Simply put, a voice or smart home assistant is a piece of software that communicates to the user audibly, and responds to spoken commands. It’s technology like Google Home, Siri and Alexa that can be used to literally talk to a computer, a smartphone, or another device.
These assistants are becoming more and more popular as the technology grows in sophistication and intelligence. According to ComScore, by 2020, 50% of all searches will be done by voice!
Voice assistant control is being welcomed into connected homes across the globe, as people are taking to purchasing voice assistants and smart tech in larger and larger numbers. One of the recent top trends of the smart tech world has been the further integration of devices with these leading voice assistants. From smart light bulbs to smart solar to smart toilets, it’s clear that the people are excited about being able to communicate and control their home.
Similarly, as the devices continue to be produced, the market sees great promise in devices you can speak to, combined with home devices you can control.
Therefore, these assistants are becoming viewed as the linchpin of smart home technology, as they are often the face of the multiple devices and brands that make up a smart home. You might have a lot of different brands of technology in your home, but you may only need to communicate with one: your voice assistant.
Voice assistants have been around for longer than you might expect! It comes down to how you define a voice assistants, but the tech definitely didn’t begin the launch of Amazon Echo, Siri or Google Home. In 1961, IBM introduced the IBM Showbox, which is viewed as the first digital speech recognition tool. Sure it only understood 16 words, but this was well over fifty years ago!
Microsoft launched it’s first speech recognition feature for Office XP in 2001, followed 10 years later by Apple’s introduction of Siri on April 14, 2011. This was followed again in 2014 by Microsoft’s digital personal assistant, Cortana. Technavio reports that by 2019, the voice recognition market will be a $601 million industry and Activate estimates there will be 21.4 million smart speakers by 2020.
There are several types of voice assistants, but here are the main players!
Amazon launched the smart speaker, Amazon Echo, in 2014. The device could play music, create to-do lists, set alarms, play audiobooks, control smart devices, and provide real-time information like weather and traffic — all through voice commands.
Apple came in first with Siri, before the idea of voice recognition really exploded. Despite starting off with iPhones, it’s now not only available for mobile devices like Android, iOS and Windows Phone, it’s also integrated into software products like Microsoft Windows and car technology. Apple jumped into the smart speaker market that is already led by Amazon and Google by announcing HomePod, which just became available.
One of the main reasons that Google Home has been successful is because Google already has access to a variety of data sets, like maps, shopping and content.
A critical factor in Google Home’s success is that Google already knows so much about its users. Its search capability and voice control is also superior. Moreover, with Chromecast Audio, users can stream the same song or podcast to speakers in different rooms simultaneously using voice commands — a feature that Alexa doesn’t have.
So what can these voice assistants actually do? Well it differs per assistant, and it also can depend on what those assistants are actually connected to.
You may use your voice assistant to perform simple tasks like playing music or turning on lights; however, there’s so much more that it can do. Take into consideration that Google Home alone has over 200 third party skills, so there’s a myriad of commands you can learn to engage with the voice assistant in your home or phone.
Make the house able to listen.
By installing a smart hub that talks to your voice assistant, you can manage your Smart Home with your voice by controlling your compatible home automation devices. The ecosystem is expanding all the time, with more and more devices.
Home automation with IoT has been a growing market as well. IoT based home products and services include not only voice assistants, but things like intelligent energy management systens, smart solar, smart door locks, thermotstates and appliance and light controls. Even devices that allow you to control home electronics from anywhere!
Take Google Home as an example. You can unlock Google Home’s hidden potential, by pairing your Google Home with carbonTRACK. As you connect carbonTRACK to your lights, appliances, pool pump and more, you can speak to Google Home to control these items, and Google Home then speaks to carbonTRACK.
By simply saying:
“Ok Google, turn on the lounge room lamp”
Gooogle Home will ask carbonTRACK to turn on your lounge room lamp, which will immediately respond. You can use Google Home with carbonTRACK to control a wide range of connected appliances – anything you connect through a smart plug.
You can also use with carbonTRACK to control circuit-level switches, like your pool pump or hot water system. Google Home with carbonTRACK can be similarly be utilised to verbally check on your electricity bill, so you know exactly how much energy you’ve used for that month, when you’re using it.