Technology | Media | Telecommunications

Monday, August 22, 2016

Smart Homes Gain Voice Integration and Control Apps

Some consumer electronics (CE) manufacturers have learned from mistakes of the past. Maybe it was the flashing '12:00' on VCR clocks, or the TV remote controls with 40 near-identical tiny buttons, designers knew we needed better ways to program and control the everyday devices that we use.

Now, on a growing number of CE devices, we can simply use our voice to perform routine tasks. While Apple Siri and Google Now are well-established smartphone features, it's in the emerging smart home that voice control systems will discover their full potential.

Smart TVs, smart refrigerators, smart plugs, and many more devices will extend the reach and simplicity of managing the smart home environment using our voice.

CE Voice Control Market Development

With ABI Research forecasting more than 120 million voice-enabled devices to ship annually by 2021, voice control -- which combines speech recognition and natural language processing -- is becoming the key user interface within the smart home environment.

"Led by success of the Amazon Alexa platform, smart home voice control is creating new competition and demands for wireless speaker and other vendors to include voice capabilities in their devices," said Jonathan Collins, research director at ABI Research.

According to the ABI assessment, the scaling of voice control applications in the smart home breeds complexity. Vendors will need to evaluate how and when to bring voice control into smart home devices, by adding the capability into smart home systems.

New microphone-enhanced products will extend the ability to hear voice commands throughout a smart home environment. These devices will include cameras, doorbells, smart lighting and other residential apps. Savvy vendors are already expanding their product portfolio to support voice listening capabilities.

Outlook for Voice-Driven User Interfaces

But tying multiple listening and voice controlled devices together into a coherent smart home system will require a shared voice platform. So far devoid of any standardization, each of the primary home voice platform providers -- i.e. Apple, Amazon, and Google -- all have their own approaches and ways of leveraging their voice capabilities to extend and support their CE portfolio.

"As more devices support voice control, new voice platforms will increasingly aim to support device and device and service providers," concludes Mr. Collins. "In the past few months, for example, Viv Labs emerged as a company focused solely on extending its voice platform to as many services and devices as possible -- without tying it to a sub-strategy of boosting the appeal of a separate core business."