Alexa play some relaxing music!
You might have noticed the increase in speech recognition systems. Whether it’s Siri, Cortana, your Amazon echo, dot or Google Home, recent generations of smartphone and smart home products have focused on the use of voice interaction as a new way of adding value and making user input more natural. Talking to an iPhone or Amazon Echo, via services like Siri or Alexa, means the owner doesn’t need to be looking at a screen or holding a device when requesting an action. This is a development on the continuum of artificial intelligence as these systems remember your preferences.
Without touching a gadget, voice users can
- get the latest news from your preferred news channel
- play radio stations
- answer general factual questions
- start and change music playlists
- order pizza
- add products to a shopping list
- create new lists (which can be emailed to you)
- book taxis
- get a diary reminder
- be told to take your umbrella if it’s raining
- plus Alexa will tell you a joke if really needed!
If you live in a connected home, with lots of gadgets that will see each other, Alexa can also
- change TV channels
- turn up the thermostat
- change the lighting
This can all take place while you’re cooking the supper, without touching a button, all based on voice command. A benefit is that as it’s a more normalised approach to user interaction, it helps those less confident with technology, feel in control. The use of natural language processing to help the system understand what people are asking represents part of the next wave of customer and user interaction.
The growth of conversational commerce
These services, along with a growing number of chat bots that appear on websites, and computer kiosks in stores and businesses, are all part of a move toward conversational commerce, where we can ask technology to perform actions on our behalf.
For social media and e-commerce, talking to someone, even a robot, can be more fun and personal. And a robot’s suggestion of “you might also like this” provides a new way to upsell, far more appealing than users receiving follow up emails long after a retail interaction. The latest generation of smart voice assistants, starting with Google’s Home, can also remember previous conversations, allowing users to build up a rapport and understanding with their machines.
This step forward alone shows how the AI market is moving forward and trying to help understand the consumer better. Building trust with users at home will help create new degrees of brand loyalty, where the system will know their preferences to a greater degree and the owners will delegate more tasks to virtual assistants in the coming years.
Current devices for voice commands
The key devices at present include
- Amazon echo
- Amazon dot (smaller and cheaper)
- Google home (not yet in the UK)
All devices allow multiple devices to be connected, just plug it in, download the app and start asking!
The internet of things
As smart home fridges learn what is stored in them and what’s used, automatic reordering becomes a logical progression, while Amazon Dash buttons or similar devices will help systems reorder items that are less easy to quantify or monitor.
Voice commands will continue to increase and elements of machine learning will subsequently adapt to the requests, 2017 will see the growth of voice search. Companies will need to identify whether it offers relevant business opportunities to be included within those search results and command options.