Healthcare’s Voice Gets Louder

Continuing the trend of voice technology company acquisitions the past few months, Microsoft has made waves last week through its agreement to acquire Nuance Communications. Voice assistants for healthcare have been some of the earliest custom assistants (think Saykara, Robin Healthcare, and more) because of their use of private information and purpose-built features. Doctors burdened with administrative work can easily record patient data or ask for information without diverting attention away from their patients. As a result, voice tech can drive efficiencies for employees while also enhancing patient care. This, coupled with Microsoft’s existing Azure cloud services (which Nuance’s medical voice assistant is built on), will help the company provide voice-driven AI solutions for healthcare professionals.

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Microsoft x Nuance

Microsoft has agreed to acquire conversational AI company Nuance Communications for $19.7 billion. Big tech has been eyeing healthcare for a while, and Microsoft’s new purchase underscores its mission to provide advanced software to practitioners. Nuance has a multitude of software offerings, but its voice solutions include an assistant that allows doctors to input and retrieve patient data through commands and self-service voice and IVR customer experience solutions. With the purchase, Microsoft is strengthening its conversational AI capabilities and its access to real-time insights gleaned from voice. More on Microsoft

Apple’s Smart Home Vision

Apple is rumored to be developing two new devices: a device that fuses the Apple TV box and a HomePod speaker, and a smart display. The hybrid TV set-top box and speaker would connect to a television and have Siri capabilities and a camera for video conferencing. Additionally, the smart display would mimic Amazon’s Echo Show and the Google Nest Hub with the possibility of being attached to a robotic arm that follows users’ movements. Apple’s smart home ecosystem falls behind those of Amazon and Google, so these additions are major efforts to propel the company forward and strengthen Siri’s ecosystem. More on Bloomberg

Echo Buds Revamped

Amazon released its second generation of Echo Buds. The revamped earbuds are smaller to fit more comfortably inside the ears, and they also integrate noise cancellation technology. Listeners can turn noise cancellation on and off by touching the device or asking Alexa. Although these new earbuds compete with Apple’s popular AirPods, Amazon’s investment in the product is indicative of its goal to make Alexa an on-the-go presence for completing tasks like playing music, making calls, and making to-do lists. More on Voicebot.ai

Emerging Tech Stories

  • Assistant Updates. Google Assistant’s new updates include filling out information for food pickup, enabling sunrise and sunset routines, finding your phone, and more.
  • AI Regulation. The European Union is considering the regulation of prohibited use cases of artificial intelligence through fines of up to 4% of global annual turnover. 
  • Warehouse Robots. Softbank acquired a 40% stake in AutoStore, a robotics software company that is deploying hardware to automate order fulfillment processes.

Stats Don’t Lie

35% of US adults owned a smart speaker in January 2021. (data via Voicebot.ai)

34% of voice tech users use voice commands daily for shopping apps.
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data via eMarketer)

5 Steps to Getting Your Voice-Enabled Store Off the Ground

Brick-and-mortar shopping isn’t going away — it’s being transformed to improve in-store operational efficiency and deliver superior customer experience. As stores look to voice tech to augment the employee experience, they’ll have to drive meaningful adoption with reliable solutions. Here are the five steps to follow to rapidly build, test, and scale voice solutions.

Read more here.