October Update

Trick or Treat is just around the corner and I know where I’ll be going: (guess: it’s my favorite electronics store…). Why? ‘Cause EVERYBODY’S releasing digital devices that we “talk to” rather than “type to”! So, I can say “Hey Google, Trick or Treat”. (Try it. It response is hilarious!)

Technology has been toying with AI (artificial intelligence) for years however, it wasn’t until Amazon™ (WHO???) introduced us to Echo™/Alexa™ that we began to understand … we could Google anything or we could simply ask Alexa. The result will, most likely, be the same. Imagine: talking to your “computer” and telling it to “do” things for you. Things like “add eggs to my grocery list” or “play my workout music” or “remind me to pick up a Smartbulb” on my way home tonight” or … I trust you’re getting the picture!

I help folks gain confidence using digital devices (i.e. I teach them how to use computers and tablets, etc.) and I am at a crossroads: do I continue to teach them to interact via keyboard and mouse OR do I help them learn to “talk to” their “computer”?

Voice recognition has become so accurate and processors have become so fast that we can actually talk to our computers and accomplish most, if not all, the tasks we routinely do using a keyboard and mouse.

Amazon’s Echo™ and Google’s Assistant™ are leading the way HOWEVER, Apple™ (playing catchup) is introducing a speaker that includes a “musicologist” Follow this now: Apple is NOT positioning itself to compete with Amazon or Google on the “smart voice input device” platform. No, Apple is positioning itself to compete with Sonos and Bose on the high-end speaker front. But WAIT! Isn’t the “musicologist” Siri in different clothing? Doesn’t that mean I can ask my “musicologist” ANYTHING and NOT LIMIT interaction to music-related activities?! Hmmm, so Apple is positioning it’s smart assistant as a speaker and not as a smart assistant – even though it does/will do the same thing smart assistants do?! Gotta’ love marketing!

Not to be left in the dust, Sonos™ is introducing a smart speaker initially rumored to be on the Echo platform but also reported to be “intelligence independent” (my term) enabling it to interact with a number of intelligent assistants (think of one device capable of interacting with Echo or Google or Siri or Cortana, or …) And Microsoft™ is rumored to be working with Harman Kardon™ on a smart speaker.

We will all be like members of the Enterprise crew telling our computers what we want them to do for us:

“Computer, make an appointment for my haircut”

“On what day, Richard?”

“Tomorrow, around one in the afternoon, with my usual hairdresser”

“OK, Richard. Your appointment is made and I created a reminder for you an hour      prior. Is there anything else I can do for you at the moment?”

“No. We’re good, thanks”

That last bit of interaction “No. We’re good, thanks” is me speaking to my voice assistant (computer) as if it were an actual person. That’s a behavior called anthropomorphizing an object. (Think Easter Bunny)

We’ll, it’s time to go. Gotta’ teach a class today.

Hey Google, start the coffee, turn on the TV news, and tell me today’s weather forecast …

“OK, Richard …”


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