Dumb devices made smart by HomePods that listen to your home

A combined research team from Apple and Carnegie Mellon University has shown that dumb devices are smart. They created a demonstration video (below) to accompany an academic article.

Rather than every device you own should be smart, the approach suggests that something like a HomePod be trained to understand what is happening at home …

The paper was co-authored by two researchers from each organization. TechCrunch explains the idea behind it.

The system, which they called Listen to the learner, relies on the recognition of acoustic activity to allow a smart device, such as a speaker equipped with a microphone, to interpret the events taking place in its environment through a self-learning process. supervised with manual labeling done by the speaker asking someone “what was that sound?” after hearing the noise long enough to classify it into a group.

A pre-trained general model can also be looped to allow the system to make an initial estimate of what an acoustic group might mean. User interaction could therefore be less open, with the system being able to ask a question such as “was that a tap?” – requiring only a yes / no response from the human present in the room.

What’s in it for you? A concept video shows the example of the smart speaker recognizing the ping of an ordinary stupid microwave and alerting the user that their food is ready. That way, you don’t have to replace your existing devices with expensive smart ones, instead let your HomePod or similar device figure out what’s going on and then alert you.

Another example demonstrated is the recognition of a knock on the door.

It’s fun to think of other apps for this, and some quickly occurred to me.

One example is to operate a bath. If HomePod can recognize the sound of the tub starting to flow and then the faucet is turned off, it can learn how long the tub should run and alert us if we forget to turn off the faucet.

Another would be to recognize individual household members by their tracks, triggering personalized actions when they return home. No need for a smart camera system with facial recognition, just a HomePod that listens to their distinctive footsteps.

Watch the video below and share your own ideas of silly made smart devices in the comments.

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Tommy Dodd

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