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Voice on Voice #139 
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The Google and Samsung Symbiosis

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The long-standing relationship between Google and Samsung, often wavering and hard to follow, is entering a new chapter with wearables. Samsung mobile phones leverage Google’s Android system (which includes Google Assistant), but Samsung also offers its own Bixby voice assistant and app store in the mix. Last year, it was reported that Google and Samsung were in talks to prioritize Google Assistant and the Play Store over Bixby and the Galaxy store on Samsung phones. But in January, Google released a Nest app for Samsung’s SmartThings system, allowing users to control SmartThings devices via Google Assistant or Assistant devices via SmartThings. It appears that the two are still intent on unifying their smart device ecosystems — last week, 9to5Google found that Samsung and Google’s combined smartwatch system may leverage both of their voice assistants. With these new developments, it’s clear that Samsung and Google are still exploring how each can leverage the other’s strengths.

Dual Assistants

Google’s latest smartwatch operating platform, Wear OS 3, will soon support both Google Assistant and Samsung Bixby on the new Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 series. Previously, Wear OS only used Google Assistant. But back in May, Google announced that it was combining Wear OS with Samsung’s Tizen operating system — forming the foundation of a larger wearable partnership, which is now being set in motion. However, it seems that consumers will only be able to use one assistant at a time. With the upcoming official release of the watch and joint operating system, the two companies have made it possible for each assistant to control smart devices from the other company.
More on 9to5Google

 

Alexa, Where Can I Get Vaccinated?

Amazon introduced COVID-19 information support to Alexa users in India. Specifically, users can ask Alexa where their nearest COVID vaccination sites and testing locations are. Additionally, the devices can provide information on helpline numbers to call, the country's vaccination rates, relief efforts, and more. As COVID experiences a global resurgence, voice technology offers one more channel to connect people with real-time information. Especially in India, conversational platforms have been successful during the pandemic — 30 million citizens used the government’s WhatsApp chatbot that shared COVID information and health precautions.
More on Voicebot.ai

Voice Commerce Cashes In

A new report by Juniper Research found that voice assistant transactions are projected to reach $19.4 billion by 2023, a sharp increase from $4.6 billion in 2021 but also a sharp revision to its previous forecast of $80 billion by 2023, made in 2019. The firm believes that a large driver of this growth will be the increase of voice assistant devices with screens that will be available to consumers. As we discussed in our recent blog, the absence of a visual confirmation when purchasing via a smart speaker is daunting to many shoppers who use voice. As a result, shopping via smart displays adds a layer of security and comfort to the checkout process. With smart display adoption rising, and as Google, Amazon, and even Apple release updated versions of their own products, voice commerce is primed for revitalization.
More on BusinessWire

By the Numbers

69%

The share that Amazon has of the US smart speaker market as of June 2021. (data from CIRP via GeekWire)

$10M

The funding that Deepgram’s Startup Program has to provide companies with voice recognition technology. (data via VentureBeat)

Emerging Tech Stories 

  • Travel Without the Hassle. Augmented reality and virtual reality are becoming attractive technologies for tourism companies to drive virtual experiences.
  • Robot Race. As companies look to increase operational efficiencies in the supply chain, warehouse robots are emerging as viable tools for automation.

  • Autonomous Farming. Farming equipment manufacturer John Deere acquired Bear Flag Robotics, an autonomous tractor company.

Beyond Bourdain:
The Ethics & Economics of Voice Synthesis Technology

The use of voice synthesis in the film Roadrunner sparked heated debate, but we’re only scratching the surface of the challenges — and the upsides — that this technology presents. In this piece, we dive deep into the moral imperatives to both advance and constrain voice synthesis technology, as well as the significant commercial and creative considerations at hand.
Read more
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