Voice on Voice: The Intimate Interface
Google Builds Its Voice Nest
The big news last week in voice was around Google’s latest product event. As expected, Assistant is continuing to play a larger role in everything they are creating, but there was a significant emphasis on the Nest product line and their push into the smart home space (more on this below). Meanwhile, Amazon continues to expand Alexa’s capabilities, opening up voice payments for utilities in India through Amazon Pay. And finally, we have a voice technology innovation being produced by University of Washington researchers that positions smart speakers as baby breathing monitors. It seems the more we acclimate to voice, the more use cases arise, from paying the electric bill to looking after our children.
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Google’s Ecosystem Play
Last week, Google hosted their annual Made by Google product launch event to share their newest lineup. Along with a hearable earbud announcement and a new Pixel phone, the big reveal was their expansion of the Nest product line to cover smart home devices including speakers, internet routers and cloud services. While Apple has long been the standard for getting consumers to purchase multiple devices for their home, Google is now leveraging the Nest brand to create a foundational set of connected products at a compelling price point for consumers. Assistant continues to be a major point of emphasis and is prominent in all their new devices. More on Voicebot.
Amazon has expanded their Amazon Pay presence in India significantly, now allowing users there to manage and pay their utilities through the service and with Alexa. According to TechCrunch, “this is the first time the American company is letting users pay their electricity, water, cooking gas, broadband and satellite TV bills with voice and Amazon Pay.” Amazon has been promoting Amazon Pay heavily this past year and targeted India as a growth market for the technology given the country’s high adoption rate of mobile payment services. They hope that opening up the payment service to be accessible through Alexa will make it even easier for customers to use. More on TechCrunch.com.
Alexa, Check on the Baby
Researchers from the University of Washington have created a smart speaker application to help monitor sleeping babies. The application, called BreathJunior, “plays the [white] noise from the device and then records how it is reflected, in order to detect the tiny motions made by infants’ chests as they breathe. It can also pick up the sound of crying.” The technology aims to help assist nervous parents and utilize smart speakers to provide a simple monitoring system to ease concerns. The voice app has currently been tested on 5 children and will be trialed more broadly later this week. More on MIT Technology Review.
Stats Don’t Lie
$179 – Google Pixel Buds Price Point, vs. $129 Amazon Echo Buds and $159 for Apple’s AirPods. (data via Voicebot)
64% – Adults interested in “order by voice” capability for restaurants. (data via BizInsights)
Chart of the Week