The Everything Interface

In conversation with our CEO Nithya Thadani at Shoptalk last week, Amazon’s Chief Evangelist for Alexa, Dave Isbitski, spoke about the rise of voice as a universal interface. “The whole idea is you can have conversation be the interface for technology in your life,”” said Isbitski. “”Don’t think of this as a smart speaker revolution—this really is about having voice be the new HTML. It’s the interface for everything.”” It’s a bold vision, but one that many see as being not that far off. The innovation we’re seeing in the space every day to connect user data with experience design is helping to accelerate this future. The more these devices can learn about us, the more context they will have when assisting us, and the faster they can help us across all facets of our lives.

P.S. If you’re a brand looking to learn more about building conversational AI experiences, check out Dashbot’s upcoming SuperBot conference and use code WILL to get 25% off.

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Duplex Rolls Out

Duplex, Google Assistant’s AI agent that can manage appointments and call businesses on a user’s behalf, has rolled out to 43 states in the U.S. After launching in a few select pilot cities last November, the service has smoothed out some features and addressed criticism pertaining to privacy and overly-lifelike speech with new functionality. Currently, the service is only being made available to Pixel phone users for booking restaurant reservations, but it’s expected to continue increasing its device compatibility and the functions it can perform in the coming months. More on VentureBeat

Empathetic Machinery

Dave Isbitski wasn’t the only Alexa employee sharing thoughts on the AI’s future this week. Head scientist of Amazon’s Alexa, Rohit Prasad spoke with WSJ’s ‘The Future of Everything’ Tech team about the current state of conversational AI and key challenges it will need to overcome to improve. Four areas of focus toward improving Alexa discussed were: competency, context awareness, context “beyond words” (i.e. features like whisper mode) and proactive task completion. In order for Alexa and conversational AIs to advance in these areas and continue to get better, Prasad posits that a few things need to happen…first, other devices Alexa connects to need to get smarter and better able to send contextual data to the AI. Secondly, machine learning and predictive modeling will be key in helping Alexa connect dots on behalf of users. What’s the goal of all this? To help Alexa become more empathetic toward its users, build deeper relationships and become more meaningful in their lives. More on WSJ (paywall)

Voice Tickets

Ticketmaster has launched an integration with Alexa to help expand fans’ access to their ticket inventory. The skill helps users at all points of their ticket-purchasing journey including ticket searches, event discovery and buying tickets. As users continue to link their devices with their personal details, it’s a natural fit for the company to create an Alexa skill and help users seamlessly request and purchase tickets. More on Billboard

Stats Don’t Lie

66.4 Million Total smart speakers in use in the U.S., up 40% YoY (data via Voicebot)

13.2% U.S. smart display adoption by smart speaker owners, up from 2.8% in Jan. 2018 (data via Voicebot)

Chart of the Week

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(Perficient Digital’s Stone Temple Group)

SuperBot 2019

Our CCO Will Hall will be speaking at Dashbot’s SuperBot conference about how big brands can build conversational AI experiences. You can get 25% off tickets using code ‘WILL”. Learn more about the conference and Will’s talk at the link below.

DashBot 2019