Top news stories for Episode 17 (November 2, 2017):

1) Inc. Magazine: Amazon's Best Kept Secret? Alexa Can Help "Kill Email Overload"

2) Sonos will add Alexa-enabled Spotify integration by 12/21, while new Echo hardware is getting some hate from the press. If you buy just one #voicefirst device this holiday season, which one is it?

3) Apple's HomePod will rely on a linked iPhone or iPad for processing of several Siri queries. So, in other words, you need an iPhone or iPad alongside your HomePod for optimum effect.

4) Voicebot.ai Story Of The Week: Now You Can Share Alexa Skills Via Social Media

5) The Amazon Echo joins such luminaries as Kenny G and Santa Claus himself on the red carpet for the premiere of "A Bad Moms Christmas."

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Panel for Episode 17 (November 2, 2017):

Jochen Emig

Co-founder of ONSEI, a voice SaaS platform which is used to design, develop, and host voice interfaces for Alexa and Google Assistant.

Aaron Emigh

Aaron Emigh is CEO and co-founder of Brilliant, a smart lighting system and new way to control your home.

Leon Mueller

Co-founder of ONSEI, a voice SaaS platform which is used to design, develop, and host voice interfaces for Alexa and Google Assistant

Transcript:

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:00:12] Hi and welcome back to This Week In Voice Episode 17 for Thursday November 2nd, 2017. My name is Bradley Metrock. I'm CEO of a company based in Nashville, Tennessee called Score Publishing. This Week In Voice is brought to you by VoiceXP, blazing the trail in voice technology. VoiceXP is taking the lead in developing Alexa Skills for some of the best brands in the world. With VoiceXP, all you have to do is say it to revolutionize your marketing strategy. VoiceXP, I can't speak highly enough of them. They're good friends of ours. If you're listening to the podcast or any VoiceFirst FM show you owe it to yourself go check them out they're doing great work. www.VoiceXP. com. We are thrilled to have a great panel today. Hailing from overseas we've got Jochen Emig, and Leon Muller as well. Both of you guys are with ONSEI, so introduce yourselves.

 

Leon Muller: [00:01:11] Hi, I'm Leon and we are both based in Berlin. ONSEI is Japanese for "Voice" and we started a year ago. Jochen and I met actually on an IBM Hackathon in which we won together with our first Alexa Skill that we built for a Berlin transport company BVG and from then on we grew and got more clients on board and developed the platform. It's a pleasure to be here. Thank you so much for having us.

 

Jochen Emig: [00:01:38] My name is Jochen Emig. Leon already mentioned how we co-founded ONSEI together, which really grew more from a hobby....we've both been voice enthusiasts for a while. We've been building Skills before the Alexa even came to Europe. We built those Skills in English and obviously now in multiple languages.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:01:55] Thank you both very much for joining us. It's unusual to have two co-founders of a company on This Week In Voice. So if you guys have any disagreements, which I'm sure never ever happens, sort those out. No, I'm teasing you. Thank you both very much for joining us today. Next we have Aaron Emigh, am I pronouncing that right?

 

Aaron Emigh: [00:02:17] Absolutely.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:02:18] Aaron, thank you very much for joining us again. Aaron is the CEO and founder of Brilliant. We were fortunate to have him on the Alexa podcast a couple of weeks back. Aaron, say hello, and thank you for joining us.

 

Aaron Emigh: [00:02:30] Thank you very much. Pleased to be here. Brilliant is a company that is changing the way that smart home controls work. It's a new kind of smart home control that replaces a standard light switch with no additional wiring needed. And it gives you voice access to the Alexa platform and it also gives you a touch screen. So it's a complementary user experience and it lets you control all of the smart devices in your house, from anywhere in your house.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:03:00] I love it. I love what you guys do. It's very cool. I encourage people to check y'all out at brilliant.tech. Aaron, thank you for joining us today.

