assistant Alexa to start recording audio before users say a "wake word." According to the patent, it would allow users to more naturally communicate with their devices, saying phrases like "Play some music, Alexa" rather than starting each command with "Alexa" or another chosen wake word. Currently, the voice assistant is unable to listen to or understand commands until the user utters the wake word. In practice, the patent would allow Alexa to "look backward" at recent things said aloud prior to hearing its name. For example, if a user said something like, "What's the weather going to be like today, Alexa?" the device would hear the trigger word "Alexa" and quickly go back over the prior phrase to process the command.
U.S. Opens Antitrust Probe of Real Estate Brokerage Industry

U.S. Opens Antitrust Probe of Real Estate Brokerage Industry

U.S. antitrust officials are investigating potentially anti-competitive practices in the residential real estate brokerage business, with a focus on compensation to brokers and restrictions on their access to listings. The probe was detailed in a civil investigative demand, which is akin to a subpoena, issued by the Justice Department to CoreLogic Inc., which provides real estate data to government agencies, lenders and other housing-market participants. The U.S. residential real estate industry has long faced criticism that it stifles competition among brokerages, protecting agent commissions that are higher than those paid by sellers in many other countries. In 2008, the Justice Department reached a settlement with the National Association of Realtors, a trade group, that was designed to lower commissions paid by consumers by opening the industry to internet-based brokers.
House Committee Approves Immigration Bill With Marijuana Protections

House Committee Approves Immigration Bill With Marijuana Protections

A congressional committee voted in favor of a wide-ranging immigration bill on Wednesday, and the legislation includes marijuana-related protections for people who were brought to the U.S. as children. Under the DREAM Act as approved, having low-level cannabis convictions, or engaging in state-legal cannabis-related activities such as working in the regulated marijuana industry, would not be counted against applications for permanent resident status for so-called Dreamers. The House Judiciary Committee advanced the bill in a 19-10 vote, without specific discussion about the cannabis provisions.
TSMC says its chips for Huawei do not fall under US hammer

TSMC says its chips for Huawei do not fall under US hammer

HSINCHU, Taiwan/TAIPEI -- The world's largest contract chipmaker has insisted it can continue delivering critical semiconductors to Huawei Technologies without triggering penalties from Washington's crackdown on the use of U.S. technology to supply the Chinese tech giant. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. became the first of Huawei's major suppliers to define the scale of its exposure to the new U.S. constraints, after taking advice from a leading U.S. law firm, which it declined to name
The Latest: PM May resigns, won’t lead Britain out of EU

The Latest: PM May resigns, won’t lead Britain out of EU

The Latest on Brexit and Britain's political crisis (all times local): 8:15 p.m. Theresa May has ended her failed three-year quest to lead Britain out of the European Union, announcing that she will step down as Conservative Party leader June 7 and triggering a contest to choose a new prime minister who will try to complete Brexit. May says Friday in a speech outside 10 Downing St. in London, that "I have done my best" before acknowledging that it was not good enough. She struggled to contain her emotions and her voice broke as she expressed "enduring gratitude to have had the opportunity to serve the country I love."
Tether in court: Yep, we sort of, kind of, definitely used our reserves to buy Bitcoin

Tether in court: Yep, we sort of, kind of, definitely used our reserves to buy Bitcoin

It appears that contrary to its marketing promises, Tether – a cryptocurrency pegged to the US dollar – used some of its dollar reserves to buy Bitcoin $BTC▼4.29%. The stablecoin issuer, which shares management and ownership with cryptocurrency exchange service Bitfinex, has admitted it used its reserves to invest in Bitcoin and other “assets,” according to court transcripts obtained by The Block. The court documents further show New York Supreme Court Judge Joel M. Cohen is growing increasingly suspicious of Bitfinex’s and Tether’s dealings – especially after the companies recently admitted the stablecoin is not entirely backed by cash (which is Tether’s main marketing claim).
Presidential Candidates Are Cosponsoring A New Marijuana Descheduling Bill

Presidential Candidates Are Cosponsoring A New Marijuana Descheduling Bill

Four 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have signed onto new legislation to federally deschedule marijuana—while a handful of other White House hopefuls are notably missing as original cosponsors. The companion bills introduced on Monday by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Actand use some tax revenue from marijuana sales to provide grants to socioeconomically disadvantaged individuals to participate in the legal industry. It would also set aside money to support efforts to expunge past marijuana convictions.
Apple updates MacBook Pro processors and keyboard, extends Keyboard Service Program

Apple updates MacBook Pro processors and keyboard, extends Keyboard Service Program

Continuing its renewed commitment to update pro Mac laptops on a regular basis, Apple on Tuesday announced an update to its 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pro Touch Bar models ten months after the previous announcement. These updates don’t bring any changes to the exterior of the MacBook Pro—it’s the same base design introduced in late 2016—but they do bring 9th-generation Intel processors with up to eight cores to the MacBook Pro for the first time. There’s also been yet another tweak to the controversial butterfly keyboard Apple first introduced in 2015.
Existing-home sales fall for the second straight month in April

Existing-home sales fall for the second straight month in April

The numbers: Existing-home sales ran at a seasonally adjusted annual 5.19 million rate in April, the National Association of Realtors said Tuesday. That was 0.4% lower than March and 4.4% lower than a year ago. What happened: Sales of previously-owned homes have been choppy recently; following a big surge in February, they retreated in March. For April, the MarketWatch consensus was for a 5.35 million selling pace, not a decline. The median selling price in April was $267,300, a 3.6% annual increase. At the current pace of sales, it would take 4.2 months to exhaust available supply, well below the 6-month threshold that’s traditionally been considered a marker of a balanced market. Properties stayed on the market for an average of 24 days in April.
Wyze begins preorders for its $8 smart lightbulb

Wyze begins preorders for its $8 smart lightbulb

Wyze is now taking preorders for its new, ultra-affordable smart lightbulb. Orders are open through the Wyze app, with deliveries expected in late June. At launch, Wyze Bulb will be sold in packs of four and will cost $30. After launch, Wyze will sell Bulbs individually for $8 each, in addition to the 4-pack. Each bulb is 800 lumens and integrates with the rest of Wyze's product offerings along with Amazon's Alexa, Google Assistant, and IFTTT. Other Bulb features include a vacation mode that will randomly turn lights on and off, scheduling, brightness and temperature adjustment, and integration with Wyze cameras.


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