I was a toddler when Star Trek first aired, and I’m told that I was a fan from the beginning. (My sister eventually learned to fake-faint so I would stop trying to make a Vulcan neck pinch work.) There’s a part of me that is thrilled that I can order electronics to do my bidding by speaking to them, although I continue to wish they would speak back to me in Majel Barrett’s voice –that might almost make it worth the trade-off in my privacy.
This week, companies have been bragging about the rapid expansion of their voice assistants, each announcement topping the last by another magnitude. With one exception: Microsoft’s Cortana doesn’t seem to be catching on, and Microsoft is showing signs of hiding it away.
- Amazon claims it has sold more than 100 million Alexa-enabled devices [Axios] “In September, Amazon unveiled 13 new Alexa devices, including […] a voice-powered microwave and a home security device powered by newly-acquired Ring. There are more than 150 different products with Alexa built in, many of them developed by third parties.”
- China’s Baidu says its answer to Alexa is now on 200M devices [TechCrunch] “Baidu became China’s top advertising business in part by harnessing what people search on its engine. Down the road, its AI-focused incarnation could apply the same data-crunching process to what people say to their machines.”
- Google Assistant will soon be on a billion devices, and feature phones are next (The Verge) “In addition to the billion milestone, Google is also pointing out that Assistant now works in 30 languages and is available in 80 countries. Global active users have grown four times year over year, too. “
- Microsoft Will Mute Cortana During Setup on Some Windows Versions [ExtremeTech] “IT professionals and business users […] are often trapped in small rooms with a dozen computers while they’re set up for the first time. Having all those computers talking to you automatically during setup could be almost nightmarish.”
From the Ohio Web Library:
- Steele, Chandra. “The Real Reason Voice Assistants Are Female (and Why It Matters).” PC Magazine, Feb. 2018, pp. 39–41.
- Nusca, Andrew. “Smart Speaker Sales Will Eventually Hit a Wall.” Fortune.Com, Oct. 2017, p. 222.
- Kelly, Mary Louise. “Google’s ‘Duplex’ Could Be Your New Personal Assistant.” All Things Considered (NPR), Dec. 2018.