Will voice assistants like Alexa, Siri dominate the smart home?

  • AI-powered voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa have taken off as more people spend more time indoors
  • Could these virtual assistants next help control the entire smart home?

2021 is starting to feel a lot like 2020, with many areas still requiring self-isolation and work-from-home orders, meaning people are spending more time at home than ever before. It’s given individuals the time and the opportunity to invest in home upgrades, with voice virtual assistants becoming some of the holiday season’s most sought-after smart home gear.

Voice assistants dedicated to kit out smart homes like Amazon’s Alexa are not as pervasive yet in some countries as voice assistants that are embedded in our mobile devices like Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant, and Samsung Bixby. There is still some way to go before voice assistants become as ubiquitous in certain countries as they have in the US.

Today 53 million individuals in the US own at least one AI-powered virtual assistant. The number of voice assistants in American homes has multiplied since 2017 to 25 million units, and is projected to increase to 275 million by 2023. That adds up to 1,000% growth in just five years, as indicated by Juniper Research.

Voice assistants have been harnessing artificial intelligence to help us find things in our devices that we were lazy to search ourselves for some years now, but when reaching out via the Internet of Things (IoT) to connect with internet-capable homes, they have the core functionality to become integral links to every other smart device on the premises.

Virtual enablers like Alexa have the potential to become the key connector, activated by vocals instead of some sort of graphic interface, that can make sci-fi smart home dreams a reality. Imagine turning on the lights or the television using voice commands, just like how Alexa already connects with Echo smart speakers.

The untapped IoT promise of voice assistants to interconnect smart devices within a given space, is part of the reason why the voice assistant market is expected to be worth US$7.8 billion by 2023.

What does it mean for businesses?

Business users have already been able to create apps from blueprints to do things like book conference rooms, connect to meetings, and access corporate data through smart speakers. But now, Amazon has just revealed that it is opening up the tech behind Alexa’s voice assistant system to enable businesses to build their own automated versions in other software and devices.

Automaker Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will be the first customer to use the product Alexa Custom Assistant, which will allow businesses to create their own intelligent systems with unique voices, skills, and ‘wake’ words.

In-car infotainment systems are a logical new revenue stream for voice assistants, and the Alexa Custom Assistant will allow carmakers to leverage voice activations alongside new technologies like augmented reality and gesture controls, to enhance natural and safe interactions with vehicle controls and infotainment systems.

Amazon says Alexa Custom Assistant can be used to build intelligent assistants into mobile applications, smart properties, video games, and consumer electronics.

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