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Voice on Voice #149 
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Data at the Drive-Thru

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The past year has seen a flurry of voice activity in the QSR space, particularly in the drive-thru. White Castle, McDonald’s, and this week, Wendy’s, are all deploying voice to take customer orders. While voice ordering isn’t a novel use case, these implementations illustrate how valuable voice can be when paired with complementary technology. For example, vehicle recognition software combined with voice recognition can identify customers during their next visit, then tailor suggestions and menus to their specific preferences based on previous orders. And with voice biometric technology quickly advancing, companies may soon be able to determine certain attributes about their customers. However, harnessing these insights via voice treads a fine line between infringing on privacy and attempting to serve hyper-personalized convenience — an Illinois customer sued McDonald’s for violating a state privacy law with its voice ordering technology.

Can I Order a Frosty?

Fast food company Wendy’s has partnered with Google Cloud to bring voice AI and other technology like computer-vision software to its restaurants. Wendy’s is exploring using Google’s voice-recognition software to take customer orders at the drive-thru and through phone calls, and then transcribing the orders into text that the cooks can reference. Farther into the future, Wendy’s CIO is envisioning how voice AI might be leveraged to identify recurring customers, creating more convenient experiences with personalization and suggestions. Fast food companies have already deployed voice AI at their locations, and more restaurants are following suit as they realize the efficiency and data-driven insights that the technology can yield. 
More on WSJ

Car Tunes

Spotify’s “Car Thing,” its voice-enabled in-car device for controlling music, is now available to any US user who signs up to be on the waitlist. However, Car Thing will first be available to the users who signed up for the waitlist in April. The device can be mounted in the car and has touch, voice (“Hey Spotify”), and physical controls that listeners can use to access their favorite Spotify content. As more drivers turn to voice assistants in the car, major voice assistants are seeking to expand their share of the market. Now, the companies that create and control content are also exploring how their own products might provide more personalized and superior experiences directly to their customers.
More on TechCrunch

Fresh Frames

Electronics company Anker launched its smart audio glasses line, Soundcore Frames. The audio glasses have a built-in voice assistant, touch controls, and speakers and microphones for listening to music and taking calls. Users can change the assistant’s wake word/phrase and the glasses’ touch controls via the mobile app. Additionally, customers can swap out the frames portion of the glasses to experiment with different styles. As more smart glasses enter the market, companies are tapping several different technologies including AR and voice for more compelling assistive experiences. While Anker’s glasses line is audio only, it paves the way for adoption by consumers who are looking to get a taste of the value of smart glasses.
More on Voicebot.ai

By the Numbers

72%

of smartphones are projected to use voice assistants in 2023. (data via Juniper Research)

$50M

was raised by Wizard Commerce, a conversational commerce startup. (data via Voicebot.ai)

Emerging Tech Stories 

  • Wearable Health. Apple is exploring how future AirPods models may include thermometers to track users’ temperatures and sensors to monitor posture.

  • Point of View. Facebook has collected 2,000+ hours of footage shot in first-person to train its next-generation AI models that can be used in its AR products in the future.

  • Enterprise, Elevated. Magic Leap raised $500M to help launch its enterprise AR headset next year.
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