Amazon’s Alexa was in the news again this week, but this time for creepily laughing at its owners without any provocation. Imagine being home alone, after watching a scary movie, and hearing that laugh out of nowhere.
The “always listening” feature of these smart speakers does bring a variety of privacy concerns to mind, and as more homes become voice-enabled it inevitably will lead to the beginning of Skynet. However, that has not stopped the rapid adoption of the virtual assistant in the US (including by me!). In fact, Juniper Research predicts that by 2022 over 55% of US Households will have a smart speaker.
It’s a race right now between Amazon, Google, Apple, and Microsoft as they work to develop as many partnerships as they can to integrate their voice assistants into the marketplace and ultimately our lives. Many of these partnership announcements made for an exciting CES this year, including Amazon linking with the Auto sector (Toyota, Lexus, and Ford). Additional partnerships will add virtual assistants to items such as TVs, mirrors (yes, mirrors!), and appliances. Pretty soon you will have access to the voice assistant of your choosing in every room of your house.
Furthermore, there are rumors that Apple will be releasing a cheaper HomePod to copy Amazon’s approach with the Echo Dots. The more affordable the devices become, the quicker we will see global adoption become a reality. The nice thing for us is that the partnerships the vendors are forming can pave the way to a lower price for the consumer.
The marketplaces and use cases have a long way to go to transition from being helpful at times and fun to practical and a “must have.” This is where the lower-priced devices come in: the lower price points reduce the pressure to deliver that high-value experience at this time. However, once those experiences improve, the vendors will have a large audience to connect with and monetize for themselves and their partners.
Where this goes remains to be seen, but it surely will transform how we search, shop, and operate our homes. I have to admit, the home automation and security options that link with the virtual assistants is really nice to have and fun to tinker with. I suppose that means the robots will easily be able to locate and defeat me when the time comes. Until then, I’m going to enjoy the technology race and continue to find ways to integrate the virtual assistant into my daily life.
What are your thoughts on this? How are you using the technology today? Leave a comment below or continue the conversation with me directly via any of the options found here.