Small Assistants for Better Homes The future of smart loudspeakers is one of the topics of this year's DIGITALK conference

09 July

In the beginning was the Word. A little later came the light since the smart loudspeaker in your home could now turn on the lamp with your voice commands. Another example of how futuristic ideas turn into reality are the virtual assistants that are becoming more and more common in our houses - according to the latest Business Insider data, nearly 20% of the households in the US have at least one such device. Smart assistants and loudspeakers are featured at this year's DIGITALK conference organized by Capital and the LAUNCHub Ventures and NEVEQ funds. It was held on May 31 and June 1 in the Sofia Event Center. One of the guest speakers at the conference was Max Amordelusso from Amazon Alexa.

It was with the emergence of the Amazon Echo product on the market in 2015 and the promotion of voice-activated smart devices began. Three years ago it was still unclear whether these gadgets would become the next fashion or would remain as a boutique feature for technological enthusiasts. Amazon managed to position its product and show that the company has a home app. After Echo's debut on the market, the competing Google Home appeared. But in 2018 these devices are expected to boom as more and more players enter the segment. Either way, most of them use Google's Assistant and Amazon's Alexa apps.

Everywhere Soon
A recent Juniper Research study points out that smart loudspeakers like Amazon's and Google's could enter 70 million households in the US by 2022, which would mean that 55% of the homes in the country would have such devices. Most likely, Amazon will still hold the first place, although the company is losing its full monopoly position since the competition has quickly developed its products.

Amazon's position will be shaken even more strongly in the years to come, as Apple also introduced its smart loudspeakers, HomePod, using Siri's assistant, which will undoubtedly appeal to the hard core of Cupertino giant fans. Speakers' lower prices and successful marketing strategies during holidays will also be one of the trends that will remain in the coming years, experts say. They point out that Amazon Echo will most likely remain a leader but will lose market share to Google as well as to Chinese players.

An obstacle to the growth of smart loudspeakers may be the fact that technological giants largely impose them so they can more easily collect data from their users. The Cambridge Analytica scandal, which hit Facebook and created a serious headache to Mark Zuckerberg, led to heated debate about whether information gathering needs to be regulated. Facebook also had plans to launch a clever loudspeaker on the market, but its debut was delayed after these scandals.

The connected home
At this stage, smart loudspeakers are mostly an easy and enjoyable way to play music, understanding the weather forecast for tomorrow, or hear an audiovercy on a Wikipedia article. But in the near future these devices will become the heart of the connected home. Currently, most people around the world do not live in a place that allows full integration of such a system, but with the growing popularity of products such as Echo and Google Home, more and more consumers connect their lights to assistants and switch to other appliances such as air conditioners, security system, etc.

Connected home is actually a shorter way to the Internet of things without requiring a 5G network. Smart devices will undoubtedly be in the focus of big companies in the near future and will replace far more sophisticated systems providing comprehensive cable infrastructure for a much higher price.

The development of artificial intelligence and the easy way to use the loudspeakers make them a great opportunity to bring home comfort and their low cost makes them an excellent opportunity to make somebody a gift. With the development of the market both Amazon and Google has gradually ldecreased product prices and launched new models. While in countries like Bulgaria they may not be able to use all functions such as commands in the local language or commodity orders, their functionality is yet to develop.