There is an interesting war being waged now in the technology world. A war that will change how we interact with technology, significantly, over the next 12 to 24 months. First off, I am not picking a winner, nor am I advocating a side. I have an Amazon Echo in my home (3 in fact), and I have a Google Home. Most likely I will add the Microsoft speaker featuring Cortana when it is available.
I had and did publish a while ago, a study I did with the four primary voice activated systems. Alexa (Amazon), Google Home (Google), Cortana (Microsoft) and Siri (Apple). I tested them in low noise, with complex commands, as well as high noise environments with complex commands. I use simple commands as well to verify abilities.
Siri was the least able to perform, both Siri and Alexa are the most hardware bound (I have two different devices that use Alexa one made by Amazon and one made by Nucleus).
Let’s discard Siri based on performance (it was horrible in comparison to the other three) and let’s now focus on what the goals of the three companies are.
1. MSFT is last to the market with their speaker (coming this summer).
2. Amazon has the largest entertainment library, second only to Apple but we are discounting Siri, so Amazon wins.
3. Google has the largest installed base of non-speaker IoT devices (NEST) right now. That will change soon, but for now, they are tops.
4. MSFT has the largest connection to the gaming community, but this new speaker is a reboot of the previous Kinect system..
The living room has long been a battleground, Microsoft, Sony, Samsung, Nintendo and other entertainment heavyweights have long gone to battle in the space. Amazon entered with the FireTV, Google with the Chromecast, both are doing well. Amazon and Google both offer extensive interactive catalogs of online media as well (Microsoft has built a great library, but without a dominant mobile device the still struggle beyond the PC).
All of this leading us to what is next. Voice control has a huge future in home automation. It has a huge future in isolated settings. It has a small future on crowded trains or crowded airplanes. (No officer I wasn’t yelling at the person in front of me, I was yelling at my phone. It refused to change the radio station).
Ambient noise still causes issues for all four voice activation systems. Additionally the nature of the room you use the speaker in limits it as well.
I am curious to see if the MSFT team has another Hololens on their hands with the new Cortana-based speaker, or if being late to the market also means they end up with another product that fails to launch.