2013 was the year our digital lives were to be transformed for the better. Not because of the Xbox One launch, or the debut of Apple iOS 7, but the surprising introduction of Microsoft’s smart speaker, Cortana. The following year saw other tech giants follow suit, and it was not long before Amazon, Apple and Google all launched their own versions of this ground-breaking tech.
A virtual assistant, at your beck and call to help you with your grocery shopping, to boil the kettle and that will not answer back sounds perfect, does it not? Many of us agreed that it would be a vital addition to our homes, so much so, that in 2019 the Government added ‘smart speakers’ to the list of items monitored to measure the cost of living. However, the reality is that out of the 1 in 5 who own a smart speaker in the UK, almost half feel they are not getting the most out of their in-home devices.
Despite clearly proving commercially successful, and usage set to grow into 2020, some query the transformative value of this technology. Indeed, the top three commands for our smart speakers haven’t really changed across half a decade: listening to music, checking the weather and setting timers – not entirely revolutionary.
Whilst some argue that this laggard behaviour is down to a lack of trust or comfort in their devices, others put it down to the tech’s difficulty in understanding the nuances in human language, often meaning the robots are prone to error.
Before storming ahead and innovating further in this category, it might be beneficial for Amazon, Google and the like to take a step back and overcome the current barriers to expansive usage. How can they grow trust in smart speaker devices, so they become an irreplaceable and vital part of daily life, instead of being a ‘nice-to-have’ gadget?