CES 2018: voice everywhere

Smart kitchen, connected cars and robots… Too many connected objects, too little concern over data privacy

Snips team at CES 2018

Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant were stars of last year’s CES. In December 2017 Amazon reported its Echo Dot smart speaker and a built-in Alexa voice assistant to be #1 selling product across all categories over Christmas.

Voice assistants have again dominated this year’s CES. Google had the largest outdoor activation at CES spending more than $ 11M to promote its voice assistant. The discussions and product demonstrations we have seen prove that voice-controlled platforms and digital assistants are becoming part of mainstream.

What is really different from last year is that a vast number of connected devices on display throughout the show boasted claims “Now works with Google Assistant and/or Alexa”. In 2018 these are companies integrating Google and Amazon technologies that make the buzz: smart home and especially smart kitchen devices as well as robots were in abundance — there were too many of them to be able to test them all!

We have identified a huge problem however: by integrating Amazon or Google assistants, manufacturers simply put at risk their independence. In addition to losing control of their brands by forcing their users to trigger voice assistants saying “Alexa” or “OK Google”, they share all their user data, whether it’s what they say or what they do. Interestingly, from a purely consumer perspective there did not seem to be too much attention to data privacy. Fortunately, for large manufacturers we have met, privacy and GDPR compliance was a much bigger deal.

Our sales team pitching to Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Renault Nissan

There is still a big gap between consumers’ low interest in privacy and enterprise needs which are immediate. However, with all the data gathered by large US tech corporations it’s only a matter of time before end consumers will realise that their oven forces them to listen to an advertisement before they can actually start cooking their dinner!

Fortunately, there is an alternative solution: not to gather any data in the first place. Rather than sending user voice to the cloud, why not just treat it locally on the device? This would avoid problems of user consent, guarantee privacy and GDPR compliance, a concept that is called “Privacy by Design”.

This is what we do at Snips with the help of our own Data Generation solution. More than 6,000 developers have joined our platform, creating over 16,000 voice assistants! Their projects range from controlling lights to playing voice crosswords or teaching kids geometry. In addition, manufacturers will not be forced to change their products user experience as Snips allows hotword customisation.

Mounir Mahjoubi, French Secretary of State in charge of Digital Affairs, visiting Snips stand at CES 2018

We have seen a lot of interest in our technology from government officials as well. It is quite clear that data privacy has already become a question of state digital sovereignty. By making these technologies accessible in white label, we are able to give back the total control of user to European manufacturers rather than US tech giants.

We at Snips are very positive about 2018. Voice is clearly the future, it is only a matter of time big manufacturers bring new voice powered devices to the mass market. This means technology will become so deeply integrated in our lives and ourselves that we simply won’t notice it anymore.

It is time to seriously consider user data protection. We at Snips are working on a number of solutions that will help benefit from voice technology and guarantee privacy. And we cannot wait to share them with you. Stay tuned :)

If you enjoyed our takeaways from CES, hit recommend below and share it on twitter (we are at @snips)

If you liked this article and want to support Snips, please share it :)

If you want to join Snips team, check our jobs page!