Warm Up Your Vocal Cords, Tech Giants Want You To Speak Out Loud!

  • On January 16, 2019

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Make no mistakes, this CES event was all about Voice. You could see it everywhere, from the monorail train bringing attendees up and down the Strip to the large “hidden” ballroom Amazon had taken over at the Venetian.

Google-Assistant
Credit: Engadget

But it wasn’t the large booths that made Voice the hit of CES 2019. Walking the stalls, it was noticeable that every stand promoting some sort of “smart” device would have either a big “works with Amazon Alexa” sign or an all-in-white Google Assistant Promoter educating the public on how to interact with the Google Voice Assistant (“Hey Google” anyone?).

Hey-Google
Credit: BBC

We have reached the point where if a device doesn’t work with Voice, tech savvy crowds are disappointed. This explains the move from Google and Amazon to embed their “Assistants” on a chip that can go virtually anywhere and signals the beginning of the Voice-Everywhere Era.

Voice-Assistant-Features

Google is looking to establish a broad market of devices in all sorts of categories that feature its Assistant in order to provide consumers with constant access to the AI — even if they don’t have their phones on them.

Meanwhile, more companies are finding ways to integrate AI voice assistants into the home without dedicated devices. They’re inserting these assistants into everything from bathroom lights and toilets from Kohler to mirrors from SimpleHuman, and even pet-monitoring cameras from Petcube. These devices are built with either Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s Assistant — or both — integrated into their hardware, with microphones to record and transmit voice commands.

Are consumers ready for such an extensive Voice Everywhere presence?

Not really. Most consumers still have pretty basic interactions with their voice devices and question whether Voice is really needed “everywhere”. Voice on its own isn’t always enough and manufacturers are responding by building screened smart home devices. Voice-first interfaces provide simple ways for a user to give a command quickly, but they’re not particularly well suited to displaying large amounts of information, adjusting a range of settings at one time or conveying a list of instructions in a cooking recipe, for example. That’s why screen-equipped smart devices have proliferated at CES, ranging from a wooden touch-sensitive smart home display from Mui to a Google Assistant-powered screened smart speaker from KitchenAid and a home security organization tablet from ADT.

Friends-of-the-Google-Assistant
Credit: Getty Images

However, users are questioning the actual benefit of some Voice enabled devices:

“They’re putting Alexa in everything and I’m getting a little bit tired of it,” one user-interface specialist from a major carmaker told the BBC at CES. “If I want to open my toilet why should I tell Alexa to open my toilet instead of opening it myself?”

Amazon-Alexa
Credit: isupdate.com

Whether you have started to use Voice enabled devices in your routine or not, the trend from CES is clear, the tech giants believe Voice is needed and it’s here to stay.

What does this mean for marketers?

All marketers from every industry should sit up and take notice of this trend and closely follow its evolution. Building for Voice interfaces is not the same as building a Web Page; the language construct requires a different type of expertise and consumer experience thinking. Whether you are on the device manufacturing side and want to build interfaces or on the advertising side and want to build content, you need to go on a learning journey which includes experiencing this new channel for yourself.

Want to see which devices have been presented with “Voice Inside”? Click here for a good roundup from Digital Trends.

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At EBI, we understand the crucial importance of Voice and over the past year have developed extensive expertise of its application in eCommerce. Contact us to find out more about how we can help you to get started with Voice.

Luigi Matrone

CEO & Founder eBusiness Institute

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