Voice activated speakers

It’s no secret that our relationship with technology is shifting fast. During 2020 alone, Covid-19 lockdowns prompted millions of people around the globe to form a new appreciation for digital communication. It was also during this time that many individuals decided to grasp the concept of smart homes, with the idea that if you’re going to be predominantly homebound; you might as well make yourself comfortable! 

Interestingly, one of the fastest-selling devices of 2020 was the smart speaker. An indication that home and office owners are looking for a means to make life easier - and perhaps a little more luxurious? Let’s call it a “hands-free approach” to living.

According to Voicebot, the last 3 years has seen voice activated speaker sales increase every year by an average of 40%. In 2020, it was estimated that there were sales of over 100 million units.

If those figures didn’t convince you of consumers’ keenness for smart living, perhaps Statista’s findings will make a more solid impact. This statistics portal suggests that “by 2024, the number of smart speakers and voice assistants will reach 8.4 billion units – a number higher than the global population”!
But let’s backtrack.

If you’re new to IoT (Internet of Things) and smart home living, our enthusiasm for voice activation may be flying over your head. Allow us to enlighten you.

What are smart speakers?

Voice activated speakers or “smart speakers” are AI virtual assistants that you can control using your voice. Just a few years ago, this type of technology was a mere laboratory phenomenon, but now it is being extensively used to run many facets of households and businesses. In fact, 77% of consumers worldwide foresee expeditious growth in their dependence on voice-based technologies, as reported by Capgemini.

This is probably because of the devices’ versatility. They can play music, provide you with a weather update, broadcast the news, initiate calls, and control your smart home devices – such as your smart kettle. These are just a few examples of what voice activated speakers are capable of.

Top reasons for using voice assistants in the US:

Image source: financeonline.com

How do voice activated speakers recognise speech?

Speech recognition comes naturally to humans. It is, however, a very complicated process when undertaken by computers, which has taken years to perfect.

To keep to a basic explanation, smart speakers function as follows:
AI devices are programmed to recognise sections of words, referred to as “phones.” These are then linked with other phones to form “phonemes” – units of sound which distinguish one word from another.

Although there are variations of this process, the basic concept currently remains the same for all speech recognition systems.

*Different brands use different voice recognition systems. For example, Apple created Siri, Microsoft uses Cortana, and Google Home series and Amazon Echo speakers also use their own software AI for their smart speakers.

As it stands, millennials are the heaviest users (no surprise there), but use is rising among all age groups, from kids through to seniors. This is vastly due to more individuals working, studying, consuming entertainment, and conducting personal business from the confines of their homes.

Which voice activated speakers are the best?

According to Techradar’s insight, the most popular voice activated speakers are the Amazon Echo and Google Nest (which used to be called the Google Home). However, other devices are being improved on as you read this and new systems, such as the Amazon Echo (2020), Google Nest Audio, and Apple HomePod mini are starting to give the aforementioned a decent run for their money.

Right now, PC Mag acknowledges Google Assistant to be the superior voice assistant for voice activated devices. This may be because Google is built into all Android phones and it can also understand more complex instructions. However, Amazon has more third-party skills, which means it generally syncs better with most smart home appliances. If you’re looking for more human-like interaction with your technology, then you’ll appreciate Apple’s witty responses!

Global Smart Speaker Market Share Comparison (Excluding China):

Image source: Voicebot.ai

*Whichever voice activated speaker you do choose, remember that compatibility, size, and power (and price) have to be considered.

At the moment, Amazon’s Echo Dot and Nest Mini are highly regarded for their user-friendliness and seamless integration with Alexa and Google Assistant. In terms of power, the Echo, HomePod mini, and Nest Audio remain affordable smart speakers that have no problem filling a room with sound. If you’re one to take the “go big or go home approach”, then the Echo Studio and HomePod are among the biggest, albeit priciest, of the lot.

Voice activated speakers and smart appliances

As voice assistants become more robust, they also become more convenient. We now have a way of carrying on with our busy day-to-day schedules whilst living comfortably.

Thanks to the availability of numerous voice activated speakers, you can control just about any smart appliance and device in your home with no physical contact needed. From turning on your coffee machine and the lights to opening your front door, this very smart technology has made home automation a convenient reality.

Interesting to note:

57% of the US population believes that having smart tech in their households improves their lives (everyfactever.com).

American citizens’ biggest claim is that the use of smart appliances saves them an average of 30 minutes per day. This amounts to one and a half weeks per annum. And there you have it; we’ve just found you that additional time you’ve been searching for!

If you’re ready to equip your home with the best time-saving appliances that you can rely on, then we invite you to visit the Smarter store. You’ll discover a range of smart kettles, fridges, and coffee makers that will connect to your smart home, for optimal luxury and “smart” living. Our top-of-the-range products include the iKettle and Smarter Coffee maker (both of which sync seamlessly with Amazon Alexa, Google Nest Home, Siri and IFTTT) and our popular FridgeCam which connects to Amazon Alexa, Siri, and IFTTT.

From voice-commanding your iKettle and smart coffee maker to “switch on” to asking FridgeCam to list what's in the fridge or what food is about to expire, Smarter’s advanced appliances are uniquely designed to complement your daily routine.