Hands up – who’s ever used they’re virtual assistant? Did you even know you had one? On Apple iPhone its ‘Siri’, on Android Phones its ‘OK Google’ and Microsoft has Cortana. Not to mention Amazon Echo – the speaker with Alexa built in.
If you’re not using your voice assistant, now is the time to start, because we’re seeing an increase of functionality moving towards the voice activation abilities of these devices. The voice assistant is an input just like a key on a keyboard, a tap on your phone or a dial on the radio. But even better you don’t have to use a hand to interface you can just call out.
If we take the Amazon Echo as an example, we have here a company that has installed its assistant in a speaker. No screen, hardly any buttons and definitely no keyboard. It was a bold move for Amazon but has now become they’re best selling product. We now know that with upcoming features you will soon be able to make purchases through these assistants or artificial intelligence as it is. Not to mention the research that is going into driverless cars and the medical industry.
Elimination of repetitive tasks
The greatest benefit of AI, which is already emerging, is the elimination of repetitive tasks much like the emergence of household white goods in the fifties and sixties. Could we imagine ourselves without cheap washing machines now?
AI is already a big part of our lives working away in the background for the banking industry, automated call centres and the connected home. If we all installed a product like the Nest Thermostat in our homes for example we could cut energy wastage in half - because the Nest learns. It knows when you’re out and when you’re in and adjusts your heating accordingly.
A good friend of mine once wrote a book on how the internet was further integrating itself into our lives. The book was called ‘Velocity’ and in one of the chapters he said that he couldn’t wait for the day he gets to walk into his front door and asks his TV to bring up his schedule for the day. To put on some music and to book some tickets for the showing of a movie that night.
This is now very achievable and even better can be set up with off the shelf products like Google home and Amazon Echo.
Practical Uses: What Can I do now?
On my iPhone I have set my address and location which now means that when I’m on my way home from somewhere I can simply call out, “Hey Siri”, “Take me Home”. I don’t have to touch the phone or even look at the screen because the navigation app calls out directions to me. I also use it to write text messages for me and make telephone calls all hands free.
What the future will bring
I fully believe that smartphones as we have them now will be replaced by the smartwatch with the user simply able to do everything by voice control.
Even paying for items and in the way we do now will become redundant. Imagine yourself in a restaurant, your smartwatch knows where you are, either because the AI booked the table for you or because it’s tracking your location via you navigation app. When you finish your meal you won’t have to wait for attention you can simply callout “Pay the bill”, tipping is optional of course!