A future filled with voice-assisted technology is near
In late December 2017, I predicted that 2018 would be the year of talking to things. Now, more than two-thirds of the way through the year, perhaps we should take stock and see how that prediction is holding up.
From a personal perspective, Alexa has come to dominate much of my home entertainment pursuits. For Christmas, I received an Echo Dot. Because the sound quality on the Echo Dot lacks something to be desired, I hooked it up to my home stereo system. Fixed.
Sometime in the late spring, I added an Echo Show — the Dot’s higher-tech cousin with a seven-inch touchscreen. I actually used it to replace by bedside alarm clock. With the Echo Show, I can set an alarm to wake me up to music, watch videos on Amazon Prime Video as I fall asleep, or listen to music and programming (including local radio stations) through the TuneIn Radio app. It also features a variety of apps for playing relaxing sounds to fall asleep to, which makes it a nice bedside companion.
I mentioned that my dad got an Echo Dot for his birthday a year ago. He primarily uses it to create his shopping list, which is then available on his Alexa app when he goes grocery shopping. He also uses it to listen to music and get instant answers to questions as they arise.
But the reason I wanted to bring this up now is because a radio consultant whom I trust recently suggested that Alexa will likely kill the search button on your car’s dashboard radio. Fred Jacobs, the founder of Jacobs Media Strategies, wrote in a blog post this week that voice-enabled dashboards are “coming to the car — at 90 mph.”
And we’re not talking about OnStar. We’re talking full-blown, full-featured, Alexa-enabled dashboards.
“...If you think about the voice revolution as just inert, odd-shaped objects we talk to in our homes or offices, you may be missing the gargantuan bigger picture promised by voice,” Jacobs writes. “If you’re in the content business — that means television, radio, podcasting, video, games — you’d better master this voice thing.”
Citing a recent commentary in AdAge by Nasser Sahlool titled, “The Revolution Will Be Vocalized: How Voice Is Changing Everything,” Jacobs notes that, by 2020, more than half of all searches will be carried out by voice.
“That’s a mere year-and-a-half from right now,” Jacobs adds.
By 2020, experts predict there will be more than 1.6 billion voice-enabled digital assistants in use. In a study conducted this year by digital marking firm DAC, 43 percent of respondents said they are using voice assistants to buy something. A full 70 percent of millennials reported shopping using their voice assistants, and 56 percent of those shoppers said they use their voice assistants on a daily basis.
The experts are predicting exponential growth in this technology in the next 18 months; but they are also quick to point out that the voice-assisted revolution is not coming — it’s already here.
Ford is already building Alexa into its automobiles, and other automakers are lining up to do the same. It’s only a matter of time before your dashboard becomes truly hands-free — and that’s probably a good thing.
But, as Jacobs notes, content creators better get on the ball, because the last one at the table will almost certainly miss out.
— Originally Published in the Las Cruces Sun-News, 09/13/18