Voice assistants are now on everyone's lips. They are among the biggest smart home trends and are now inspiring more and more newcomers to technology thanks to their ease of use. When used correctly, voice-controlled systems and components can make everyday life a lot easier. Alexa, and Samsung's Bixby are currently competing for the favour of smart home fans.
What is a voice assistant?
A certain type of software serves as a personal assistant that analyses spoken words, puts them into the correct context and reacts to them. Voice assistants, which are sometimes also referred to as mobile assistants, are usually integrated into smartphones or smart speakers. If you talk to these devices, the device answers verbal questions via its voice software or controls e.g. B. Smart home devices connected to it. The most popular voice assistant is currently Alexa from Amazon.
The global triumph of voice assistants can no longer be stopped
Talking to digital assistants has become part of everyday life for many of us. According to the company, Google had already sold at least one Google Home per second at the end of 2017 and Amazon shipped 20 million Alexa devices for Christmas alone that same year.
Around 14 months later, in January 2019, David Limp, Amazon's senior vice president, told The Verge that Amazon had already brought more than 100 million Alexa speakers into circulation. It is no wonder that others want to jump on the trend towards voice control. While Samsung advertises the smartphone operation via Bixby language software.
According to an IDC study on the growth of the smart home market, up to 1.6 billion smart home devices could have been shipped by the beginning of 2023 if demand meets the experts' expectations.
What is the attraction of smart speakers with integrated voice control?
Voice assistants can take on almost all tasks that are annoying to us. Mowing the lawn, vacuuming, switching on the washing machine, making coffee, charging the car battery: all of this can be done on demand with networked devices with voice assistant support. If desired, an electric door lock can even be locked with it.
The possibilities of voice control are now almost unlimited. Anyone who buys the market leader Amazon Echo can even access on-board computer data while on the move using the Alexa Car function or shop using voice commands.
Voice assistant Alexa controls hundreds of different devices
There is almost no home appliance that the Alexa software cannot control. From the oven to the smart lawnmower to the connected car, the Alexa voice software connects to countless different products and systems or their control centres. That may sound a bit like total control at first, but it has the great advantage that many tasks and processes can be easily automated. If you like, you can even do a large part of your house cleaning from your favourite armchair. How it works? Simply install an Amazon Echo speaker with Alexa software, connect it to a mower, mop or vacuum robot and get started.
Amazon currently offers more than ten different Alexa speakers in different generations. The following five models are also suitable for beginners:
- Echo Flex: The smallest and at the same time cheapest Alexa loudspeaker is connected directly to the socket and offers full access to all Alexa functions despite its compact dimensions. The sound quality of the Echo Flex is not as excellent as with larger models, but it can be supplemented directly with a night light or motion detector.
- Echo Dot (3rd Gen.): This also inexpensive Amazon Echo variant with better sound quality offers in our opinion the best price-performance ratio. Echo Dot 3 can be placed anywhere in the house using a commercially available battery station. On request, the Echo Dot 3 is also available with an integrated time, alarm and temperature display.
- Amazon Echo 3: The classic among echoes plays music, controls the television, provides weather information, tells jokes and much more. Like most other models, the Echo 3 is also available in different colours - e.g. B. anthracite or sandstone - available.
- Echo Plus (2nd Gen): This Echo variant has an integrated hub for easier Smart Home control. This means that many Alexa-compatible devices can be networked directly without having to buy a ZigBee hub.
- Echo Show 2: With Echo Show (1st generation), Amazon brought its first smart speaker with a touch display onto the market.
A big advantage of Amazon's voice assistant Alexa is that it is networked with a cloud. In this way, Alexa can independently learn from the requests and requests of thousands of users and expand its skills. Thousands of so-called Alexa Skills are also available in the Amazon Skill Store, with which additional functions can be activated by voice. For example, the TV program skill, the motivational phrase skill or the trip to Jerusalem skill. All you must do is say the following sentence: "Alexa, open [name of the desired skill]".
The only exception are skills that require further information (e.g. account data) or that first must be networked with a specific component. This includes the Lieferando skill, which must be activated in the app. More information is available here: Alexa Skills - An overview of the best free Echo features.
The voice assistant Alexa can even take calls or shop
In addition, Amazon Prime members have the option of placing online orders using voice commands and having their favourite products delivered straight to their home.
According to KPMG's Consumer Barometer, "60 percent of those surveyed were interested [as early as 2018] in buying electrical appliances using voice commands." However, comparatively few users dare to really try out the function in practice. So far, language ordering has not caught on, presumably because reading out the options can be "very tiring".
Have you ever talked to the microwave?
Due to constantly new collaborations, the range of Alexa-compatible products is constantly growing. This applies to both small start-ups and large and well-known brand manufacturers. For example, Siemens offers an oven, dishwasher and a smart washing machine model with voice control. And thanks to the manufacturer KOHLER, even the toilet flush now works with Alexa voice commands.
Bixby the digital assistant for Samsung smartphones
The voice assistant Bixby is at home on the smartphone models Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8 + and the new Galaxy Note9, as well as the Galaxy S10 series.
In the future, Samsung would like to expand its electrical household appliances so that they are compatible with the company's own voice assistant Bixby.
One function of Bixby, however, is already in great demand worldwide: it can recognize objects held in front of the smartphone's lens and research their availability on the Internet. Then it shows very discreetly where to buy the chic sports watch of the neighbour or the noble shoes of the boss. This function can also be used to call up interesting facts about local attractions. In some countries it is even possible to organize expert advice from the network by scanning a wine label.
To use Bixby, the desired Samsung Galaxy smartphone must be updated to Android Pie. In newer models, Bixby is often preinstalled as standard.
Alexa has so far offered the most compatible products and convinced us with the numerous useful and entertaining skills. Alexa uses the search engine Bing by default. The voice assistant Bixby is left far behind in the lower ranks as it simply does not have the same functionality that Alexa does.