Travel back in time and tell someone from the 80s that machines can literally listen and talk back to us just like humans. The person would consider you a lunatic.
Over the last few decades, technology has evolved. Look around, the voice assistants sit in the corner and wait for the user’s commands, when prompted. Their genesis can be seen in the Siri, Alexa, Cortana, Watson, Pepper, and now Duplex. The smart speaker market is rapidly growing in every corner of the world and is poised to spread in the non-English-speaking countries.
According to a research firm, Allied Market Research, the global smart speaker market is expected to reach $23.32 billion by 2025, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23.4% from 2018 to 2025. The proliferation of smart home devices, surge demand for multifunctional devices, and the advent of 5G infrastructure have paved the way for the bright future of smart speakers.
The tech giants such as Amazon, Google, and Apple are investing big bucks in the advancement of natural language processing (NLP).
Era of Amazon, Google, and Apple
An array of companies has entered the smart speaker business to meet the demand boosted due to surged adoption of smart homes. Voice-enabled apps have become a part of daily lives and have changed the way the consumers interact with their brands. What’s more, Google recently announced the launch of its new Android app, Voice Access, to help people with mobility and motor impairments control their devices. Moreover, the app lets its users use their voice to tap buttons or adjust control and navigate within apps.
Amazon had the head start in the smart speaker business since the launch of Alexa in 2014. Apart from scaring away burglars and playing music for users, Amazon now wants to use Alexa to detect the user’s mood. According to numerous reports, the technology is still in its initial stage and it uses Alexa’s artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning algorithm, and so-called always-on microphone to listen to the user’s voice and the tech would recognize user’s mood. Amazon’s Echo device patiently waits for the cue word “Alexa” and records audio when it hears its name. As per the company, it has been aiming to develop a technology that helps those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.
While Amazon has been working on its “mood-detecting” technology, recently, Apple announced the launch of its HomePod smart speaker in Japan. Apple’s HomePod is regarded as a premium-priced product compared to the lower-end devices launched by Google and Amazon. Apple has been adding newer features to its flagship speaker such as recognizing the voices of multiple house members and serve them accordingly.
Moreover, the company is expected to bring down the prices of its smart speaker and open its doors to new markets. Thus, the company’s Japanese website announced the arrival of HomePod at ¥32,800 (just over $300). This would help the company to boost its business in Japan and offer a tough competition to the well-established market players such as Amazon, Line, and Google.
Emerging trends in smart speakers
The mass adoption of any technology is directly proportional to the development of humanized features. Voice detection is a tough job. There are uncountable accents as human beings have evolved. What’s more, we use slang and idioms in our conversations that baffle today’s voice recognition technology. The challenge is to understand and truly speaks like a human.
To define Google Assistant’s personality, Google hired Emma Coats, an ex-Pixar story artist. Moreover, Amazon held a competition to build a “socialbot” that could converse engagingly with humans on the trending topics for 20 minutes. This offers a glance about the possible future of smart speakers. The technology would use more machine learning algorithms and NLP to make it sound less like machines and more like humans.
People will move on from ordering toilet papers using smart speakers. With the upgrade of AI, smart speakers are expected to become the prime medium for online shopping. Shopping through speakers is still an early adopter activity and it is being accepted very slowly. However, in the future, smart speakers would become mainstream as people would feel more comfortable and develop trust with the technology.
Moreover, lifestyle revolving around smartphones is expected to fuel the demand for smart speakers. For instance, a sports fan watching a match on television can simply call its personal assistant to order food or people can set reminders to restoke groceries before they forget.
In short, convenience is the only key that could uplift the demand for smart speakers. If a mere command is sparing the time required for endless scrolling and double tapping, who wouldn’t opt for smart speakers?