Voice assistants’ worst enemy? Our embarrassment

Today Cortana arrives on Xbox One (for preview members) and I suspect it’s use will be pretty common among their users for two reasons:

  1. Many of them were already using Kinects to shout some voice commands, and now that interaction will grow between them, but even more importantly, 
  2. They will be able to use the feature at home and in private. 

People feel uncomfortable when they try to use a voice assistant in public. That’s what a recent study from Creative Strategies tells us: that feature is becoming more and more widespread on smartphones, smartwatches and other wearables, but lots of people feel weird to use Siri, Cortana or Google Now in public: 

20% of consumers who said they never used a voice assistant stated they had not done so because they feel uncomfortable talking to their technology, especially in public. With public usage as low as 3% for iPhone users, it seems users are still uncomfortable talking to their devices

There’s clearly a cultural barrier here, but cultural barriers happen to dissapear like almost anything else. 

Time.

This is the future of mirrors

Max Braun, a software engineer at Google, has combined a few hardware and software components  to create a mirror that is certainly smarter than all the mirrors I’ve seen in my entire life.

This connected device is not cheap (the display panel is $450 alone) but the result is certainly impressive and shows the way to what mirrors could and should be in the future.

Sure, you could just have a smartphone or a tablet in your bathroom showing this information or a energizing morning video to get you on the mood, but this is far more attractive. In fact Darren Orf has expressed exactly my point at Gizmodo:

Google. If you need moonshot projects that actually make money, this is it. I will buy it immediately. Just tell much money I need to throw at you.

Exactly my point, as I was saying. Let’s see how much time is gone before someone launches something like this in Kickstarter.

The conquest of Alexa

In the coming weeks, Amazon expects to release a smaller, portable version of its voice-activated tabletop Echo speaker, building off the device’s surprise success.

In 2014 Amazon surprised us with its Fire TV device: you could push a button at the top of the remote to active a universal voice-search function.

In late 2014 there was an even bigger surprise. Amazon wanted to conquer our living room from a different perspective. Not with a smartphone, or a console, or a set-top-box. It wanted to conquer us with a speaker. But a neat one. Amazon Echo was born, and Alexa, Amazon’s voice assistant, was a cornerstone of that and other products from that point.

echo

The idea was brilliant then, and is still brilliant today. You could argue that Amazon’s approach to the app store is far from ideal, but they have really good ideas on other segments, though not everything is a success.

So now the rumors are coming: Amazon is preparing a newer, smaller, cheaper version of its Amazon Echo. Its design resembles a beer can, it appears, but there’s a better idea, as Alex Barredo pointed out shortly after the news appeared:

I don’t know if they’d sell millions, but that, for sure, would be pretty interesting too.

Source: Amazon to Release Portable Version of Echo Speaker in Coming Weeks