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  • Mozilla intros experimental web payment API for Firefox OS

    Mozilla intros experimental web payment API for Firefox OS

    Mozilla’s fledgling Firefox OS has yet to seed out to actual consumers, but when it does an “easy and secure” payment platform should be in place. Announced via the company’s developer-focused Hacks blog, navigator.mozPay() is a Javascript API crafted in the vein of Google Wallet, but with a key difference: it’ll allow direct carrier billing and support for various payment providers. So when users trigger the ‘Buy’ button from within a web app, they’ll be presented with a window from which to complete the purchase, with the entirety of the transaction taking place “in-app.” Despite the desire to open this payment API up to all comers and deliver flexibility to consumers and merchants, the first batch of Firefox OS handsets will actually feature a whitelist of approved payment providers — something Mozilla hopes will eventually change as this API evolves and becomes more secure. But Firefox OS isn’t the last stop for the payment platform, as it’ll be headed to the desktop browser and Firefox for Android soon.

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    Via: TechCrunch

    Source: Mozilla

  • StorEbook reads children's books, even does the funny voices


    We’ve come a long way since an IBM 704 first croaked its way through Daisy Bell. Now we’ve got Siri copping an attitude when we ask a stupid question and Google Now feeding information in an incredibly realistic sounding voice. AT&T has its own initiative, dubbed Natural Voices. At this morning’s Foundry event, one demo involved using the voice synthesis engine to read a children’s book — specifically Goldilocks and the Three Bears. This isn’t just another text-to-speech demo though, StorEbook uses the impressive and appropriately named library of sampled phonemes to speak in unique, realistic voices for each character. What’s more, from the library of different voices (of which there are dozens), the web-based app chooses the most appropriate voice automatically, based on character traits input by the developer, Taniya Mishra.

    In the future, she envisions a system smart enough to analyze the text of a story and pick out the salient traits on its own, then assign a voice to that character. Or even use algorithms to modify vocal features to convey emotion or age a character. Perhaps the most ambitious idea is to create personalized voices. A child could then have a story read to him or her, virtually, by a parent or grandparent. A mother would need to create a database of her voice first, by reading a few hundred sentences. Though, this wouldn’t mean sitting down and reading through 100 sample sentences in one shot. Theoretically the necessary data could be collected overtime through recorded voice searches, commands or conversations (if you’re willing to accept something that intrusive and creepy). There are still some rough edges, and no one is going to mistake Natural Voices for actual natural voices. But Mishra’s goals aren’t as far fetched as you might imagine — the era of the vocal computer is upon us, friends.

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  • Apple tries for a patent on removable laptop touchscreens with wireless charging

    Apple tries for a patent on detachable displays with wireless charging, and other unlikely feats

    We’re all in favor of advancing the state of the art, but there are times when we suspect that research is more about “what if” explorations than anything else. Exhibit A: Apple’s new patent application for a wireless display. The concept would let a touchscreen detach from its laptop base through a 60GHz ultrawideband format (such as WiGig) and keep its battery powered up through at least some form of wireless charging located in the laptop’s hinge. It sounds viable when others have experimented with wireless displays before, but we’d note that both technical realities and corporate philosophies might stand in its way. Along with the usual challenges of battery life and wireless range, Apple has so far argued that touchscreen laptops are unwieldy and isn’t exactly in a rush to supplement booming iPad sales — even if granted, the patent may just be a matter of covering the bases rather than any kind of roadmap for a two-piece MacBook Pro. Still, we won’t completely rule it out when many also thought Apple wouldn’t make a phone.

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    Source: USPTO

  • The Engadget Interview: HTC President of Global Sales Jason MacKenzie

    The Engadget Interview HTC President of Global Sales Jason McKenzie

    Shortly after Facebook’s big reveal this morning, we caught up with HTC President of Global Sales Jason McKenzie and spent a few minutes with him discussing the First. As expected, he was pretty excited about this collaboration between his company, Facebook and AT&T. Jason revealed to us that HTC’s strategy involves ultimately catering the First to hardcore (or at least frequent) users of the social network, whereas a device like the One will be more appealing to those who aren’t interested in staying constantly connected. Interestingly, HTC seems to have put Facebook in the driver’s seat here, as the First will not only come pre-loaded with Facebook Home (and its firmware optimizations), but no sign of Sense anywhere. It’s certainly a departure from HTC’s usual branding efforts, so it’ll be intriguing to see exactly how well the device sells on AT&T. We have our full interview with Jason below, so take a few minutes to get the First scoop.

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