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Alexa, how popular are voice assistants these days?

In some ways the growth with voice assistants and the types of information being sought mirrors the development and use of search engines.

The Amazon Echo smart speaker with Amazon's Alexa digital assistant. - James Walker
The Amazon Echo smart speaker with Amazon's Alexa digital assistant. - James Walker

According to the voice technology agency Vixen Labs, voice assistants are continuing to advance through the addition of new skills. The company has been working with Amazon to create new programs for Alexa.

Vixen Labs has issued a report (titled  the “Voice Consumer Index”) considering how people in the UK, US and Germany are using voice technology. This finds that the majority of people are now using voice technology (such as Google Home, Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa).

In addition, around one third of those polled indicate they are using a voice assistant every day. Here, most voice users operate the technology in multiple locations: on their phone (both in and out of the home), on smart speakers and in the car

The primary use of a voice assistant remains awareness (80 percent of people said their primary use was to search for products). Not only has usage increased, the proportion of people using such devices to perform online shopping has also risen. The data indicates that 41 percent of users have started to purchase products with their voice.

Other uses include financial. For instance, 32 percent of the 6,000 people surveyed identified ‘check my bank balance’ as their top priority within the ‘banking and finance’ area. This was followed by instructions to pay bills.

In some ways the growth with voice assistants and the types of information being sought mirrors the development and use of search engines (at least in the earlier years of widespread Internet use).

In addition to increased usage rates, there are a growing number of voice technologies being adopted as part of the marketing strategies of major companies in the US and UK. These include burger chain McDonald’s, which has developed an Alexa skill in the UK, enabling users to find their nearest restaurant. Other data that can be provided on request includes opening hours, and what special offers are currently available. The fast food chain has further plans to build on this voice assistant skill moving forward.

Another example of technological development is with Sony Music. The Japanese company has created Handwash Tunes. Through this skill, accessed via Alexa, the user can access international artists who have recorded 20 second audio clips to make handwashing seemingly more fun and entertaining (depending on which artist is selected).

A third new area comes with Lysol, as service that is available in the US. The firm has developed a real-time indicator, where users can ask Alexa about rates of the common cold and influenza specific to their zip code.

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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