 

Aaron Emigh: [00:03:09] Thank you.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:03:10] OK. So with that, let's get to the news. Our first story this week is an interesting one to me. I'm sure it is for many other people as well. I dream of the day that e-mail will become more manageable and seeing someone at Inc. magazine write about how Alexa and other voice assistants in the future will help manage that ... that really caught my eye. I thought it was fascinating. So Aaron, I'm going to start with you on this, what did you think about this article and do you think that Alexa and other voice assistants will be able to help with tasks like this to the extent the article describes?

 

Aaron Emigh: [00:03:51] Well, I think that email overload is a real problem and a lot of us suffer from it, even to the point that we sort of failed to answer e-mails that we really should, if we only would have the time to read them. So I understand the appeal of this but I think this article isn't really talking about a voice assistant at all, I think it's really talking about deep AI that would really understand your e-mail and help you to process it. And Alexa isn't really that, right? I mean Alexa is a voice system and a set of integrations. It's not really deep natural language understanding, as anyone who's tried to talk to it for a while knows.

 

Aaron Emigh: And I think honestly there are a lot of companies that are making more generally capable AI than Amazon is with the Alexa platform. I also feel like a voice assistant, for all the wonderful things....and obviously none of us would be here if we didn't believe in voice assistants. But for all the wonderful things that it can do, it's the last thing you want to replace e-mail with because the big problem with e-mail is that there's too much of it to process. But visual processing is many times faster than voice processing, so listening to your e-mail is going to be a big step backwards in the speed of processing it. So honestly, this is kind of a story written by somebody who doesn't really understand AI and just thinks that Alexa equals AI or necessarily the capabilities of the various players involved in the AI landscape.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:05:20] You're raining on my parade. I was getting my hopes up here. No, I hear what you're saying and obviously I think that's why the author sort of throws this arbitrary date of 2020 in there, it's pretty unclear. It's just the year 2020 thrown around in the article a bunch for no good reason. But the reason really is exactly what you just articulated, that at some point Alexa and these other voice assistants will have to make the jump into a more AI-mediated "creature". I think that's the underlying assumption here. But yeah your point is ... you made many points there, all of which are well taken. Jochen and Leon, I'll let you guys choose which order you go in. Give us your feedback on this article as well and tell us what you think.

 

Jochen Emig: [00:06:07] Well, I completely agree with his statements. Because when we look at the voice interfaces, we look at them as interfaces. There's a lot we can do in the future, but the underlying technology here we're talking about and AI technology that sorts and analyzes e-mails. It has nothing to do with the voice interface itself. So while I wouldn't doubt that there's going to be a platform or providers in the future that offer Skills that will read out emails and notify you of e-mails. But I don't think that's territory that Google or Alexa themselves are going after right now. I mean, the whole reason they have people writing third-party Skills is to take over some aspects of the back-end.

 

Leon Muller: [00:06:56] I completely agree with Jochen and Aaron on this one. It's more of an AI topic and people are already working on it. And as the article actually also mentions is that Amazon doesn't really go into productivity and work stuff too much. So I'm not sure if they're building something themselves, but other people will probably build something. And I also think that some email could get sorted it and then that could add value. But Alexa reading out everything might get tricky.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:07:31] Yeah, that's a great analysis all the way around. I think there's a lot of assumptions obviously being made in the piece and you all have touched on those. And even if somebody today came up with the Alexa Skill that looked at my e-mail and said, "OK, from this group, this group, this group, and this group, you haven't opened an email from any of these four groups an average of eight months. Do you want to unsubscribe from these e-mails? Yes/no?" And that I can simply say the word yes, and boom I'm unsubscribed from those four e-mails. You know it's something like that where your voice can actually save time rather than what Aaron was describing about e-mails being read out and being the step backward. Hopefully that's what some companies some enterprising companies are thinking about for how this sort of jump can be made. But yeah, it's just an interesting glimpse into the future. Any other comments on this?

