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Voice on Voice #144 
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Fourth Time’s the Charm?

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It hasn’t been smooth sailing for smart glasses. Marked by the failure of Google Glass (now repositioned for enterprise use), which was initially introduced in 2013, smart glasses are experiencing a revival as many other tech companies try their hand at the accessory. Snap released the Snap Spectacles to let users take pictures and videos, and they now sport AR and voice capabilities. Amazon’s Echo Frames are embedded with Alexa. This week, Facebook enlisted EssilorLuxottica to unveil Ray-Ban Stories. It’s clear that major tech companies see the potential for smart glasses, especially when paired with voice assistants. While these devices are getting less clunky and adding on more capabilities, it remains to be seen if they are compelling enough to spur widespread adoption. Early critiques pointing to Facebook’s privacy track record are already rolling in.

Smart Shades

Facebook released its long-awaited Ray-Ban Stories, its line of smart glasses built in partnership with EssilorLuxottica. The glasses are equipped with cameras and microphones, allowing users to take pictures and videos and even make calls. But perhaps the most compelling feature is the integration of the Facebook Assistant. By saying “Hey Facebook,” users can take pictures and record video without their hands. The connected Facebook View app stores the footage, which can be downloaded, edited, and shared to social media. While the Facebook Assistant can only perform basic tasks, its deployment hints at the company’s budding voice aspirations and where the tech might fit into its virtual and augmented reality “metaverse.”
More on Facebook

Find Me Something to Binge Watch 

Amazon is launching its own smart TVs: the Amazon Fire TV 4-Series and the Amazon Fire TV Omni Series. While the company has previously partnered with manufacturers like Toshiba to create Fire TVs, the new TV lines are the first to be built by Amazon itself. The TVs will be controllable via Alexa without the need for a voice-controlled remote — viewers can use commands to alter volume, switch channels, search for content, and even be recommended what to watch by Alexa. The voice assistant can even be used when the TV is off. By commanding full control of its TVs, Amazon is taking greater control of the smart home hub of the living room.
More on CNET

Can I Get the Classic Roast Beef Sandwich? 

An Arby’s location in California has tapped a drive-thru voice assistant to take customer orders. The assistant, named Tori, was installed to mitigate staffing issues due to the ongoing labor shortage. The employees who originally worked at the drive-thru were moved to other positions at the drive-thru and kitchen. Voice assistants at the quick-service drive-thru are quickly becoming more prevalent — White Castle, McDonald’s and Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken are a few restaurants that have deployed the technology at their locations, showcasing how voice technology can drive efficiency and time savings by shouldering the repetitive, time-consuming tasks of employees.
More on Business Insider

By the Numbers

41%

of US voice assistant users who are ages 65+ use Amazon Alexa. (data via eMarketer)

$14M

was raised by PolyAI, a conversational AI startup that builds voice assistants for customer service. (data via TechCrunch)

Emerging Tech Stories 

  • Nurse Grace. Robotics company Hanson Robotics introduced Grace, its healthcare robot that can take patients’ temperatures and pulses and speak three languages. 
  • Smart Clothing. Fitness wearable company Whoop released the new Whoop 4.0, which can track blood oxygen levels and skin temperature, and even be worn on clothes.

  • New Gear. Apple is expected to launch the new iPhone 13, Apple Watch Series 7, and AirPods 3 at its event tomorrow.

The Self-Service Conundrum: Is “Easier Said Than Done” Attainable?

While we can have virtually any product delivered to our doorstep in mere days or even hours, we may also spend hours on the phone waiting to be connected to a customer service agent. Customer service experiences need to leverage a delicate balance of chatbots, IVR, and voice, and human support to maximize support when customers need it most.
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