Fall: New Products and New Beginnings

Amazon’s annual fall hardware event unveils its latest collection of smart products. In 2019, the newest Echo smart speakers along with Echo Buds, Echo Frames, Echo Loop, Alexa Smart Oven, and more made their first appearances to the public, inching toward an integrated Alexa-enabled ecosystem. Last week’s annual hardware event advanced this vision even further. The arrival of revamped smart speakers, smart security appliances for the home and car, a cloud gaming program, and assistants customized for children and the elderly is a progression in the company’s “ambient home” strategy, also supported by Project Connected Home over IP and its Interoperability Initiative. But as updated features and new security products are introduced, many remain concerned over just how far Amazon is willing to go to be ingrained in our lives.

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Amazon Gets the Ball Rolling

With a redesigned spherical appearance, the Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Dot with Clock, and Echo Dot Kids include Dolby processing, Zigby support, Amazon Sidewalk functionality, and Amazon’s new AZ1 Neural Processor that improves the voice tech to be faster and more energy-efficient. In addition to the new Echo, Amazon released an array of impressive products: the Echo Show 10 with a motorized base and Netflix support, the Luna cloud gaming service with a controller, a Ring home security drone, a new Fire TV stick, new Eero routers, a Ring car security camera and alarm, Alexa Guard Plus, and Care Hub. These new additions and smarter Alexa technology are solid advances to an Amazon-powered connected home. More on The Verge

Please Hold

Observe.ai, an AI startup that analyzes call center conversations to improve customer service, raised $54 million in Series B funding. The company transcribes speech to detect silences and emotions, providing valuable insight into how employees approach customer interactions. With increased volume of calls due to the rise in use of certain services over the last months, call centers are deploying analysis tech to streamline their operations, enabling efficient and pleasant experiences that build quality conversations. As more competitors including Replicant, CallMiner, and Google enter the space, call center voice technology is rife with potential. More on Voicebot.ai

And You’re Watching Disney Channel

Google announced a new feature that allows voice commands to play Disney Plus on Nest Hub and Nest Hub Max smart displays. Once customers link their Disney Plus subscriptions to the Assistant app, they can say, “Hey Google, Play The Mandalorian on Disney Plus” to start watching. This year, Zoom and Netflix also integrated with smart displays, showing just how these services are betting on these devices for more reach. As these smart displays emerge as alternative platforms of viewing content in rooms that lack TVs, companies are developing holistic voice strategies that encompass all smart devices. More on CNET

Stats Don’t Lie   

53% of people said that a smart speaker advertisement drove them to purchase later, up from 39% in 2019. (data via MediaPost)

$86 Billion The value that in-vehicle payments is expected to reach in 2025, up from $543 million in 2020. (data via Juniper Research)

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The Rise of Branded Wake Words

On our blog, guest writer and Sensory CEO Todd Mozer explores the resurgence of branded wake words. As brands seek to take control of their voice experiences from mainstream voice assistants, branded wake words offer a customized way to build deeper relationships with consumers. Read more here.