 

Aaron Emigh: [00:08:27] Well, I guess one thing is also that people are naturally thinking about Alexa when they think when they think "assistant", but if there's a company that's well positioned to transform e-mail in this way, it's not Amazon, it's Google, because Google runs the biggest e-mail service on the planet and already deploys a lot of natural language understanding to try to understand what's going on there to help target things to you. So they would be far better positioned in the future, and I think that the future is a multi-assistant future where you're talking to different assistants for different things that they're good at and Alexa is going to be good. It's already good at some things is going to be good at a lot more. But I wouldn't bet against Google on e-mail.

 

Jochen Emig: [00:09:14] I think there's a very good point because Google Assistant on the phones can already write e-mails for you, so you can quickly respond to e-mails on the Google Assistant, on the phone. I don't think it's available on the Google Home itself. But that's only a small stepping stone. So yeah, Google is definitely positioned to go after this.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:09:36] Excellent points all the way around. That's great, and we will leave that there, because obviously that's way off in the future but it's something to keep an eye on as it's exactly what was articulated, you know, how can voice assistants evolve over time to help us be more productive, but I appreciate your analyses on that. Moving on to story number two, Sonos will add Alexa-enabled Spotify integration by late December, December 21st was the date provided for that, while new Echo hardware, a lot of that was announced all in the same press event if you recall a few weeks back by Amazon. It's getting some hate. People aren't feeling it. The cost was lowered on the second-generation Echo and that's gotten some praise from people like, "Maybe there could have been more done there." And I actually find it interesting that some of those types of reviews are being written. So the question here and Jochen, I will start with you and Leon, if you get one device....there's a ton of devices coming out, it's almost too many for any human being to keep up with there's so many different voice-first devices coming out with all of Amazon's stuff to the Google Home Max to the Google Home Mini to the HomePod, this that, and the other, and Microsoft's Harman/Kardon speaker....if you only get one this holiday season, which one is it and why?

 

Jochen Emig: [00:10:53] That's an interesting question. I'm going to say it this way. I know there's a lot coming out. And one thing you have to remember here is that in Germany, we get a fraction of the devices released in the U.S. So we don't get all the Echo devices, for example....at least not in the beginning. The Echo Show is just being released on November 16th in Europe, and we don't get the little Show alarm clock (Echo Spot). There's no date for that yet. The one device I actually saw at a show here was a Google Home device from Panasonic that just was amazing, from sound, from features, from everything. I think it's going to be available this Christmas season. It had everything from a LAN port to nice little display on top. While personally I'm still favoring Alexa, that speaker just blew me away.

 

Leon Muller: [00:11:42] I will probably go for actually the Echo Show, which we already have. So we have the Echo show already obviously both in the U.S. and abroad here, but I think Echo Show with the screen is actually quite interesting it's not pure voice but it adds for a lot of other brands and companies and adds a lot of value to show something in the screen. Either that one or the ... I mean I'd be curious about the Siri HomePod, because to speak as a parent, it's really good.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:12:12] Yeah. And I can profess to the love of the Echo Show. I have talked about it on this show and others before. Absolutely. My favorite device to come out of this voice-first movement so far. So I definitely highly recommend it. Aaron, what are your thoughts? What device would you choose out of the different options?

 

Aaron Emigh: [00:12:31] Well the Brilliant control, of course. It's going to transform your relationship with your house.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:12:35] I knew you were going to say that.

