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The Exciting Challenges Experts are Improving for Voice AI and Smart Speakers

Chris Miljanovski

Voice AI is rapidly being integrated into many facets of our daily lives and smart speakers are selling by the millions, however there are still noticeably room for improvements that many large corporations including Amazon and Google are currently working on. 

When Amazon started shipping its first smart speakers near the end of 2014, voice assistants were being hailed as the beginning of a new era in technology.  Although Alexa’s main advertised goal is to be used to make purchases, it’s arguable that it isn’t quite there yet as described here, and the general public has yet to adopt this tech and integrate it into their day-to-day shopping routines. 

There are challenges facing Voice AI as well, such as having too many commands, visual limitations and the inability to complete more complex tasks. We wanted to explore those issues and provide a bit of insight into where we see the technology heading in the future.

Too many commands

Natural language processing is a challenge to the smart speaker. If you have a voice assistant that can perform a set of specific commands, you’d provide the AI with enough samples of the different ways a user may say those commands, so that the model can understand and react or respond to those commands accordingly.

This way works well, as long as the smart speaker can perform those specific tasks, and the user knows they are the only option., but in the case of Amazon Alexa however, you can create many new skills. The problem with this is that there is no way the user can memorize the list of voice commands it gives the assistant, and the user will expect it to perform these tasks anyway they want to instruct it.

Voice AI currently experience the limits of deep learning algorithms, which means they can only work within the specific constraints they are trained to do. General-purpose AI can do anything a user asks it to do, but that technology is some time away, so working within Voice AI’s current capabilities is essential.

Visual Limits 

We have become a very visual society as technology has progressed. With a smart speaker equipped with Amazon Alexa, you can’t see the list of commands you’ve created, unless you go to your other devices like your smartphone or computer to see them. Considering that issue, Amazon introduced an alternative: The Echo Show, where they added a display to the smart speaker with touch screen functionality. This may seem like a good fix, but as a result, the whole purpose of the smart speaker, which is to use voice commands, becomes a background feature, and the user opts to use the display and touch screen. 

Complex Tasks

At this time, Voice AI is not a good fit for complex and intricate tasks. If at user is shopping and wants options and the ability to compare different choices, they’ll need a display. If a user is buying simple household goods like toilet paper or dish soap, then a smart speaker can quickly help complete that task. As a result of their inability to perform complex tasks, Voice AI and smart speakers are only able to perform simple tasks, such as turning on the lights, setting timers, playing music, or reading recipes out loud. 

What does the future look like?

While there are several hurdles and challenges to tackle in AI Voice, the future is incredibly bright with endless opportunity. Voice AI and smart speakers have found their way into our homes to help us complete the simple tasks we deem daunting. They have also made our homes more intelligent, helping us operate our appliances and thermostats. Because there are so few commands you would want to give an appliance like an oven, for example, the chances of giving your Voice AI a command it doesn’t understand is small. This is why we see the integration of Voice AI into our homes and daily lives becoming a permanent fixture in the future.

Our next blog will outlines the 6 key predictions Voice AI and Smart Speakers we will see going forward.


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