Convenience, opportunity and entertainment make the Smartphone one of the most prized possessions of the world's two billion users. But now, the smart speaker is giving this ubiquitous piece of tech a run for its money in the way it delivers an engaging interactive experience with a real commanding voice. Read on as we explore how the true creative potential of this emerging technology is making itself heard.
Ranging from the ordinary to the ridiculous, smart speakers were originally confined to answering questions posed by the user – "Alexa, what's the weather like?" or "Siri, what came first, the chicken or the egg?" You might not always get the answer you're looking for, but nevertheless, the interaction is an exhilarating one. Seizing the potential of voice activation, content producers are now pioneering new and exciting methods of communication through these devices.
Steeped in tradition, the bedtime story is a firm fixture in the family routine – but with the development of voice technology, a difference in delivery has emerged. Instead of mum or dad recreating the voices of the Grinch or Peppa Pig (to varying levels of success), The Sound Book application creates an acoustic atmosphere, tailor made for individual books. Playing fitting sounds for each passage, the Sound Book is creating a genuine immersive experience for its listeners, and as a result, the revolutionary app has reached number one in the best sellers list. And from the world of literature, we move to music. Smart speakers are synonymous with playing tracks in a single command, so it was no surprise when Alexa's dulcet tones were immortalised in song. London rappers 'Too Many T's' created the first track in which the virtual assistant is a vocalist, and this is just one example of how voice technology is making significant inroads into popular culture.
The reach of the smart speaker is far from limited to the realms of music and literature, with the technology increasingly making its way into the wonderful world of television. In Amazon's latest development, Firesticks now come with Alexa built in as standard – meaning individuals and families alike can change the channel not just at the tap of a button, but just by opening their mouth. And if we turn our attention to advertising, it's clearly apparent that the unique features of the technology have forced advertisers to change their tune too. You buy items online regularly, and it's a fairly easy operation, but Alexa takes the seamless process to a whole new level. Your wish is now your command, simply have your say and Alexa will make the purchase. Unsurprisingly companies are now battling not to just become the top search on google, but to be the first word on Alexa's lips too.
More and more people are embracing this new form of spoken entertainment and education because it allows for a compelling experience like never before. And if researchers are correct, the smart speaker's popularity is showing no signs of slowing. Sales of the devices are set to top 50 million in 2018, and it's projected that 40% of US and UK households will contain an Amazon Alexa by the end of 2020. Whilst the development of smartphone technology has been blamed for the decline of family time, the Alexa is bucking the trend, moving people away from personal electronics, into a more communal, family experience. The smart speakers are initiating a revolution – so don't just watch this space: listen to it.