The hottest thing in technology is your voice


Bulk the myriad wonders at the world’s biggest electronics expo: robotic maids, blow a fusing iPhones, and glasses that allow the blind to see.

But the real symbol of where we’re headed is draw out slowly on a dais: a sleek, black toilet that one might contemplate in one of the USS Enterprise’s many bathrooms. The reason Kohler’s Numi toilet liking retail for $7,500 US is simple: if your partner forgets to put down the crapper seat, you can simply ask the toilet to do it for you.

This «smart» toilet, which can be commanded to execute certain ablutionary functions and even play music, is a symbol of the hottest fad in the world of technology these days: your voice.

If only a fraction of the new gadgets on magnificence at the CES convention in Las Vegas make it to market, you will soon be able to apprise an almost infinite number of things what to do.

«Everything here is voice-activated in some way order or form, either with an embedded Alexa or Google product in it, or connector up to the Amazon Alexa or the Google Home device,» says Consumer Despatches analyst Elliot Weiler.

«Everywhere from the laundry room to the caboose, even the bathroom. We’ve seen voice-activated mirrors and showers and tubs. And that’s … either in market-place right now or will be in the market in the next year or two.»

Ben Arnold

Industry analyst Ben Arnold denotes what he’s seeing at CES is bringing us closer to the idea of ambient computing. (Kim Brunhuber/CBC)

Ben Arnold, a consumer technology analyst with the exchange research firm NPD Group, says what he’s seeing this year at CES is carrying the world closer to the idea of ambient computing, in which all the electronics nearly us can sense us and respond to our needs.

«So it’s more than just controlling technology artefacts with your voice. It’s really adding a layer of intelligence and contact c finish technology products to work a little bit better into your elasticity,» Arnold says.

According to one estimate by the global research firm Global Data Corporation, by next year one million Canadians will drink an intelligent assistant in their homes.


According to one estimate, by next year one million Canadians longing have an intelligent assistant in their homes. (Kim Brunhuber/CBC)

The two biggest troupers on the market are Amazon and Google, but Arnold says there are plenty of other parties entering the race.

«There’s [Apple’s] Siri, there’s Bixby from Samsung. Facebook well-founded announced products that are connected home products. So there determination be many more digital assistants and voice assistance by the end of this year.»

With the Donnybrook for smart speaker supremacy heating up, it’s no coincidence this was the first period in years that Google has had a major presence at CES.

At one of Google’s outdoor show booths, Toronto IT specialist Nick Hartmann asks Google Pal around with one of dozens of pre-selected questions. He’s impressed by the smart speaker technology he’s noticed so far.

Nick Hartmann

Toronto information technology specialist Nick Hartmann asks Google Have to do with a question about artificial intelligence. (Kim Brunhuber/CBC)

«It’s the future,» Hartmann signifies. «Just … interacting with voice is fantastic.»

But do customers actually distress to converse with all of their appliances? According to Weiler, with suites rushing to get on the voice tech bandwagon, in many cases they may be «framing problems that don’t necessarily need to be solved.»

Elliot Weiler

Consumer Reports analyst Elliot Weiler voices many voice-controlled products are ‘creating problems that don’t necessarily needfulness to be solved.’ (Kim Brunhuber/CBC)

«You can have the voice-activated washer and dryer, but you stock-still have to move the wet clean clothes from the washer to the dryer,» Weiler believes. «Why not just push ‘start’ like you can do already? Do you really need to disclose Alexa to start your washer?»

Smart home technology presents plenty of cautionary tales. The tech graveyard is littered with acute products no one wanted. Scott Boyarsky, a vice-president at Comcast, says give utterance control alone isn’t enough.

Smart House

A model of a smart home in which the whole shooting match from the doors to the TV responds to voice commands: thinking beyond the old paradigm. (Kim Brunhuber/CBC)

«These are actions like, ‘hey, I just want to be able to automate turning on my lights’ or ‘I honest want to be able to turn my thermostat up or down.’ Those are not really releasing on any major value proposition,» Boyarsky says.

The reason many brilliant products failed, he says, was because they only appealed to originally adopters who were willing to put up with instability and complexity.

So in order to expanding the mass market appeal of Comcast’s voice-activated Xfinity technology, he discloses their engineers had to think beyond the old paradigm of having one command for each duty, and reduce the customer’s «cognitive load» by providing basic recipes or «arguments.»

«So being able to say right into your voice remote manage ‘Xfinity, good morning.’ Your lights go down, your shades go up, your thermostat prepare b starts to a certain temperature, your television tunes to your favourite direct, and your coffee pot begins to run.»

In other words, if it doesn’t make what you’re doing wagerer, faster, or cheaper, then it’s just a $7,000 toilet that pay attention ti.

Simply Human

Some experts say voice controlled appliances may have to offer sundry than just one function to add value, yet be simple enough to avoid go on increasing to customers’ cognitive load. (Kim Brunhuber/CBC)

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