Three different stories this week all revolve around the notion of control. Google’s providing more of it to Assistant users as regards wake word sensitivity. Apple’s looking to put more of it into Siri’s hands inside the car. And the Pentagram designers behind the Yoto smart speaker want to give it back to parents who seek a “less is more” experience for their kids.

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Sensitive Settings 

Based on code discovered in the latest Google application, 9to5Google has shared the company’s plans to incorporate “hotword sensitivity” settings for Assistant devices. This new feature is intended to reduce unintentional wake word activations and would allow users to control how responsive Google Assistant should be when listening for its wake word. With many smart speaker users reporting inadvertent activations, this is a smart move by Google to develop a system where users can set preferences around sensitivity.  More on 9to5Google.

Siri, Take the Wheel 

It’s been reported that Apple is seeking a patent for “a new technology that would allow you to use voice commands to tell your self-driving car where you want to go, with the car doing the navigation, driving, and parking for you.” The voice technology described within the patent application suggests a sophisticated system that would be connected to the vehicle controls and be capable of processing broad queries into specific navigation assistance. Apple has recently been active in the acquisition space, purchasing, which may play a role in their future autonomous vehicle aspirations. More on Digital Trends.

“No cam. No mic. No funny business.” 

A new smart audio device for kids is now available for pre-order: the Yoto player. The speaker was developed with privacy and non-screen engagement in mind. The device requires users to insert physical cards which are mapped to trigger audio content. Parents can also create their own cards and content mappings using an app. According to Fast Company, “the cards work using NFC technology, like a contactless credit card, that link to content stored on Yoto’s servers.” While this is yet another smart speaker device entering the market, the Yoto player represents a unique positioning towards kids born out of a desire to limit screen time and protect privacy. More on Fast Company.

Stats Don’t Lie

2.6 – Smart speakers owned on average by U.S. households (data via NPR and Edison Research)

26  – New additions to Amazon’s Alexa Champions program. (data via Voicebot)

Chart of the Week

Google Assistant Action Growth
(Voicebot AI)