AI in 2017: #4. Better AI Personal Assistants
Echo really stole the show last year, leaving even the likes of Google Home far behind. Almost everyone you speak to has one, though some – like this very sweary man – cannot use them to their full capacity yet.
Though shouting ‘Trevor!’ at your Echo and smacking it around may be at the bottom rung of understanding, a lot of anecdotes so far centre around the fact that Alexa seems to get used just for playing music, playing Simon Says, and taking a barrage of playground insults from the kids.
Few of us have all the bells and whistles of the smart home enabled yet, nor can easily integrate all of Alexa’s potential ‘skills’ into our everyday lives. But we are at very early stages with the Echo right now. There are reports that Amazon plan to release a new version with a 7” touch screen, and better audio capability. Obviously, the new version will have a bigger price tag, but that’s just the way it goes, isn’t it?
And what’s more than certain is that, as time goes on, Alexa’s skill base will keep expanding. This will make her more useful to a wider range of users, and before long, we’ll be over the first hurdle to savvy mass adoption. If you listen to your grandparents’ tales of when the TV first arrived on the scene, and what a battle your granddad had making the darn thing work, you’ll see that there’s hope for the Echo yet.
Not to be outdone, of course, we anticipate that 2017 will see Google up their game in the digital assistant space, to try and compete with Amazon’s success, and we may see a new arrival from one of the other major players. We’re banking on Apple coming to the table, but when it does, it’ll probably still be the Paris Hilton of the smart assistant world: all glitzy good looks and shoddy brains.