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Dedicated voice assistants are living on borrowed time

Rob Horgan
Dedicated voice assistants are living on borrowed time

Voice-assisted home devices like Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home could soon be made redundant. Just week’s after Apple announced its rival home assistant – the HomePod – and it looks like it could be rendered pointless already.

That is because Snapdragon chipmaker Qualcomm is investing big in its own smart audio platform. So what? Well, Qualcomm’s plans are to create chips that can turn any and every speaker into a voice assistant. The idea being that the chips will be built to integrate with multiple voice assistants, including Alexa and Google Assistant.

The proposed chips will support multiple configurations of microphones allowing it to switch between assistants. Far-fled noise cancellation will be integrated into the chips to allow a device’s microphone to detect the user's voice from across the room. Keyword detection and voice biometrics will also allow the speakers to identify different users.

With Qualcomm’s technology, manufacturers will be able to build in the technology to existing products with greater ease. Basically, the Qualcomm chips will allow different manufacturers to save a lot of time bringing their connected devices to market, without developing their own voice assistant. The long game, it seems, is to incorporate a voice assistant in every speaker, TV, and device in your home – making the Echo and Home effectively pointless.  

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In fact, Google and Amazon appear to have a similar end aim to Qualcomm. Amazon has already encouraged other companies to integrate Alexa into their products, and has even made its own 7-microphone array available to manufacturers. Similarly, Google is also partnering with other device manufacturers to integrate its smart assistant in other firm’s devices.

Amazon has already begun tinkering with its Echo in anticipation of its short life span. Building in cameras and touchscreens into the Echo Look and Echo Show, implies that the future of Amazon voice assistants will have to be more than just speakers.

It appears that the days are number for dedicated voice-assistant speakers. In its place an array of voice-controlled devices will take over the home.

 

Tags: Apple, Amazon, Google, processors, qualcomm, echo, home, chip, smart speaker, voice assistant

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