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Thursday, December 27, 2018

On the Awkwardness of Voice

I now have been testing the voice in home, in various forms, from three providers, since its common inception for over three years. Most do not consider it creepy.  Despite the advances, can still be awkward.   But then so can typed consumer interaction.  The biggest problem is still that we do not support  'conversational dialog' with operational contextual memory.   Errors exist in both the transcription of what is said, and how it assembles itself into meaningful, ongoing interaction.  Humans do that, but also make errors.   Yet sales of voice devices still increase, and there is still increasing use and value.

Your Voice Assistant may be Getting smarter, but its still Awkward. By Lauren Goode in Wired

In September of this year, Amazon hosted a press event in the steamy Spheres at its Seattle headquarters, announcing a dizzying array of new hardware products designed to work with the voice assistant Alexa. But at the event, Amazon also debuted some new capabilities for Alexa that showcased the ways in which the company has been trying to give its voice assistant what is essentially a better memory. At one point during the presentation, Amazon executive Dave Limp whispered a command to Alexa to play a lullaby. Alexa whispered back. Creepiness achieved.

Voice-controlled virtual assistants like Alexa and the speakers they live inside are no longer a novelty; an estimated 100 million smart speakers were installed homes around the world in 2018. But this year, the companies making voice-controlled products tried to turn them into sentient gadgets. Alexa can have the computer version of a "hunch" and predict human behavior; Google Assistant can carry on a conversation without requiring you to repeatedly say the wake word. If ambient computing—the notion that computers are all around us and can sense and respond to our needs—is the vision technologists have for the future, then 2018 might just be the year that vision came into sharper focus. Not with a bang, but a whisper.   .... "

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