Voice Takes on Fast Food

The QSR drive-thru is the ideal environment for voice: with employees repeating the same tasks and constantly communicating with one another, voice AI can automate these functions and provide information instantly. Major chains like White Castle and McDonald’s (which acquired voice ordering startup Apprente in 2019) are already piloting voice-enabled drive-thrus at several of their locations. In Spain last year, McDonald’s even installed kiosks where customers can order with voice commands. This week, Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken leveraged its own assistant at the drive-thru. As long wait times continue to remain significant pain points for customers and employees alike, restaurants are exploring new ways to eliminate this friction. However, these voice experiences must balance promoting efficiency with ease of use.

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Would You Like Fries With That?

Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken restaurant introduced a voice assistant built by the Israeli startup Hi Auto. The Intel-powered assistant can take orders, answer questions about the menu, suggest items, and transfer customers to an employee if needed. Additionally, employees’ headsets are integrated with the tech so they can update the assistant with inventory levels. The tech also has the ability to increase sales because it upsells to 60% of customers (compared to the human upsell rate that ranges between 5-15%) and succeeds 20% of the time. As QSR restaurants look to drive efficiency, voice technology can help alleviate the burden off of employees and provide quicker service. More on Voicebot.ai

DIY Voice

Spokestack released its Spokestack Maker tool that allows creators to use their own voice to create voice-enabled software. Users can train their own wake words, keywords, and text-to-speech models with their own recordings. This new tool aims to allow all developers, regardless of their expertise in voice technology, to easily access software that can help them incorporate voice AI into their own projects or prototypes. Ultimately, easily accessible programs like these can help solidify voice as another interface developers can leverage for applications. More on Spokestack

Powering Up

Google Assistant is adding a new selection of features to improve its presence on mobile. First, customers will soon have the ability to use the Assistant to turn off phones running on Android 12 by saying “Power off.” Second, the company is rumored to be bringing back “What’s on my screen.” The feature, previously available on the Assistant’s UI, provided information relevant to whatever users were viewing (i.e. if they were viewing an article on a computer review, the feature would bring up Google results for the computer). These updates, paired with Memory and other recent developments, position the Assistant to provide even broader utility for any task. More on XDA Developers & Droid Life

Emerging Tech Stories

  • Desktop Chat. Twitter is introducing its social audio rooms Spaces to the desktop.
  • Headless Commerce. Commerce Layer, which allows customers to build wearable and voice applications for e-commerce, raised $16 million.
  • Smart Workout. Apple’s new AirPods Pro for 2022 will include motion sensors for fitness tracking.

By The Numbers

77 million The projected number of homes with smart devices in 2025.
(
data via Statista)

58% of moms that own smart speakers have two or more speakers in their household. (data via Edison Research & Triton Digital)

Unlocking the Voice-Enabled Construction Site

The multimillion dollar construction industry is plagued by a $1.6 trillion productivity gap exacerbated by miscommunication and issues with data access. Although advanced project management platforms have been introduced, most software companies have yet to leverage voice tech, leaving the opportunity for speech-driven data input and retrieval capabilities to transform productivity on the jobsite.

Read more here.