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Home Entertainment ANALYSIS: VOICE CONTROL


Stand up, speak up


22


Voice-assisted products in the home are now more popular than ever. Here, Jack Cheeseman listens in to the market data and the benefi ts for electrical retailers


ccording to Juniper Research, the use of voice assistants is set to triple over the next few years in the UK and 22 per cent of UK households now own a voice-controlled digital home assistant device, such as an Amazon Echo or Google Home. This doubled the 11 per cent figure recorded in 2017. Government research shows that usage has soared with at least one in five homes in the UK estimated to be using them.


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In addition, according to data from Strategy Analytics, more than one in five UK households had a smart speaker as of the end of June 2019. That translates into 5.8 million households and a reach of over 10 million users. Indeed, Futuresource Consulting reported that smart speakers are driving the majority of demand for wireless speakers, accounting for over half of global volumes in 2019 and on track to grow at 13 per cent CAGR between 2019 and 2023. “The New Year in tech wouldn’t be the same without CES and if I’m talking about the future of voice for 2020, it would be remiss of me not to


mention it,” comments Daniel Todaro, Managing Director at Gekko Field Marketing agency. “CES sets the scene for what to expect in the coming year. This January, there were over 46 Google Assistant and 40 Amazon Alexa third party enabled products announced, and Google revealed for the first time that user numbers are at 500 million people a month globally. “There was a whole range of new features


introduced this year, enabling people to schedule certain tasks with other connected devices. For example, scheduling the washing machine to start its cycle at 6pm, uploading contacts from your phone to your Google Nest Hub, as well as booking tickets and making restaurant reservations.”


Part of the family Mr Todaro continues: “Voice control devices cover a host of categories – entertainment, home automation, security and lifestyle/personal assistant and we’re continuing to see frenetic innovation in products with voice control built-in. The race is on


between brands to have their devices at the hub of the home, with their AI personal assistant becoming an addition to the family.” Some highlights from CES this year include Wemo’s updated Wi-Fi Smart Plug – now the smallest of its kind with native Amazon Alexa support – which can turn practically any home appliance into an intelligent one. Sharp Electronics introduced its 24-inch IoT


Microwave Drawer, a built-in oven that features airflow control for flush mounting, a touchless opening mechanism, and it can be controlled via the Sharp Kitchen app or with Alexa voice commands. For those who love to sing in the shower, you can now sing with Alexa directly to your shower head. The Moxie is one part showering device, one part connected smart speaker. The speaker lasts about seven hours on a single charge and includes a cordless charging station. Voice technology has helped bring an array of smart home devices, such as thermostats, lights, locks, cameras and other devices, to more households.


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