Amulet Devices Voice Remote for Windows Media Center

Amulet Devices Blog

Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Amulet moving to voice in the cloud

Tue, October 11, 2011 by

As some of you know, we’ve been working on moving Amulet’s voice recognition technology into the cloud.

If you’re an existing Amulet Voice Remote user, you’ll know that Amulet’s voice recognition takes place on your home theatre PC. While this works well for Media Center users, it’s not a good fit for the typical settop box provided by your cable or satellite provider, which usually lacks the CPU performance for good quality speech recognition.

Today, with most households having highspeed Internet, it’s feasible to move the voice recognition engine to a remote Internet server. When you talk into your Amulet Remote, X-Box Kinect, or other voice input device, the audio can be streamed across the Internet in realtime, recognized, and the results sent back to your living room, and it all happens fast enough to keep you from getting impatient.

I’ve made a short video to show how well this works in practise. We have an internal prototype Electronic Program Guide (EPG) application we’ve developed, which works with our next generation low-cost audio remote control hardware.

In the demo, you can see me giving voice commands which are processed in realtime by a remote cloud-based recognition engine. The demo was recorded in Ireland, and the cloud server is in the US, so as you can see, distance is no longer a barrier.

We plan to make further announcements about this technology soon — stay tuned!

Kinect Audio Smarts are seriously impressive!

Thu, August 4, 2011 by

Anyone who’s ever used the latest speech recognition technologies with a plain old microphone will tell you that the results can be surprisingly good, as long as you stay close to the mic, have no background noise and turn the mic off when you’re not speaking.

But if you wanted to place a mic under your TV and have it listen to you while the TV is on, then good luck! The mic won’t be able to hear you over the TV audio and worse still, the TV content will trigger the speech recognition causing it to execute all sorts of spurious commands.

Well that’s now changed. There are several audio “smarts” built into Microsoft’s Kinect game controller that allow it to sit next to a TV and make speech recognition possible at a range of several meters! I’ve made a couple of videos that show just such a scenario:

I think the Kinect video capabilities such as skeletal tracking and depth sensing have tended to overshadow the audio capabilities of the unit. From my experience with Kinect so far, I think its audio smarts are seriously impressive.

TheGreenButton relaunched

Tue, June 21, 2011 by

As many of you might know, was the online forum for Media Center users to discuss everything to do with our favorite platform. Hugely active, it had a wide spectrum of members, from Media Center experts to brand new novices, all happy to share their knowledge. Many Microsoft staff also helped out with advance info and feedback, often on their own time.

Microsoft bought TheGreenButton about three years ago, and for a while continued to run it as a (mostly) independent support forum, recognizing the value of the community that had been built up there. Recently, however, they decided to merge the site with their existing Expert forums, renaming it the “Windows Entertainment and Connected Home” forum.

Unfortunately, this had the side effect of removing the sense of identity associated with TheGreenButton, and many regular users started drifting away.

Well, good news! The original Green Button has now been resurrected at It’s completely independent of Microsoft, so conversation will likely be more forthright. The site has only been running for two weeks, but is already gaining members at a fast rate.

Why not pay a visit and find out the latest Media Center news and views.

Realtime language translation with Amulet

Mon, April 11, 2011 by

The Amulet blog has been pretty quiet for the past month or two, as we focus on completing the next release of Amulet software. Thanks to all the external Ceton and My Movies beta testers who have been helping us with this.

The new release should be generally available soon, but in the meantime, I thought you might like to see Amulet doing something a little different:

Amulet user James Richards has extended his VoxCommando product to support dynamic language translation using Google Translate, and it works very well indeed. Check out James’ new video here:

You can find out more on the VoxCommando website.

If you have any other interesting applications for the Amulet Voice Remote, let us know and we’ll highlight them here.

DLNA Speech Enabled Controller

Wed, January 26, 2011 by

I’ve recently been giving some thought to something I call a DLNA Speech Enabled Controller.

Imagine a software application that would sit on a PC on your LAN. It would have speech recognition capability and receive voice input from anywhere in the house over a radio link courtesy of an Amulet remote (or maybe a wearable device). It would find content on any DLNA media controller type devices on the network, and enable its playback on any DLNA media renderer devices on the network.

What would you think of such a device? I’ll start a thread in the forums (General) and you can let me know.

Pushing and Pulling with DLNA

Wed, January 26, 2011 by

I’ve been using the DLNA capability of my Samsung TV for some time to directly access media stored on a Windows 7 PC, but I’ve recently tried out two other scenarios that work surprisingly well thanks to the inbuilt support in Windows 7.

The first is the ability to “push” a video (or other piece of media) from a PC on the LAN directly to my TV. By just right clicking on it in Windows Media Player and selecting “Play To”, it immediately starts playing on the TV!

The second is the ability to “pull” live TV content from a PC with a tuner card running DVBLink Source and Network Pack to another PC connected to the TV and running Windows Media Player. The secret here proved to be finding all the TV channels under “Recorded TV” in WMP — not the most intuitive place for live TV channel selection.

You can find some good information on Windows 7 DLNA here.

The Holidays are coming!

Thu, December 9, 2010 by

Order your Amulet Voice Remote now for just $199. It’s the most innovative accessory for Windows Media Center!

Buy Now

HoustonWinMeet – What a great event!

Sun, December 5, 2010 by

I just returned from Houston where I attended the “HoustonWinMeet: A Windows Entertainment and Connected Home Meet-up”.  What a great event.  The venue was awesome and the night was well attended with about 40 home entertainment and home media enthusiasts on hand.  We saw some cool presentations from Drew Peterson and Dan Laycock of Microsoft on  Windows 7 Play To and Windows Product Scout. We also saw several cool new products which will be reviewed on in the near term.  We finished with product demos and discussions from Ceton distributor Gregg Cannon from Cannon PC and Kevin Buchanan from Fluid Digital.  The swag and prizes given in the after show raffle made me wish I had been and attendee, not a presenter.

Thanks to Michael Welter of MissingRemote, Peter Brown of The Green Button and Wendy Stidmon of Microsoft for coordinating this great event.  I’d love to see similar events for enthusiasts throughout the country.  For now, Houston has set the bar…

Amulet Success at HoustonWinMeet

Sat, December 4, 2010 by

We had a successful evening last week at the #HoustonWinMeet. There will be further details on how much everyone enjoyed using the Amulet Voice Remote later in the week.

Amulet Support in VoxCommando

Mon, November 15, 2010 by

VoxCommando is an independent software application that adds voice control to a number of popular media player and home automation applications — not only Windows Media Center, but also XBMC, iTunes, MediaMonkey, MediaPortal,  and EventGhost.

We’ve been working with VoxCommando’s author, James Richards, to help add direct support for the Amulet Voice Remote when used with VoxCommando.

His additions allow VoxCommando to automatically detect when the Amulet radio link is idle and turn off voice recognition to save CPU cycles. It also automatically lowers the music volume when the Amulet microphone is active, to avoid loud music interfering with spoken commands. On-screen indicators track the current microphone state to provide additional visual feedback.

If you’re interested in Amulet, but not using Windows Media Center, or using a language other than English, this is great news — you can now use VoxCommando with Amulet and get all the benefits of voice control through a convenient hand-held device.