Voice is the next touch
Screens have naturally been the way we interact with technology. Recently, a leap in technology and progression in machine learning algorithms we have made it possible to easily use voice as an interaction method. As the internet disrupted most businesses and created others, voice interaction can do that to some degree as well. Tech giants as Google, Amazon, and Apple know this very well and therefore put a lot of effort to be the leaders of intelligent voice assistants.
Imagine, a future scenario when people use their voice assistants to look for answers or to purchase their groceries. If Google and Amazon would miss out on this increasingly popular touch-point it could disrupt a large part of their business. I don’t believe that we will fully get rid of some sort of visual interface but it will more and more be controlled by voice.
In many countries, it is growingly more popular to use the voice-to-text function to chat with friends and family. The younger generation seems very accustomed to using voice instead of writing.
Let the voice assistant wars begin
The first major company to introduce a physical voice assistant into people’s homes is Amazon with their Echo devices. Amazon sells its cheapest device at around 49 euro. The Echo can do many things, like be used to play music, read audiobooks, set up reminders, alarms, ordering ubers, and of course to shop. As shopping is Amazon’s core business naturally being its owners personal assistant is like having an Amazon representative sitting in peoples homes. The same thing goes for Google; who’s core business is ads. If people use visual interfaces less Google will naturally suffer, and thus introduced the Google Assistant.
Alexa, me and my fiancé (not in that order)
I got an Amazon Echo dot as a birthday gift, and as I am a tech nerd I naturally set it up the moment I got home. As it was close to midnight I stumbled upon my first awkward moment with Alexa (The Echo voice assistant) where I talked and she responded. So did my fiancé who was in the other room getting ready to sleep and who would naturally think I was talking to her, as she is the only other living being in our apartment.
While I was talking to Alexa, my wife was confused as I was talking to her
I had positioned one Echo in the bedroom and one in the living rooms. I was using the one in the bedroom more frequently as it became useful to get my day started.
Based on using it 1 month, these are my main 3 Amazon Echo use cases:
- Listening to the morning news
- Checking the weather
- Setting a timer
Which if you think about it, is pretty basic tasks. The current uses of “intelligent” voice assistants are still very limited, especially since the commands to get into these functions are still very scripted.