Smart House is Here

Disney’s 1999 Smart House movie gave us a glimpse of the future—an AI-powered house that catered to the family’s every need, from cooking to cleaning the house. Although that wasn’t an exact prediction of our future, we are moving toward a connected home filled with smart devices that make our tasks easier and faster. Google’s smart home arm, Google Nest, offers an impressive array of products, including thermostats, doorbells, cameras, alarms, locks, and smoke alarms that work in tandem with each other to create seamless experiences controlled from one place. As we move toward a true smart home, it’s easy to picture how security and alarm services traditionally provided by other companies might be folded into the realm of tech companies. However, this only strengthens the debate on the concerns about AI and privacy. Also this week, Cerence reads the news to you and Alexa debuts Starfinder.

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Nest to the Rescue

No need to rely on your baseball bat to fend off unwanted visitors during the night. Google invested $450M in ADT, the security alarm systems company. In this partnership, ADT technicians will sell and install Nest smart home devices, with Nest becoming a core aspect of ADT’s smart home business. This feature was prematurely unveiled when a Reddit user discovered that Google Home heard his smoke alarm (not a known “wake word” or “wake sound”), revealing this accidental update that was possibly related to the ADT news. With more Nest smart devices calling the shots in the smart home, Google might be the head of the household now. More on TechCrunch

Talk Human to Me

Cerence may be your new car companion on your morning commute. The voice and AI company for cars introduced its new synthetic voice, Cerence Reader, to read you news from Reuters and other sources while you drive. Neural text-to-speech gives the voice a human-like quality through natural pausing, breathing, emotions, and different tones for contentstudies show that people prefer human-like voices when listening to longer content. As more car brands develop in-car personal assistants and in-car voice technology usage grows, this new voice came along for the ride at the right time. More on Voicebot.ai

Amazon Has Come to Play

Tired of playing Animal Crossing for the last five months? Amazon launched Starfinder, an interactive game on Alexa featuring famous voice actors Laura Bailey and Nathan Fillion. Starfinder was originally a tabletop role-playing game, but Amazon and Paizo collaborated to create the Alexa skill. This six-episode season brings you to a science fantasy world full of space creatures and doomsday scenarios, resulting in nearly 13 total hours of gameplay. If you’re itching to take a low-risk adventure, look no further than your Alexa. More on VentureBeat

Stats Don’t Lie

25% of digital workers will use a virtual employee assistant on a daily basis by 2021, up from less than 2% in 2019. (data via Gartner Research)

$1B the number that US podcast spending will cross in 2021. (data via eMarketer)

Chart of the Week

2020 Voice Assistant Installed Base
(TechCrunch)

 

WTF is the future of voice?

Our CEO, Nithya Thadani, will be speaking at The Information’s 2020 WTF Summit—a conference for women in tech, media, and finance—on September 9-10. If you’re interested in hearing more about what’s next for voice, you can buy tickets here before the August 31 deadline.