VoiceReallyMatters.com

A layperson’s exploration of all things voice

July 7, 2020

Have Alexa Pre-Announce Each Song You Hear…

This C-Net article provides five “music hacks” to better leverage music when you use Alexa to listen to it. My favorite is this one:

When you’re listening to a new song you’ve never heard, it can be annoying to interrupt the song by asking Alexa what it’s called or who sings it. However, with a feature called Song ID, Alexa will announce the artist and name of the track before playing the song. To enable, say, “Alexa, turn on Song ID.”

The article also suggests a dozen fun music-related questions to ask Alexa, such as “Alexa, who is Jessie’s girl”…

June 25, 2020

Smart Mirrors? Whoa…

There’s something freaky about this Forbes article that describes how a new set of smart mirrors work. Here’s an excerpt:

These smart mirrors feature varying luminosity levels ranging from cool light (optimal for makeup application) to warm light (perfect for winding down before bedtime), defogging features to reduce mirror steam in less than five seconds and memory function to save one’s ideal light settings for daily use. With a minimally designed icon panel, these mirrors are controlled by touching integrated icon buttons. With a luminosity of >300 Lux [unit of illumination] and gradual adjustments of light color ranging from warm candle light to cool light (2,700 – 6,500 kelvin light color), these mirrors afford illumination as required for the task on hand and time of day.

June 23, 2020

Using Voice in the Workplace

One area that I like to ponder is how voice assistants will eventually be used in the workplace. This article from “Small Biz Trends” has some ideas – here’s an excerpt:

Voice assistants like Cortana and Siri can be very helpful in analyzing data. Businesses can use voice assistants for task tracking, as well as time management. You can use voice commands to build analytical queries over large data stores helping you to easily crunch data thus saving you valuable time.

For example, Siri can help you analyze data by using voice commands. You can help build analytical queries over large data trove, dividing data by date ranges or functions by simply using your voice. Voice assistants also help you not only interpret the data but also provide visualization as well.

“One way we use Voice AI specifically at Beyond Key is through automatically recorded Zoom meetings. These recordings are then transcribed, speakers identified, minutes tagged, and keywords flagged. The entire transcription becomes searchable, so you can find any action items”, added Goel on the tasks voice assistants are already making.

Advanced voice assistants are also changing the way we do business. They can now help employees use voice commands to make service requests. They are then transformed into service tickets that are addressed by support staff. This helps expedites the processing of requests and putting job orders in the system with little effort. It can be handy for businesses working in food and beverages, supplies, cleaning or maintenance.

June 17, 2020

Voice Biometrics Will Be Mainstream in 5 Years…

This press release claims that voice biometrics will be mainstream by 2026, driven by the need to protect our accounts and thwart hackers. Of course, voice biometrics has already started – this Voicebot.ai article notes how Google Assistant allows you to make some purchases by using your voice with its “Voice Match” service…

On an unrelated note, Google has made the completed the branding transition from “Google Home” to “Google Nest”…

June 9, 2020

Smart Speakers: Bedrooms are the Most Popular Location

Here’s the stats from this Voicebot.ai article:

– Smart speakers are most likely to be found in bedrooms, leading other locations in the home at 45.5% of device owners
– The popularity of the bedroom rose about eight percent over 2019 when it was the choice of 37.6% of smart speaker owners
– Consumers with smart speakers in the bedroom are more active users of smart speakers across a number of use cases
– Data suggests smart speakers are becoming more integrated into morning and evening routines for consumers and that privacy concerns are no more prevalent based on location within the home

June 3, 2020

Your Voice May Predict Heart Problems

Recently, I blogged about how voice may help detect whether you have Covid-19. This Voicebot.ai article notes a new study that indicates that voice may be able to help detect heart issues. A vocal biomarker – using artificial intelligence – may be able to identify those with a high risk of heart failure without requiring a physical exam. Telemedicine continues its roll…

May 28, 2020

Customizing Google’s Devices to Determine Their Sensitivity to Sounds

As noted in this “Verge” article, Google is starting to “roll out gradually” a feature allowing you to customize voice detection sensitivity on Google Assistant devices. Here’s the article:

Google is starting to “roll out gradually” a feature allowing you to customize voice detection sensitivity on Google Assistant devices, a spokesperson confirmed to The Verge. Although the feature has not been widely released yet, Mishaal Rahman, editor-in-chief of XDA Developers, was able to access the feature by tinkering with the Google Home app’s code, he told The Verge.

Screenshots that Rahman posted to Twitter show the “‘Hey Google’ Sensitivity” feature displaying a slider that allows you to increase or reduce the sensitivity with which Google Assistant devices pick up the command “Hey Google.” Last September, Google confirmed there was an update coming that would let you adjust listening sensitivity. The new setting is meant to decrease accidental activations of your Assistant.

May 21, 2020

How Consumers Are Using Voice During the Pandemic

In this 11-page report, RAIN and PulseLabs looked into the how over 1400 people are using voice assistants during the pandemic. Here’s the highlights:

More People are Looking to Voice for News & Info – Voice requests for updates about the coronavirus increased by 250% in the month of March, indicating that people are increasingly looking to their voice assistants for news and a variety of facts about current events.

Voice Searches Carry Rich Emotional Valence – Spoken searches and commands can carry more emotion and sentiment, valuable for brands in any industry. For example, we found that people ​confide​ in Alexa, asking questions like “Alexa, what are the chances I’ll be infected?,” “Alexa, I’m scared,” and “Alexa, am I going to die?”

Spikes in At-Home Voice Use Presents Big Potential Value for Brands – The conversation on voice can yield valuable insights across industries. As one key example, we found a 50% increase on voice apps related to ordering and delivering food. And questions about recipes have gone up by 41%. Analysis of these utterances confirms the intuition that people are cooking and ordering food more than before, while also providing clues about which brands and experiences they prefer.

Accuracy is Paramount for Trust – Over recent months, both Alexa and Google Assistant have taken pains to ensure that reputable, recognized sources provide answers to coronavirus-related queries through a strong emphasis on 1st party experience. The volume, variety, and seriousness of the queries seen in this report validate the importance of those efforts.

May 19, 2020

Smart Speakers Can Be Smart

This NY Times article describes the many uses of smart speakers that often aren’t taken advantage of – here’s an excerpt:

All the major smart speakers can connect to your phone and be used as a speakerphone. Even in the most well-wired offices, it’s often hard to be heard and understood on conference calls, and your smart speaker may be able to help. Using a HomePod, Google Home speaker, or Echo device as a speakerphone has two main advantages: It likely has a louder speaker than your smartphone and, often, an array of multiple microphones designed to pick up hard-to-hear speech from different angles of a room.

Each manufacturer has instructions on how to turn its smart speaker into a speakerphone (here they are for Apple’s HomePod, Google Home and Amazon’s Echo devices). Each device has its own way of connecting to your phone and contacts. Amazon Echo and Google Home speakers connect through their apps, while Apple iPhones can connect to HomePods over AirPlay or automatically just by holding it near the top of the speaker.

This might not be ideal in a large corporate setting, but for smaller offices or remote settings, having a multipurpose speaker that can be used for music and other tasks, as well as a conference call speakerphone other times might be just the ticket to beat the bad call quality that comes with other speakerphones.