Voice control technology: a key feature of smart homes
Internet giants see the smart home as the future of technology, though for it to be a success virtual home assistants must be compatible and work with all the other smart devices that form part of our everyday lives.
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Though smart homes have been a topic of discussion for years now, they will only become an everyday fact of life if the smart objects vying for the attention of consumers are able to get along with one another.
It is that objective that the giants of technology are working towards, as Curt Schacker, Senior VP Connected Systems at smart products platform Evrythng explained: “We need to look at problems in the home from a holistic perspective and realise it is the value of all these devices working together that will drive adoption of the smart home.”
Google Home versus Amazon Echo
The smart home is generating renewed interest, with heavyweights such as Google, Amazon and Apple manoeuvring themselves in a bid to gain the upper hand in the voice control market. Google made its first move a few months ago, unveiling Google Home, a device that combines a voice-controlled virtual home assistant with artificial intelligence and which can control other objects in the home, carry out a range of services and respond to questions.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai lauded the gadget’s ability to understand and react to conversations in a natural language, an attribute that he said puts it “far ahead of what other virtual assistants can do”. Google Home has now positioned itself as a competitor to the Echo smart speaker, which also features a voice-controlled personal assistant, by the name of Alexa.
And the voice said…
In the opinion of Amazon Echo chief evangelist David Isbitski, “voice will be everywhere” in a few years time and in every single interaction with technology. Isbitski foresees a future in which, not unlike a sci-fi movie, people will utter commands and machines will respond to and obey them thanks to artificial intelligence. Discussing the capabilities of Alexa’s software, he said it is compatible with anything, “from a lawn sprinkler to a ceiling fan”.
A section at Amazon’s online store is devoted to smart objects that work with Alexa and also invites developers to teach the software new skills. Last year, Amazon also set up a $100m fund to provide venture capital to innovators working on technologies that use Alexa. For its part, Apple is trying to lure developers with a platform entitled HomeKit, which enables use of the company’s devices and the Siri virtual assistant to manage smart devices.
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