Voice on Voice #140 
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One of the most popular use cases of smart speakers is playing music, with 60% of smart speakers users saying they use their devices to play music. As a result, it’s no surprise that streaming companies are building robust voice strategies to tap into this preference. For example, Spotify unveiled its in-app mobile assistant that allows listeners to choose songs, stations, and playlists as well as play, pause, and skip tracks. On the other hand, device manufacturers that are focused on the home audio and entertainment environment are also rethinking how they can tap voice technology to craft quality listening experiences. Brands from Bose to JBL have already built mainstream voice assistants into popular products, and now Sonos will take its voice experience one step further by building a Sonos voice assistant for its devices. While these are significant developments, the music industry holds vast potential for novel cases of voice activation.

Hey Sonos

Speaker and sound system company Sonos is exploring building its own custom voice assistant for its devices. A Sonos consumer survey revealed that the proposed “Sonos Voice Control” would be available with Amazon Alexa on select speakers, would respond to the phrase “Hey Sonos,” and would process requests offline (in contrast with mainstream assistants that need internet connection). However, the Sonos voice assistant would only handle requests related to music playback — including skipping songs, controlling volume, and more — while Alexa would respond to general queries. As more companies have an eye toward creating their own custom assistants, hardware that houses two assistants, one for company-specific prompts and one for more general queries, is becoming popular to ensure a valuable voice experience.
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Assistant Goes Back to School

To prepare for the upcoming back to school season, Google launched a series of new kid-focused updates for Google Assistant. First, Family Bell — which allows users to air announcements across a group of devices — is now available on mobile devices for easier contact with family members throughout the day. Family Bell will also soon be able to start checklists on Nest Hub smart displays, which can be leveraged for morning school routines. Additionally, new content from Pottermore Publishing and The English Schoolhouse will provide more interactive experiences for children on Nest Hubs. With these features, Google is advancing its goal to frame the Assistant as the go-to, at-home communication and organization hub for busy families.
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Skip the Phone Call 

Medical practice Westmed Medical Group introduced its Alexa skill for patients. The skill was initially launched to mitigate the burden on employees who were fielding an influx of calls during the pandemic. As a result, the voice experience can: 1) Schedule COVID testing or clearance at urgent care centers as well as provide wait times and locations, 2) book appointments, and 3) share health tips. Westmed Medical Group is one of many companies realizing the value of conversational AI to help both employees and patients, especially during the pandemic — for example, Orbita deployed chatbots to help organizations answer questions related to COVID, and Walgreens built a voice assistant within its customer service phone line to help book vaccination appointments.
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By the Numbers


was raised by call center automation platform Talkdesk. (data via VentureBeat)


smart speakers were installed in the US as of June 2021. (data from CIRP via GeekWire)

Emerging Tech Stories 

  • CyberDog. Chinese tech company Xiaomi debuted its new robotic dog that can respond to voice commands.
  • Double take. Nvidia revealed that its virtual April GTC keynote presentation featured a computer-generated model of its CEO that was programmed to copy his gestures and expressions.

  • Better, Faster, Stronger. Samsung Bixby voice requests will be processed on device on its new foldable phones, making the assistant 35% faster.

The Voice of Healthcare Summit

Join us this Thursday at 1:30 pm EDT for a discussion on how voice and conversational AI is transforming the healthcare industry! RAIN’s Dale LaRue, Sr. Director, Customer Success, will share compelling use cases, challenges, and predictions for voice in healthcare.
Making technology invisible, one conversation at a time.
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