The power of voice – how smart speakers are driving the next era of digital

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As more and more people switch to the power of voice, we take a look at how the speaker with a voice is changing the way we live, work and interact.

A smart speaker is a wireless speaker and voice command service with an integrated virtual assistant that learns your routines and helps you to complete tasks within the home, such as completing a shopping list (and ordering the products in the case of Amazon’s Alexa) and playing your favourite music on demand. The smart device scans for a ‘wake-word’ before replying to a user’s interactions or instructions. It is estimated that at least one in 5 homes are now using a smart speaker to enhance their lives. In the UK there are four major smart speakers available: Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, Google Assistant, and Apple’s Siri.

If you’re still yet to introduce a smart speaker into your home to complete daily tasks, here’s what you’re missing out on.

Home help

The popularity of smart speakers looks set to continue, with more and more households adopting the technology to complete everyday household tasks such as setting reminders, creating shopping lists. However, there have been concerns raised by the public about the intrusive nature of the devices and the use of the data captured, with a lot of negative noise implying they listen to your conversations. Customer profiling is a real concern to some people, with data harvested about consumers to further influence decisions and target services.

There is, however, a case for the powers of customer profiling – a particular strong benefit could be using the devices for health interventions. Smart speakers could be used to detect changes in your speech and offer your medicine that is for sale, or to call a relative. There are, however, obvious implications with self-diagnosis, and therefore diagnosis via smart speaker is no different.

Screen time solution

People are spending more of their time multi-tasking, and with a smart speaker you can multi-task easily. You can set your oven timer and make a call to a friend without even touching a device. Smart speakers offer the very real benefit of reduced screen time in your home or even your workplace. A study in the US revealed that over two-fifths stated that they bought a smart speaker to actively reduce their screen time.

Another added benefit is for those that find using a screen prohibitive, the device can actually be life changing. As the devices are typically easy to use with no fiddly buttons, people with disabilities or hand tremors often find using the voice activated devices to access the web and complete daily tasks much easier.

The future of voice assistants  

As with all technology, devices only improve as the research improves. Devices are likely to become more intuitive, have better word detection and offer more natural interactions. Currently, only a third of smart speaker users have their device linked up to other smart devices. This is likely to change as more and more devices enter the market, and we move to a more connected environment. It is likely we will see more hardware with voice assistants already integrated.

It is feasible we will see more smart speaker devices in hotels and rental accommodation over the coming years, as manufacturers push their appeal to both the resident and the hotel owner.

However, with advancements come drawbacks. Installing smart speakers in hotel rooms offers residents little or no choice as to whether they use the device. There are also data collection implications, as permission must be sought if data is being collated and stored about a person.

Smart speakers and the telecoms industry

So, what does this influx of smart speakers mean for the telecoms industry? To put it bluntly, it’s another connected device and as so requires a Wi-Fi or mobile data connection to work. On average an Alexa uses 100MB per hour and a consistent, quick connection to be able to provide the service the user is expecting from their voice activated assistant.

At Commhoist, we provide end-to-end mobile telecoms logistics across the UK. Supporting the improvements of the mobile network and the roll out of 5G.