Why Smart Home Manufacturers Are Chasing Voice Control


Saying the smart home market is competitive is an understatement. Google and Amazon continue dominating the space with Apple close behind. Meanwhile, lesser-known brands are scratching and clawing their way to higher market share. In the midst of it all is the push for voice control. Smart home manufacturers are chasing voice control as the next big thing.

We consumers were introduced to voice control with the smart speaker. Way back when the smart speaker was new, it was more or less a novelty. I remember some of the old TV commercials. One depicted a man who, for various reasons, decided to order flowers for his wife. He did so by speaking to his smart speaker.

No doubt the novelty factor still plays a role in smart speaker adoption today. But consumers have discovered that integrating their speakers with other devices increases functional capability. Therein lies the secret to understanding why manufacturers are chasing so hard after voice control.

Homeowners Open to the Idea

When we think of smart homes and voice control, we tend to think of controlling lights and running through our favorite playlists while we cook. But what about unlocking doors, activating and deactivating alarm systems, and other advanced features? Homeowners are apparently open to the idea.

Vivint Smart Home ran a survey among a thousand consumers in early 2023, a survey designed to gather their opinions about AI enhanced security systems. According to survey data, 67% of respondents said they were interested in hands-free functions. In other words, they want to be able to unlock the door and turn on the security system just by speaking.

Incidentally, just 20% of the respondents said they were not open to the idea of hands-free function. Just 13% were neutral on the idea. So from the survey alone, we can conclude that customers want voice control.

Not As Accurate As It Could Be

It is understandable if you are confused by the thought of smart home manufacturers chasing voice control. After all, people can already speak to their smart speakers to turn the kitchen lights on. Isn’t voice control already a thing? Yes and no.

Voice control currently works within the smart home environment, but not very well. Suffice it to say that it is not as accurate as it could be. The problem is that machines don’t always recognize human speech the way human brains do.

Our brains are capable of understanding intent even when a person doesn’t speak the right words. Our brains can understand what someone is saying even if words are left out or mispronounced. Computers don’t do this so well. But manufacturers are working on improvements by way of something known as natural language processing (NLP).

The Winner Will Be Way Ahead

NLP is what smart home manufacturers are really after. As they chase voice control capabilities, they know that the entity that manages to master NLP first will be way ahead of the competition. No doubt every manufacturer wants to be that entity.

A comprehensive NLP system would theoretically be able to parse human language as well as the brain. Whether or not that level of computerized understanding is ever achieved remains to be seen. But if it is, and it can be integrated into smart home systems, the potential for voice control is virtually unlimited.

Manufacturers know that voice control is the next big thing in smart home automation. They all want a piece of the pie, so they are chasing it aggressively. Our only task as consumers is to sit back and watch to see who wins the race.

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