CES 2019 Shows Voice Interfaces Going Mainstream
Last year, DisCo covered the rise of digital assistants at CES 2018. This year, among the many emerging products and innovations at CES 2019, was a natural continuation of the trend of voice interfaces being integrated into a wide array of devices. A myriad of products including cars, fridges, phones, smart speakers, TVs, and massive amounts of IoT devices showcased a means of vocal operation or interaction. While the inclusion of voice interfaces in products is certainly nothing new, it was once only utilized in a narrow line of products such as voice assistants, home speakers, and the like. This year’s CES shows us that general voice interfaces are becoming a real option for device operation.
In her keynote at CES 2019, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty discussed what IBM believes is next for data, computing, and society. Starting her talk, Rometty focused on AI integration into processes such as health and weather monitoring in combination with what she called deep data to make increasingly accurate forecasts and predictions. Last June, an IBM AI faced off against a human debater. At CES this year, Rometty stated IBM is taking that AI, Project Debater, even further, with a new experimental cloud-based AI platform that crowd-sources argument support called “Speech by Crowd.” Speech by Crowd “uses the core AI behind Project Debater to collect free-text arguments from large audiences on debatable topics and automatically construct persuasive viewpoints to support or contest the topic.”
IBM wasn’t the only presenter at CES this year showcasing increased voice integration and control; Google, Amazon, Samsung, and Alibaba each displayed their own uses for voice or conversational operation of devices. Google’s efforts outlined its focus on building an ecosystem for the Google Assistant, including translation and increased integration with third-party products. Google also created a virtual ride through an individual’s day, where the Google Assistant answered questions and performed tasks based off of varied requests or actions. Amazon unveiled updated products and released numbers on important Alexa milestones. Samsung talked about its advances towards the future of connected living. Alibaba announced its partnership with BMW to bring its smart speaker virtual assistant, Tmall Genie, to BMWs in China. Presenters not only highlighted their key products but additionally showcased new or updated lines of products with greater compatibility of the Google, Amazon, and Samsung virtual assistants in their products [1, 2, 3]. This trend reflects DisCo’s previous posts on digital assistants, AI, and their growing device incorporation.