It seems like every week I read about another voice-controlled "virtual personal assistant" entering the market. What does this mean for those of us manufacturing connected home products? Is voice the holy grail for the IoT?
There’s something so appealing about the idea of virtual personal assistants in the Internet of Things that recognize your voice and act upon your verbal commands.
As Gartner research director Jessica Ekholm notes: “A connected home will be easily achievable for most in a few years. The use of voice as a command for connected home solutions is easier to use than an app: why use an app to control your home when you can just ‘shout’ at it?”
You’re right to point out that there’s a proliferation of voice-controlled products that aim to be the central hub for a smart home:
- Amazon's Echo-controlled Alexa can order goods from Amazon and answer your questions.
- Apple’s HomeKit platform will enable Siri to control devices such as the window shades and coffeemaker.
- Google's new Home device integrates Google functionality as well as some third-party applications.
- Microsoft is making its personal assistant, Cortana, a key feature for the Xbox One.
- Samsung has just acquired Viv Labs from the people who created Siri.
While voice control offers greater ease for consumers, it puts an extra burden on manufacturers of connected products to design IoT products that work with the various platforms. Recently, Amazon announced a $100 million Alexa Fund to attract third-party developers to build on its platform and integrate its voice interface into their software and hardware.
As the competition to "control the counter-top" with voice continues, the ability of a connected product to seamlessly work across multiple platforms will be a key component to IoT success. Is voice the ultimate holy grail for IoT control? Maybe, maybe not. But it’s likely to play an important role for a while to come.
This kind of uncertainty is why at Ayla Networks, our IoT Platform is built to support not only existing IoT technologies, but also emerging ones—and ones that no one has even invented yet. As changes occur, we update connections at the IoT cloud level in our Ayla IoT platform, so that the updates are available automatically to all the connected products using the Ayla cloud.
Today it’s voice control; tomorrow, who knows what? The only predictable constant is change. And while Ayla can’t smooth out all the rough edges for manufacturers, our agile IoT platform might help those voices in your head sound a bit more soothing.
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