Alexa & AI address Advanced Asks


Internet input/output is dominated by typing and reading/watching our smartphones. But two new devices for which voice control is central are starting to change the world. Are you ready for the wrist and personal butler revolution where your voice replaces your fingers for control?


Voice control
Two new device types, where voice control is central, are exciting to explore. The smart watches’ small screen makes your fingers seem really fat, so voice control is a vital input mechanism. And the Amazon Echo represents a new type of “digital butler,” where the primary I/O mechanism is voice even though you can access the services through a smartphone app too.

Translating between text and voice started in the late 1990s and the technology has now matured to a point where it is stable and very useful. Modern technology can understand your English, even if you speak with an accent. By eliminating the need to pull up a device, the service opportunity space grows. Using your voice to control services is a more natural form of communicating than typing on a screen. Zero training is required to learn, as the voice interpreter can interpret normal talk.

Application space expansion
The typical American pulls up a phone 46 times per day.  But the need to pull up the device to start using services is a restricting factor for many micro services. Voice control can circumvent these limitations. You can start giving commands in the car without reducing attention to the traffic. You can give commands when you cook or eat at home. You can unlock doors when you are carrying things in your hands. You can start controlling the growing number of devices in your home, where the need for the smartphone as a control panel only can be reduced.

In essence, you enable a variety of new micro services where the use today is restricted by the need for initiation and control from a smartphone. The ability to control media consumption services, make to-do list additions and get answers to more questions leverage these new control mechanisms from the start.

The potential to control connected home devices, like Hue lighting solutions and WeMo home automation solutions is an application space where voice control makes a lot of sense.

Artificial Intelligence
Voice control and artificial intelligence go hand in hand for these new applications. The first exciting aspect is to use an “activation word” to separate out voice control commands from general conversations. By triggering micro services with a code word – like “Alexa” – you can ensure the relevant control commands are sorted out.

Cloud-based intelligence at the back-end is improving the answer relevance and applicability to a new level. There is a distinction between voice controlled web search and AI supported answers that is visible as an important differentiator.

Predictions for the future
Voice control has developed in accuracy and relevance and the following is likely to happen in the future:

  • Voice control will become an important complement to screen typing for service control.
  • Voice control will be most relevant for micro services where many small daily commands can be simplified.
  • The back-end of the AI development is crucial to increase the hit rate in finding a relevant answer to your ask.
  • The control of many IoT applications is likely to develop with voice control, the first and foremost.
  • Our trust in biometric technology will expand from finger prints to voice prints as a basis for secure authentications.

This post was originally published at the Ericsson Networked Society blog.

Ring Revolution Reduce Reactions

©Peter Linder 2014 – All rights reserved
©Peter Linder 2014 – All rights reserved

Networked rings represent a new type of technology wearable, emerging as part of the smartphone ecosystem. At Fashion Week 2014 in New York City, Ringblingzintroduced their first ring connected to a smartphone. So what role do we see fashion accessories such as rings playing in the Networked Society?

As I outlined in my blog post on networked watches, most wearables that are connected to a smartphone and are accompanied by an app. A networked ring is a smaller notification device than the phone-watch combination and further exploits the technology miniaturization potential. The screen size takes us back to the early mobile phone days, when 20 characters were visible to the user. Vibration is a vital trigger for the user and short range radios connect the ring to your phone.

These first networked rings are targeting younger user segments. The design of the ring is a key buying criteria since it is as much a fashion statement as it is a communication device. Networked rings belong to one of the 4-5 wearable tech product categories (together with watches, activity bracelets, health monitors and life-logs) with mass market potential.

The primary applications for networked rings are social media notifications and lifestyle trackers. The differentiation in relation to watches and bracelets will be its small size and stylish look. Aggregating data from a variety of sources and screening out the most relevant is an attractive tool for reducing information overload. New smartphone generations, with larger screens, can remain the pocket or purse for basic information tracking.

My predictions for the near-term future of wearable tech are:

* All wearables will be designed as slaves to smartphones, with short haul radio, dedicated smartphone apps and motion sensors as basic ingredients.
* Wearable design will continue to grow in importance and rings are born into a fashion category from start.
* 1-2 wearable devices will gain mass market appeal in 2014, opening up for a breakthrough for networked rings.
* Use will be reactive and triggered by light buzzes, prior to watching the micro screen.

Finding Fitness Foresight Formula

© Peter Linder 2014 – All rights reserved
© Peter Linder 2014 – All rights reserved

The wellbeing of ‘cityzens’ is dependent on individuals taking a greater responsibility for being active. Running in the parks or workout sessions at the gym are common in urban areas but what will we demand in the form of measurement when these activities move beyond the fitness freaks and become mainstream in the city?

The ability to measure and track physical exercise is widespread among the most fitness-aware parts of the population. These practitioners track their workouts and running sessions with dedicated devices. They upload results and compare with friends with defined goals and targets. They move in to the exercise, get the job done and move out to their next mission.

There is a potential to leverage our daily movements and open up for the broader population to embrace measuring fitness and their personal lifestyle. By measuring our daily walks we might step off the bus one stop earlier on a good day and add a healthy 5-minute walk. We might select the stairs instead of elevators as we move around in the office. And we might choose restaurants further away to get in a healthy micro-lunch walk. Smart wearables with applications in our smartphones might support this development.

In many physically intensive professions, it is not so much about adding movement as it is about preventing unnecessary ones, or rather to track the intensity of the really hard ones. Location information and connectivity for instant access to employee’s wellbeing is emerging across many sectors. All of these factors is enabling a more health-aware lifestyle where we can measure and improve all areas where we would like to drive personal change.

My predictions for the future of preventive healthcare in cities are:
– Measuring and monitoring physical activities will move from fitness freaks to mainstream for all ‘cityzens’
– Dedicated devices will be complemented by wearables and applications coupled to smartphones
– Data will be stored in the cloud and automatically uploaded without manual intervention.