Personal assistants has never received most media attention. Apple with Siri, Microsoft with Cortana, Google Now or Amazon with Alexa and Samsung with Bixby… the main tech players make massive investment to propose permanently more interactions and skills. A vocal assistant, really personal? The promise couldn’t be more ambitious but is slow to take hold.
Since Siri appeared in 2011, first true personal assistant for the general public, everyone are succeeding with different declinations, but a common target: us and our precious data. The assistant will be personal only on condition to know ourselves deeply and closely. The war was declared! Started with smartphones that follow us on a daily basis, then with smartwatches, inside our cars (Carplay, Android auto…) and now entering our homes (Amazon Echo, Google Home and HomePod).
The recent partnership between Amazon and Microsoft underlines this challenge. Failure to comply on smartphones market, they make an arrangement to go further. Microsoft brings professional world and large companies, while Amazon brings its deep knowledges on mass markets. This could become a future tech giant, as long as they manage to do more than just a mere inter-connection and manage a transparent interoperability for end users.
End users are actually becoming more and more demanding. As for the assistant, they want it to be personal and therefore relevant to their needs. Otherwise, they will wait or worse, refuse to give their precious data. The bet is yet to be won, especially when we look at the penetration rate of smart speakers such as Amazon Echo: 70% of the US market and only 4% of penetration rate in American homes.
Personal assistants are a promise for something else. A real conversation, a sharp anticipation of our needs, an improvement of our daily life. Would touch screens be in the process of being overshadowed? Same for text? Voice command is without a doubt the most natural way to interact, which would mean an upcovoice first era slowly starting today. What about tomorrow? It’s a little too early to be sure, but personal assistants are one of artificial intelligence’s usage which increased so much it put all the theories on innovation to shame. Personal assistants are definitely going to have a major impact on all of us, whether at home or in the office, and we should keep an eye on it, for sure.
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