The recent case of a child accidentally ordering a dollhouse through voice shopping commands shows that AI home assistants still need to improve. Besides gaining sophistication, virtual assistants need to start reacting instinctively to different user profiles. Developing a new level of intelligence will be crucial for the AI home assistant market to consolidate and address the emerging lack of confidence that users are showing toward AI use at home.
Even though AI is still at the experimental stage in many use-case scenarios, AI home assistants are already making great strides in the smart home market. However, the recent incident of a six-year-old girl accidently ordering a dollhouse through Amazon Echo made it clear that most AI assistants available in the market still need further development before they offer the seamless smart home experience they promise.
From a functionality point of view, the AI home assistant market is in its early days. AI assistants are showing great potential for multiple use cases and applications, but they still need time to mature. This hasn't stopped vendors in the smart home industry from commercially launching voice shopping services. Virtual assistants are making inroads into the commercial market, despite lacking the important mechanics that detect the unique voice signature of individual users, causing problems for consumers.
Virtual assistants' inability to distinguish between voices has led users to be more cautious about the commercial transactions they carry out, sometimes discouraging them from using voice shopping services altogether. Amazon enabled voice shopping functionality in all Amazon Echo devices, but lack of confidence has pushed many users to disable this feature or enable a confirmation code to prevent accidental purchases.
Because virtual assistants may fail to recognize different members of the household instinctively, certain features may need to be manually turned off to protect the household as a whole. This limits the overall capabilities of an AI assistant and ultimately its usefulness. To continue to appeal to a wide user base, vendors need to continue to develop their voice recognition software so that virtual assistants can easily identify different household members without asking them to request – through an additional voice command – a profile switch to have access to their details and user preferences. AI home assistants need to start handling multiple accounts automatically, responding in a more intelligent way based on who is speaking.
The current limitations of AI assistants to recognize the unique voice signature of individual users (and then act accordingly based on the profile of that person) require market players to continue investing in R&D in an attempt to provide the ultimate personal experience at home. Until this happens, consumers' enthusiasm for AI will lessen and they will become frustrated by the technology's limitations. A world where AI home assistants adapt to users is still far from becoming a reality.
Mariana Zamoszczyk, Senior Analyst, Consumer Services
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