First, there was Siri – now, the universe welcomes digital voice assistants. The swell of internet-connected devices, like smart thermostats and home assistants, is bringing even more utility to a connected consumer’s life. Siri was just early to the artificial-intelligence party back in 2011.
According to Business Insider’s recently updated data report compiled in March 2017, 65 percent of U.S. smartphone owners were utilizing voice assistants in 2015, a significant jump from a mere 30 percent just two years earlier. This raises the question: Why are consumers flocking to speaker-based voice assistants such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant? The top perceived benefit of smart home voice assistants is having hands-free control over the home. (Think busy parent, home after a long day with kids in tow, telling their house to turn on the lights and the kid’s favorite TV show … 21st century bliss!). Next is the futuristic euphoria of having an A.I. assistant in an ambient form.
While the devices housing the assistants — such as the Amazon Echo (which incorporates Alexa) and Google Home (which uses Google Assistant) — are perceived by many consumers to be on the expensive side, consumer behavior and habits are leading to growing usage, due in part to early adoption by younger consumers. That is not to say, however, that these products will see mass adoption anytime soon — both technological challenges and societal hurdles persist.
For example, while Alexa offers an industry-best 10,000 skills (available apps that can be added), that number pales in comparison to the App Store and Google Play, which count their offerings in the millions, according to Wired. In addition, having a voice-first search model can make finding the exact skill one craves inherently difficult. We’ve all experienced the pain of screaming instructions into our smartphones only to have our voice assistants let us down with an off-the-mark response. This creates potential frustrations for the customer, as well as for developers, who don’t necessarily see a return on the invested time spent creating a “skill” in the first place.
While artificial intelligence has an obvious impact on the way people communicate and search, Retail Week also weighs in on how these voice assistants are changing the retail industry. Accenture explains that the industry that stands to be most disrupted by the rise of voice technology is the grocery sector. This is because these smart devices allow users the ability to inquire about dietary concerns and recipes, then immediately order household essentials — eliminating the need to make that post-workday trip to the grocery store. Retail is already feeling the pain of this thanks to the on-demand nature of most online ecommerce sites; A.I. has the potential to add insult to injury.
From the control of smart accessories in your home to providing extra security for your family, a digital voice assistant can provide you with more than an endless playlist of music and trivial facts. The combination of ease, safety and time savings provided by these voice assistants is, undoubtedly, the future. Yes, this is just the beginning of smart homes and artificial-intelligence integration, but consumers are taking a conservative approach to adoption. Potential consumers will have to balance the ways in which voice assistants will positively shape the communication of the future with the expense of these devices to position them to be truly valuable rather than just a novelty.
When the time comes to introduce a smart home assistant to your list of connected devices, FTC is there for you and your family. Contact us regarding your upgraded data needs at 888-218-5050.