 

Aaron Emigh: [00:12:37] The Sonos One that's mentioned in the article sounds a lot better than the Echo Plus, and they'll work the kinks out of it. That sort of audio product is a strong choice. But overall, I'm going to go with more of a control-oriented product. I'm going to go with the Echo spot. It has a screen, as well as voice, and I think that that dual-mode UI is really important. And although the screen is too small, it's a heck of a lot of a better looking device than the Echo Show is and a little less obtrusive when it comes to cluttering up your tabletop, so Echo Spot for me.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:13:06] Very cool. I appreciate y'all taking on that question. I think it's just very interesting to hear people in the field everyday, like each of the three of you think through that....and the different products that some of these bigger companies are coming out with are speaking to the things that you look for in it. So I appreciate that. Moving on to question number three. So as anybody who listens to this podcast knows, Apple is doing a lot of things these days that I don't agree with. I think they've, in many ways, sort of lost their way and this is turning out to be a little bit of a contentious issue that I've seen on Twitter and some other people discussing. Apple's HomePod will rely on a linked iPhone or iPad for processing a lot of the different Siri queries that can be thrown its way, which is pretty interesting. So that means you go and buy the HomePod and you spend 350 dollars, plus tax, which is well more than double the second generation Echo, quite a bit more than the Echo Show, which I've already said that it's the best tech juggernaut device on the market. You're paying all this money and, oh, guess what? You get it home and you find out you've got to have an iPhone or iPad to really make it do half of the stuff it's supposed to do. And so Aaron....especially with your background with Brilliant and everything. Give me your feedback on this. Is that not that big of a deal or is this a huge deal?

 

Aaron Emigh: [00:14:35] Well, when it comes down to it, Apple has really taken the point of view that the HomePod is an audio product first and foremost, it's not really a digital assistant product first and foremost. It's for really Apple-centric people who want something that's beautiful. They're going to be using AirPlay, they're all bought into that, they love the fancy spatial imaging stuff, and they've really gone all in on their walled garden approach. And I think they'll have to evolve it over time, because they will want a serious entrant in the assistant appliance space. But this isn't dead. You know, maybe they'll evolve the original HomePod, maybe it will be a later generation, but they also really need to open Siri up to if they want to compete with platforms like Alexa in a serious way. So for now I think the HomePod is really for Apple partisans who want to listen to music, not voice-first control.

 

Jochen Emig: [00:15:30] I completely agree with Aaron. We also have rumors ... it's not the first time we've seen Apple do something like this. When the first Apple Watch came out, it was required that you had a phone with it for any functionality whatsoever. No app was able to work by itself without a phone being around. It took them about a year until they decoupled the two technologies and now you can use Apple Watch independently, mostly. I'm assuming they're going to see the same thing here with the HomePod because Siri needs to open up. I mean, the Siri use cases, I think are still limited to nine different categories, and it's very early stages. I'm assuming once we have this Siri kit then they will also decouple it and you should be able to use it by itself. At least that's what I'm hoping for.

 

Leon Muller: [00:16:19] I completely agree with both of them. It's built for Apple fans. It's typically overpriced and high quality. I mean, it's quite expensive compared to the other devices. It's probably for fans first and then as Jochen said, it will open up, probably in a year's time for us.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:16:36] So let's stay on the Apple subject for just a minute. There's a lot of different opinions out there on the different things that Apple should and should not be doing with Siri and I just heard all of you all articulate that they should open Siri up and to different people that can mean a lot of different things. Let me get y'all on the record just to say that if you could have Apple do one thing right away in terms of opening Siri up ... give me something specific beyond just opening Siri up. What is something specific that you'd like to see Apple do right away if you could just snap your fingers and have a genie do that for you. Jochen, I'll start with you on this.

 

Jochen Emig: [00:17:16] I'm going to say it in two parts. There should be an independent app store for Siri apps and voice-only Skills so you don't have to have the app with it.

 

Leon Muller: [00:17:24] Yeah, same, opening it up ... I think it always sparks creativity and it's just cool to empower more people to build stuff on a platform. Building basically a skill store for Siri and making it open, that's something we like.

