VoiceReallyMatters.com

A layperson’s exploration of all things voice

October 28, 2020

Alexa Can Allow You to Print Stuff & Other Commands to Take Action…

Here’s the intro from this voicebot.ai article:

Amazon’s new Alexa Print feature extends the voice assistant into the physical realm with a slew of new commands that allow the AI to offer a physical response to a question or request. Alexa can print calendars, coloring books, recipes, and puzzles by voice command, a third dimension to the digital audio, and screen responses available on smart speakers and smart displays. The update also allows voice app developers to augment their Alexa skills with printing commands, first promised by Amazon a year ago.

October 20, 2020

The “Smart Speaker” Space is Heating Up…

This voicebot.ai article notes that Apple has reduced its prices dramatically for smart speakers, coming out with a “HomePod Mini” for $99. As someone who spent a bundle a decade ago for a home stereo system from Sonos, it’s amazing to see how prices have dropped. Not to mention the dazzling array of features these smart speakers have. Love the intercom feature so that you can talk to others in another room. No more shouting upstairs for your partner…

October 13, 2020

Using Alexa to Pay for Gas

You can pay for so many things by voice now that blogging about it seems a little silly. But it’s pretty cool that so many gas pumps are now Alexa-enabled – “Alexa Fuel” – as noted in this voicebot.ai article. Here’s an excerpt:

Drivers can now ask Alexa to handle fuel payments at more than 11,500 Exxon and Mobil gas stations in the U.S. The program, first previewed by Amazon at CES in January, skips the need to use a card or touchpad, relying only on voice commands and some access to the voice assistant.

Getting Alexa to pay for the gas just requires a driver to have some way of communicating with Alexa. That can include cars with Alexa built-in, an Echo Auto device in the car, or just the Alexa app on a smartphone. When they park the car at the pump and ask the voice assistant to pay for gas, Alexa will determine what gas station they are at and the pump number, activating the pump remotely, so the driver simply has to insert the nozzle and start refueling their car. The transaction uses a customer’s existing Amazon Pay account, so there’s no extra sign-in needed, although the user can add a voice PIN if they want. Financial tech giant Fiserv supports the underlying communication between Alexa and the pump and facilitates the actual digital payment.

October 6, 2020

WalMart Launches Own Voice Assistant (For Employees Initially)

Here’s the intro from this TechCrunch story:

Walmart is expanding its use of voice technology. The company announced today its taking its employee assistance voice technology dubbed “Ask Sam” and making it available to associates at over 5,000 Walmart stores nationwide. The tool allows Walmart employees to look up prices, access store maps, find products, view sales information, check email and more. In recent months, Ask Sam has also been used to access COVID-19 information, including the latest guidelines, guidance and safety videos.

Ask Sam was initially developed for use in Walmart-owned Sam’s Club stores, where it rolled out across the U.S. in 2019. Because of its use of voice tech, Ask Sam can speed up the time it takes to get to information versus typing a query on the small screen. This allows employees to better engage with customers instead of spending time on their device looking for information.

September 29, 2020

IBM’s Watson Virtual Assistant Answers Voter Questions

Here’s the intro from this voicebot.ai article:

U.S. voters confused about the logistics for the November 3 election may get their answers from IBM’s Watson AI. IBM has created an election-focused version of its virtual assistant to handle questions of that nature using its natural language processing to understand and respond to voice and text queries about where and how to vote. IBM is offering a version of the virtual assistant to states for free until after the election.

September 22, 2020

Apartments Powered Entirely by Amazon

Here’s the intro from this TechCrunch article:

Amazon wants to bring Alexa to property managers. The company this morning launched a new service, Alexa for Residential, that aims to make it easier for property managers to set up and maintain Alexa-powered smart home experiences in their buildings, like condos or apartment complexes. At launch, IOTAS, STRATIS and Sentient Property Services will be among the first smart home integrators to use the Alexa for Residential service.

The idea is to make Alexa a tool for smart home management, even for those without their own Amazon account. The way the service works, new residents won’t have to purchase their own device or set anything up to get started. Instead, they can just speak to Alexa to control the various smart home features available at their residence and use basic Alexa features. like timers, alarms or getting information like news and weather.

Property managers can choose to create custom Alexa skills for each unit, allowing the residents to submit maintenance requests, make amenity reservations or even pay their rent via Alexa.

September 16, 2020

Smart Hotels, Smart Rentals, Smart You Name It…

Here’s a note from the “Rain” agency:

The more smart speakers, the merrier. Smart assistants such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant have become staples in our homes and apartments, individually bought by customers. However, as the adoption of voice technology accelerates, companies are looking to scale the presence of voice assistants to make them everyday necessities anywhere we go. Google and Volara’s new partnership is embedding Google Nest Hubs into hotel rooms, and Alexa for Hospitality is also placing smart speakers in chain hotels and vacation rentals. Meanwhile, Alexa for Business is upgrading the workplace to be more advanced and productive. These initiatives seek to boost the presence of these assistants on a larger scale, moving beyond smart homes to smart hotels, offices, apartment units, and more.