Voice-First devices, or digital voice assistants (DVA), mark a significant turning point in digital technologies. They’re revolutionising design principles, business models and e-commerce. We had a look at the DVA boom and the latest trends in voice commands.
Amazon Echo and Apple are launching their own voice assistants to rival Google’s Home range, which came out in the States in 2016 and has been available in Europe since last summer.
Microsoft, meanwhile, is bringing out its own smart speaker, called Invoke, combining the capabilities of its Cortana assistant with the expertise of Harmon Kardon, Samsung’s speaker division. The DVA is a potentially huge market: according to a report by Accenture, by 2018, over one third of the online population in the USA, Brazil, India, China and Mexico will own a digital voice assistant.
The battle of the smart speakers
Amazon’s Alexa-powered Echo is thus hoping to take on Google Home, which sold extremely well last Christmas: almost 7 million were sold worldwide. Amazon, meanwhile, according to CEO Jeff Bezos, has already sold tens of millions of devices since it was launched.
Apple’s HomePod, which was launched in the US, Australia and the UK in early February this year, and is naturally powered by Siri, is now joining the smart speaker race. In the US, Amazon is currently the market leader.
How voice assistants will change our lives
“Alexa, buy some more toothpaste. OK, Google, what’s the weather today? Hey Siri, turn the lights down.” Such man-to-machine “conversations” will soon be common around households: rapid adoption of voice assistants is being hailed as the next major trend in consumer digital uses.
But how will we use them? How will interfaces and product design change? How will content be sold? What sort of marketing and advertising strategies will be implemented? Voice assistance raises a host of questions.
So what do smart speakers do?
Already 39 million people own Amazon or Google smart speakers in the US.
These early adopters claim the devices have replaced their radio and screens (smartphone, tablet, TV and PC), according to the Smart Audio Report by NPR/Edison.
Controlling smart home devices and finding out traffic or weather information are among the most common uses for smart speakers, although types of use vary from one time of the day to another (see below).
Users also use smart speakers as an additional means of purchasing. 22% of respondents used them to order a new product not previously purchased, while 31% added an item to their cart for later.
Respondents also said they would like to see the smart speaker technology used in cars, on their phone, or on their television – closely followed by in the workplace. So will DVAs be the next big technology in the workplace? Well, wait and see – or rather, listen!