Chatting with a digital assistant is about as much fun as trying to reason with a stubborn child. If you've ever found yourself yelling at your Xbox or swearing at Siri, you may have already lost hope.

But researchers say recent breakthroughs in speech recognition and artificial intelligence will soon make gadgets dramatically better at understanding people. This new breed of highly competent machines, which are able to not only hear us but to understand context and nuance, is just a year or two away, says Johan Schalkwyk, a distinguished engineer at Google.

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