Voice assistants dominate at CES 2018
Smart speakers Amazon Alexa and Google Home were two of the most popular Christmas gifts in 2017. And rather than the standard Christmas novelty you just use once, people are finding these assistants genuinely useful, worthwhile additions to their lives.
They’re getting cleverer every day
The more we use virtual assistants and smart speakers, the greater the data that’s generated. And the more data there is, the more the assistants know.
Amazon was first to the smart speaker market, and their aggressive marketing and pricing strategy has made them the personal assistant of choice for over 70% of smart speaker owners. But if CES is anything to go by, Google is up for the fight, with more compatible products being launched every day.
Google is a sleeping giant, as its Google Assistant is available on most of the world’s smartphones - even iPhones. And to succeed, smart assistants need to be ubiquitous throughout our daily lives. They can’t just be something we use at home.
And, being Google, it’s backed up by the world’s largest search library.
It’s not just a two-sided battle
We could be forgiven for thinking the battle is just between these two behemoths. But Apple has its own smart home speaker, the Home Pod with virtual assistant Siri. Samsung’s Bixby was introduced to the Galaxy S8 smartphone early last year, and while it isn’t currently available on a speaker, they’re now baking it into many of the new products, including televisions and fridges.
And then there’s Windows' Cortana, the handy personal assistant on your PC and laptop. However, she’s soon to be joined by Amazon Alexa in the PC and laptop field based on announcements from HP, Lenovo, Asus and Acer who all confirmed they’ll include Amazon Alexa in all new Windows 10 laptops they release this year.
Moving outside the speaker
So, they’re available in our phones and through speakers, but what else? Already we’ve seen multiple pairs of headphones released with Alexa built-in to help you control music, call people, find directions and more. The convenience of hands-free is far outweighing the initial embarrassment of talking to yourself.
There’s a huge amount of previously unresponsive tech that you’re suddenly able to talk to, all thanks to these virtual helpers. Have a chat to your fridge from the supermarket to see if you need more milk. Ask your front door if it's open. Tell your blinds to open while you’re away on holiday.
And then there’s the autonomous car, which is one of the biggest ways these assistants are moving outside the home. Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant could become your driver. Panasonic has just announced a brand new car console that includes your choice of virtual assistant. And as well as their online capabilities, they’re now available offline too, to turn on air conditioning, adjust your seat and more.
Alexa, show me a map
New smart screen speakers from the likes of Lenovo, Sony and JBL are a brand new category, enabling your Assistant to show you what they’re talking about. They can display maps, show you images from your smart tech, display photos and much more.
Voice assistants are now also available inside televisions from LG and Samsung. You can sit on the couch and order a pizza by speaking through your remote, then see the pizza delivery guy arrive through your smart tech doorbell displayed on the screen. All you need is a robot to go and answer the door. And you can be sure that’s coming soon too.
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