Do you always encounter the following situations in your life: Wishing you could have an extra hand when you are in a hurry? Getting tired of taking notes as reminders? Do you feel like needing a considerate and knowledgeable assistant?
If so, you’ll probably consider having an Alexa, Siri or Cortana to solve these problems. It’s normal to ask who they are. Then the answer is: those are nicknames for systems of smart speakers, which are also referred to as voice-activated speakers or voice controlled speakers.
Artificial intelligence is reshaping human’s life in many aspects. Among them, smart speakers would be one of the most incredible inventions for daily life. Two of the digital giants GAFA have provided the leading products in this field, namely Amazon Echo from Amazon and Google Home from Google. Apple HomePod, Microsoft Cortana and Lenovo Smart Display alike all join this emerging competition. In general, these products enable voice recognition and voice interaction, featuring digital and life-oriented assistance in multiple domains.
1. Efficient information acquisition
One of the reasons that boost the popularity of these smart speakers would be people’s change of habits. They like getting things easier and faster. For example, whenever we need some information, we tend to use the internet and ‘Google it’, instead of looking up the knowledge in physical books. With growing technology, we are getting used to Siri.
Now some of us intensively use voice assistants such as Google Home and Alexa. More and more people prefer to get information from artificial intelligence products simply using their voices. As technologies continue to mature, the number of people using it is believed to increase. This is because voice-activated speakers can provide personalized, customized, and refined information services to improve user’s information acquisition efficiency.
2. Functional features
Smart speakers have been enabled artificial intelligent system and empowered with many third-party services. They can recognize voices of one or multiple users and help them deal with multitasking easily. It’s more than common to play music, read recipe, order food, set reminders, book taxis, find a route, check weather or traffic with these smart speakers at home.
Also, it’s available to make calls or purchases, connect to smart electronic appliances and control smart home devices without touching a screen or button. Your daily routine can’t be easier when you get used to this new tech with all-around services.
Each brand has focused on developing different versions and generations of products to adapt to various scenes. I’m not a user of any of these devices yet. But it seems to me that Alexa is preferable for home-use with the most friendly functions while Google Home is better for office-use by reading articles about comparisons.
3. Improving Happiness Index
Beside of bringing convenience to our lives more than ever, smart speakers can also help improve people’s happiness index. The accompany of smart devices can help people who live alone get away from loneliness to some degree. Because using such smart speakers just feels like talking to another human, according to Google’s research on how voice assistance is shaping consumer behavior.
In addition, machine and robust won’t judge as they have no emotion. Therefore, individuals claiming to have social anxiety disorder could feel more confident and comfortable talking to devices rather than human beings. These would explain the high percentage (68%) of smart speaker users who chat with their voice assistant for fun in a typical week.
In spite of the rapid development of voice-activated speakers, there are negative factors that affect their popularity. One reason might be that the products are not mature and attractive enough to compete with smart phones. Another main challenge is customer’s worries about losing their privacy.
Privacy Information Security
The fact is that losing privacy already happens every day whenever you use your laptop and mobile phone. Using Ad blockers and deleting cookies may help in preventing that from happening. However, a lot of us don’t bother to do or haven’t realized of these options. Besides, I’m afraid only the experts can make sure of the results of using such tools.
Google Chrome, Facebook, Youtube, Windows, microphone, camera and etc., all of these almost daily-used stuff can possibly steal your privacy once connected with internet. Some small tests have even been made to question whether Google can hear your voice even when it’s not open and then show relative ads automatically.
While facing many new technologies and services, are you willing to exchange for convenience in the cost of giving up some of your privacy? One of our professor of MADI has raised discussions on Amazon’s new services, which could be a related example because of its potential use of customer’s private data and preference.
All in all, it’s up to us to weigh the pros and cons of welcoming smart speakers to our life. However, it’s better to think twice about some basic questions before you try one. Do you fancy it? How important is convenience and safety for you? Is it necessary to buy considering the price? Does it speak your language? Are its third-party services working well in the country you live?
Last but not least, please feel free to leave us a comment. Share with us the real experience of having a smart speaker!