Anki Drive iOS app updated with new car upgrades, customization options

Anki Drive got the ultimate endorsement last summer when Apple allowed the company to demonstrate its product on stage at its WWDC conference. For those unfamiliar, Anki Drive is a platform that allows hardware cars to be raced around a track and controlled wirelessly with an iOS device. Today, the company updated its iOS app with a host of new features, upgrades, and customization options. With today’s update, players can now take advantage of 20 new upgrade options, in addition to be able to further customize their car.

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Endorsed by Tim Cook at WWDC, Anki Drive likely to launch this month

With Apple CEO Tim Cook’s endorsement, Anki, a company with artificial intelligence and robots-based products, debuted Anki Drive at WWDC earlier this year. Anki Drive is a car game for iOS that connects to physical cars. The app is currently available via the App Store while the cars and mat system will be available via retail channels…

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Siri leaks her own upcoming ability to speak Japanese

Siri is many things, but it seems she is not a good secret keeper. A few tipsters reached out and told us that Siri now speaks Japanese. Rumors earlier this month said Apple’s AI speech recognition interface would gain Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, and possibly Russian. It now appears that Japanese is about to be announced, perhaps at the iPad 3 announcement next month. There is no word yet on Chinese or Russian, but those are also likely coming soon.

When Siri was announced in October, Apple said that that additional languages would follow this year.  Apple’s Siri FAQ says that she will support Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Italian, and Spanish in 2012:

Language Support and Availability

Siri works exclusively on iPhone 4S. Siri understands and can speak the following languages:

  • English (United States, United Kingdom, Australia)
  • French (France)
  • German (Germany)

In 2012, Siri will support additional languages, including Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Italian, and Spanish.

Can I use Siri in any of these languages in other countries?

Yes. Siri can be enabled in any country, and you can choose to speak to it in English, French, or German. However, Siri is designed to recognize the specific accents and dialects of the supported countries listed above. Since every language has its own accents and dialects, the accuracy rate will be higher for native speakers.

Thanks Alex, AR and D.

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Siri demos are making the rounds. Is this going to ‘Change the world’?

When we interviewed Siri co-founder Norman Winarsky in the week before the Siri announcement, he said that Apple’s foray into ‘mainstreaming the Virtual Personal Assistant’ would be the next step in human interfaces. Keyboard, Mouse, Touch Screen, and now Voice. A World-Changing event.

Make no mistake: Apple’s ‘mainstreaming’ Artificial Intelligence in the form of a Virtual Personal Assistant is a groundbreaking event. I’d go so far as to say it is a World-Changing event. Right now a few people dabble in partial AI enabled apps like Google Voice Actions, Vlingo or Nuance Go. Siri was many iterations ahead of these technologies, or at least it was two years ago. This is REAL AI with REAL market use. If the rumors are true, Apple will enable millions upon millions of people to interact with machines with natural language. The PAL will get things done and this is only the tip of the iceberg. We’re talking another technology revolution. A new computing paradigm shift.

With some customers getting their hands on their iPhone 4S early, there are some early Siri walkthroughs hitting the net, below:

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Co-Founder of Siri: Assistant launch is a “World-Changing Event” (Interview)

On Tuesday, Apple will change the way humans interact with electronic devices. All over again.

Perhaps the biggest announcement at Apple’s iPhone event on Tuesday will be Assistant, Apple’s evolution of the Siri Personal Assistant Software. Siri, you’ll remember, is the company Apple picked up for a rumored $200 million in April of last year for, in Steve Jobs’ words, its “Artificial Intelligence”, not search or speech recognition.

During Siri’s brief two months on its own, it described itself as a ‘VPA’:

Virtual Personal Assistants (VPAs) represent the next generation interaction paradigm for the Internet. In today’s paradigm, we follow links on search results. With a VPA, we interact by having a conversation. We tell the assistant what we want to do, and it applies multiple services and information sources to help accomplish our task. Like a real assistant, a VPA is personal; it uses information about an individual’s preferences and interaction history to help solve specific tasks, and it gets better with experience.

Apple has long wanted to bring an Artificial Intelligence-based Personal Assistant to the masses. In the late 80′s, Apple made the Knowledge Navigator series of videos (example below) to showcase this ambition.

In the video, the professor mentions that someone wrote an article 5 years ago trashing Jill’s research (watch from 1:25 min onwards, at 1:50 min he mentions more details) – The computer says the doctor’s name and says his article in 2006 – which means the professor is in 2011. Ha! Thanks PBHK!

The world has come a long way since then, but as you’ll see on Tuesday, Apple had remarkable foresight way back in 1987.

We had the chance to speak to Siri’s co-founder and board member, Norman Winarsky…

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