Tech Digest daily round up: Alexa to get male voice, Ziggy


Amazon is rolling out a brand new voice for Alexa that will give users a more masculine option over the assistant’s default voice, and it even comes with its own new wake word. Named Ziggy, this deeper-voiced alternative has certainly been a long time coming for Alexa compatible devices. Much like the celebrity voices of Shaquille O’ Neal and Melissa McCarthy that were recently added to Alexa, Ziggy is currently only available to use in the US. However, given that Ziggy is more of a generalist voice, and not licensed from a specific celebrity, we expect it to roll out worldwide eventually. Tech Radar 

Sir Paul McCartney has been given the de-aging treatment in the video for his new track Find My Way. The Beatles icon, 79, has had decades dropped from his appearance in the clip, in which he dances down a hotel corridor. The video to Macca’s new single featuring Beck has been co-produced by Hyperreal Digital, which creates “hyper-realistic” digital avatars – similar to the technology used to make deep-fakes. “The technology to de-age talent and have them perform in creative environments like this is now fully-realised, even with one of the most recognised faces in the world,” said Hyperreal chief executive Remington Scott. Sky News

Mark Zuckerberg has laid out his vision to transform Facebook from a social media network into a “metaverse company” in the next five years. A metaverse is an online world where people can game, work and communicate in a virtual environment, often using VR headsets. The Facebook CEO described it as “an embodied internet where instead of just viewing content – you are in it”. He told The Verge people shouldn’t live through “small, glowing rectangle. That’s not really how people are made to interact,” he said, speaking of reliance on mobile phones. “A lot of the meetings that we have today, you’re looking at a grid of faces on a screen. That’s not how we process things either.” BBC 

Waymo, Google’s driverless-car sister company, has warned against the UK imposing strict rules for self-driving vehicles in one of its first interventions in Britain. The company has submitted comments to a Law Commission consultation about how laws for driverless cars should be written, urging against measures that would “limit deployment” of the vehicles. It is a sign that Waymo, owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet, is taking a more active role in the UK as it prepares to expand tests of its driverless cars. The company, which allows ­members of the public to order and ride in a completely driverless car in Phoenix, Arizona, is regarded as a leader in fully autonomous vehicles. Telegraph

Using satellite technology to study how bogs “breathe” could help build a better picture of the condition of Scotland’s peatland, experts have said. New research, published on International Bog Day, demonstrated the potential of measuring bog “breathing” – or peatland surface motions – to monitor the condition of sites, and possibly even carbon emissions from them. The research is a collaboration between NatureScot – which was previously known as Scottish Natural Heritage – the University of the Highlands and Islands, the University of Nottingham, and Forestry and Land Scotland.It used satellite interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) to map the movement of the ground’s surface – a technique developed with University of Nottingham spinout company Terra Motion Ltd. Yahoo!

Chris Price
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