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Google Pixel Buds tap AI to alert users to sirens, crying babies, and barking dogs

Google Pixel Buds can now alert you to the sounds of a crying baby, barking dog, or the siren of an emergency vehicle when you’re listening to something and may not otherwise hear the sound. The feature reduces the volume of whatever music or podcast you’re listening to and plays a chime sound to signal an alert. Attention Alerts is part of an AI-powered experimental feature being added to Google’s flagship earbuds today in a larger firmware update.

Google trained AI systems to recognize the trio of sounds by scraping audio from publicly available videos, a company spokesperson told VentureBeat.

Amazon’s Echo speakers have the ability to detect sounds that may be important in a home setting, like alarms, breaking glass, or sounds indicating someone is in your home when you’re away.

Pixel Buds are also getting a more powerful way to translate languages today. They are now able to use Transcribe mode on Google Translate with a voice command, starting with English translations for French, German, Italian, and French speakers. Google also introduced voice commands to turn off earbud touch control and check earbud battery levels today. Conversation mode translations can be helpful, but since they only last a few seconds, they’re not always practical in an actual conversation, where people can speak uninterrupted for longer periods of time. A Google spokesperson told VentureBeat that Transcribe supports listening for up to a couple of hours. Transcribe mode for the Google Translate app launched in March.

Also new today is a feature that recognizes when you’re sharing an earbud with another person. And you can now use Find My Device to get the last known location of your Pixel Buds. Features like the ability to lower volume in loud places, Attention Alerts, and extensive translations are powered by a series of microphones on the exterior of each earbud.

Google made Pixel Buds 2 available for $179 in April. To justify a price tag slightly higher than that of other popular choices, like Samsung Galaxy Buds or Apple AirPods, Pixel Buds launched with unique features, such as the ability to automatically turn up the volume when the surrounding environment gets noisy, hands-free access to Google Assistant, and conversation mode to power quick translations.

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