Beyond the Driver’s Seat

As voice starts to become a staple in the car, we’ve discussed the potential of features beyond navigation and in-car controls. Now, this expansion is catching on as many automakers turn to voice assistance as a differentiation point. The latest integration between Fiat and Google shows off another side of voice-integrated assistance — remote control. Features enabling tasks in the car are valuable, but once drivers are away from their vehicles, they may want to remain connected and check on things like parking location, gas levels, and more. Google is one of the first companies we’ve seen to focus on this aspect of the driver experience. We expect to see more updates like this as brands start to build their own auto ecosystems that extend beyond the driver’s seat.

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Fiat x Google

Fiat released its new Fiat 500 family of Google-branded cars. Not only do the vehicles sport the company’s colors and include “Hey Google” badges and tags, but they also incorporate 7-inch touchscreens integrated with Google Assistant. However, what stands out about the cars is the driver’s ability to control features remotely via voice commands. Customers can use the “My Fiat” Action on their phones or Nest Hubs to retrieve information on gas levels, car locks, parking location, location of the nearest authorized service station, and more. Although this partnership focuses on the cars’ Google features, the remote control capabilities highlight how voice can play a bigger role in the smart ecosystem. More on CNBC

Siri Embraces Inclusivity

Apple’s voice assistant Siri is adding two new English voices and is removing the default female voice for users. With this addition, Apple customers have to choose what voice they prefer during the setup process. In the last few years, conversation on how voice assistants reinforce gender biases and stereotypes has been discussed widely. But now there is more momentum as companies take action to make tech more inclusive — in December, Accenture and Cereproc introduced the first non-binary voice assistant. This new Siri offering marks the first move by a major tech company to dismantle the default female voice, but we will see if Amazon and Google follow suit in the future. More on TechCrunch

Voice-Enabled Video Editing

Video editing startup InVideo joked on April Fool’s Day that it introduced its Intelligent Video Assistant for its editing platform. For the imaginary assistant, customers can use voice commands to start projects, add music and text, and more, and the software will also remember their most-used colors and fonts for easy addition via voice. Additionally, the Intelligent Video Assistant supposedly learns from the project’s keywords and features to provide suggestions related to templates or audio. Although the assistant isn’t real, the use case shows the utility of leveraging voice to streamline the use of software programs that have countless controls and features. Ultimately, InVideo hopes that it will become a reality in the future.

Emerging Tech Stories

  • The Spectacles’ Comeback. Snapchat is rumored to release a new pair of its Spectacles that will be AR-enabled and can be used without a phone.
  • Social Audio Craze. With the meteoric rise in popularity of Clubhouse, Slack and LinkedIn are now testing their own social audio features.
  • Alexa Enters Luxury. Lamborghini’s Alexa-enabled Hurucán EVO car allows drivers to use voice commands to control the car’s climate and comfort settings.

Stats Don’t Lie

48% of companies currently have a voice strategy. Of those that don’t have a voice strategy, 52% said it is something that will be considered in the next 5 years. (via Speechmatics)

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Efficiency at the Speed of Sound

The adoption rate for voice tech in consumers’ lives is even steeper than mobile, and it’s beginning to permeate our work lives too. Employees doing repetitive, routine tasks on the job are starting to ask themselves, “I know what I want the system to do, why can’t I just ask?” or “why am I writing data points down on the job site, then entering them into a spreadsheet back at the office?”. Read our thoughts on why for enterprises, voice is no longer an “if” — it’s a “how.”

Read more here.