The New World of Smart Devices
When we at gigaaa send out our first technology information and system we have developed, most business partners expect to read about voice assistant and “voice first” services. But we have put the focus on something else. It´s smart devices because with gigaaa any device becomes smart. With the introduction of smartphones and graphical user interfaces in 2007 by Apple, Internet access moved within a couple of years into the pocket of every Internet user. Changes in life and the global economy were bigger than ever before. Leading companies around the world immediately announced the “Mobile First” strategy. But that is nothing compared to what we will see the coming years. The biggest upheavals in the history of mankind are coming with Voice User Interfaces and AI Personal Assistants. And that is because instead of having one smart device called smartphone, you will speak to billions of devices and all of them will be smarter than anything you can imagine today. Like the kids today, when they see a screen they start touching it because they just assume it’s a touchscreen. The next generation will walk up to devices and just start talking to them. And if it doesn’t respond, people will think it´s broken. This sounds crazy to you? Well, then you should see the number of voice-enabled devices Amazon and Google Assistant have presented at the CES in Las Vegas last week. Amazon’s Alexa booth at last week’s CES tech show in Las Vegas showed one big picture: If electricity runs through it, it can work with the Alexa voice assistant. Telling this a song from Seal comes to my mind also called crazy when he sings:
“But we’re never gonna survive, unless
We get a little crazy
No we’re never gonna survive, unless
We are a little crazy” 😊
But before we get there companies will need to convince a lot more people, they need Alexa, which dominates the smart speaker market worldwide. As of now, 32 percent of Americans own a smart speaker, which is massive growth from virtually zero just four years ago when Amazon’s Echo speaker and Alexa first launched. But it’s far from ubiquitous. And as Alexa pushes deeper into the mainstream market, it may face resistance from customers who don’t want to talk to their machines, don’t see a point to voice assistants or don’t trust tech companies enough to plug in devices with always-on microphones. Amazon’s plans for the digital assistant is making Alexa a default feature in billions of new devices and appliances. Today the company shows alarm clocks, loudspeakers, microwaves, laptops, pet feeders and a bunch of other items that work with the voice assistant. But there really isn’t a clear value proposition that jumps out, that killer product that you just say, man, I’ve got to have this. But what you could also see at the CES in Las Vegas, is that the competition is catching up to Amazon, with some analysts predicting Google will eventually steal its crown. Google, currently the №2 player in smart speakers, crammed its assistant into a long list of new products, including a KitchenAid smart display, a Gourmia multicooker, and a Moen smart shower. All these new products show how aggressive the search giant plans to be this year in shaking up the voice hierarchy. Samsung’s Bixby, Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana are much smaller players in the digital assistant battle and it’s great to see all the energy and activity and investment from lots of companies, because It drives awareness with customers, it drives credibility, it drives the interest in people to learn more about it.
Amazon used CES to tout its leadership in voice, saying there are now more than 28,000 smart home devices from more than 4,500 brands that work with Alexa. That’s up from over 20,000 and 3,500, since September. Also, more than 150 products now have Alexa built in, including headphones, thermostats, PCs, cars and light switches. Google said it’s also working on making its assistant more conversational and said it expanded to 80 countries in 2018, up from 14 the year earlier. Worldwide, Alexa is in about 51 million smart speakers, while Google is in about 24 million, according to IHS Markit. But thanks to the global popularity of Google’s Android operating system, Google is expected to overtake Amazon by 2023, according to researchers at both Canalys and IHS Markit. Granted, four years is a very long time in the tech industry, so a lot could happen before then. As Amazon fights to remain the market leader, its push to bring Alexa to even more products may start to become a liability. Amazon and Google are encouraging more hardware makers to build stuff for Alexa and Google Assistant, ensuring that the voice assistant keeps expanding rapidly this year. And to give you a better picture of what happens in the device market, Amazon came out with about a dozen new products last fall, but its Alexa partners came out with 100. And that is just the beginning!
Privacy, Security and Setup
As Alexa and Google Assistant continue to grow, they will need to prove that they care about data privacy and security. And it’s not going to work if they don’t get those right. Voice is the legitimate new platform, and all the companies want to enter this field. Data privacy and security have always been fundamental to gigaaa and that´s our chance to offer companies and customers the better alternative. Another feature to ease more people into the smart assistant world, it is necessary to develop products that offer a simple set up at home, getting rid of a major headache to get smart home devices up and running, like a Wi-Fi Simple Setup. Easy, easy like Sunday morning. Do you know the song from Lionel Ritchie? One of the best songs ever when he sings:
“Oh that’s why I’m easy, I’m easy like Sunday morning yeah
That’s why I’m easy, I’m easy like Sunday morning” 😊
New Skills and Better Services
After all, Amazon has created thousands of places for Alexa to live, but those devices aren’t worth much without useful smart software from independent developers. That´s why Amazon will begin to offer Alexa developer certification courses, complete with an exam. Those who pass get the developer equivalent of a blue “verified” checkmark on their CV. Amazon’s work now is to draw in more Alexa developers.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are the hot topics and enterprises must build an “AI strategy”, today we’re already finding that more and more are moving away from the hype and into solving real-world problems. We will see the focus shift from AI to ‘AI-driven’ results as companies look for real business impact from AI tools. The technology will be less important than the business insights it delivers. For example, while most takeout and catering orders happen via mobile, people still prefer placing their orders with a phone call. That could turn into a new opportunity for Alexa, which can already take orders for Domino’s, Denny’s and Starbucks. Google is also working in this area, creating human-like bot called Duplex that can make appointments and reservations on your behalf. Smart devices in combination with Artificial Intelligence will make it possible to remotely monitor our health and automatically suggest lifestyle changes that could help prevent diseases or spot them at the onset when they are much more treatable. We will see devices reminding us to hit our daily steps or diabetes technologies monitoring our blood sugar, but this is just the beginning. We’ll see an increase in voice-enabled health devices hitting the market that use AI to track a vast number of conditions. That´s where gigaaa has another chance to offer better services in collaboration with developers and companies to make the gigaaa assistant user experience smarter, simpler and more fun to use. Yes, there is plenty of opportunities for gigaaa. For some reasons a song from the Pet Shop Boys comes to my mind called Being Boring when they sing:
“Cause we were never being boring, We had too much time to find for ourselves
And we were never being boring, We dressed up and fought, then thought: Make amends
And we were never holding back or worried that Time would come to an end” 😊
I was supposed to talk about how your gigaaa AI assistant will help you to get the biggest possible benefit out of the connected world to make your life better and more fun. But after so many talks last days with companies that want to build voice-enabled devices with us, I just felt inspired to talk about the future world of connected devices today. Hope you like it and get a better understanding of how fast our everyday life will change soon.
Have a great time and see you next week.
“Life is gigaaa!”