 

Aaron Emigh: [00:17:42] Well, I think the proliferation of third party devices like a Brilliant control that can give you access to assistants without requiring the proprietary hardware from that assistant company is also really essential. So open up the ability for third parties to a Siri endpoint where you're talking to a Brilliant control or non-Apple smart watch or whatever, and be able to communicate with Siri through third party devices.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:18:14] Thank you all for sharing that. Hopefully Apple will start to get on the ball with this stuff, but I've got a suspicion that they're going to have the HomePod come out and see that it is not going to get the reception that they're hoping for. I mean I think it's probably the best possible scenario is that the HomePod gets terrible reviews, because only then would they go back to the drawing board and start to accept more possibilities. If the HomePod gets lukewarm reviews or even good reviews, I think that Apple Store sort of stay in this dead zone for a while longer. And that's not going to be you know that's not the best-case scenario for anybody following this technology. So it'll be interesting to watch. I appreciate you all sharing your analysis on that.

 

Bradley Metrock: Story number four is our VoiceBot.AI story of the week. So each week for This Week In Voice, we have a VoiceBot.AI story of the week. We're big fans of what Bret Kinsella and his crew at VoiceBot.AI that are doing and reporting. The story this week is, now you can share Alexa Skills via social media. And this is sort of eye opening, and there's a lot of great points made in this article, I encourage you to check it out. But in a world where we've got thousands and thousands of Alexa Skills. And discover-ability, as always becomes the case with this App Store sort of sort of model, is becoming more and more of a problem. Social media is here to perhaps be part of the solution. And I think....my take on this is that this has a lot of potential to be a very positive development. But I want to ask the panel if you agree and sort of what you took away from this article, and I will start with you, Jochen. What did you think about this? Do you think this will help discoverability for the Alexa Skills moving forward?

 

Jochen Emig: [00:20:05] Definitely, I think it will help discoverability. I think this has been something developers have been wishing for a long time, and not just companies like us, but hobby developers we've talked to. Because it's hard sometimes finding the Skills and this way you can share them. You can see that most Skills out there are written by hobby enthusiasts and they don't have any way of marketing, they are not going to get featured in a store. So this is a great way to help independent people accomplish Skills and then share with their friends, share on a broader network over Twitter. I think it's a great feature personally.

 

Leon Muller: [00:20:44] I totally agree. I mean, sharing is a powerful feature and I think they just implemented it quite late, because there weren't too many Skills to share. But now, it got too full. Now it's important to help people....to get help with the discovery as you mentioned before. And I think as you mentioned, it can help a lot of small developers and enthusiasts to spread the word about what they've built.

 

Aaron Emigh: [00:21:14] I think it's a smart move, but I don't think it's a transformative move. I think that this solves a particular problem where you want a skill that your friend has or that you're otherwise connected to. I don't think it addresses the much bigger Skills discovery issue that we all know about, which are remains unsolved. Frankly, I think that visual display is going to be part of the ultimate answer there. They're already got some moves in that direction, it's just very cumbersome to review a lot of data by voice, and unless you can perfectly target and know exactly what somebody wants, which is improbable, it's just too cumbersome to review so much information by voice.

 

Aaron Emigh: I also think that while this is important, it's good for publishers to be able to share it and get the word out. It's good for people to be able to spontaneously share things on social networks and so on. It opens up a bit of a Pandora's box, as well, because now there's going to be this race to spam people with Skills, and they run the risk of very quickly having a sort of low signal to noise out there with a whole lot of noise being made about all these Skills and ultimately people will just sort of tune it out. So unless they have some clever thoughts on what to do about all the various kinds of spam and advertising that happens on social media, we run the risk of getting pretty numb to it pretty fast.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:22:36] So you're saying that we need an Alexa Skill to tell to tell it, "Block all of these social media messages about Alexa Skills.

 

Aaron Emigh: [00:22:45] Exactly.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:22:47] No, that's true. Social media, there's a curve to it, right? You know, where there's growth that happens and things just get oversaturated over time. But I completely agree with that. I will say, though, that the article makes a very interesting point that, at least in my experience, is dead on. Nobody knows that there's an Alexa Skill Store other than practitioners in the field. So the three of you all would know that there is an Alexa Skill Store for this, but out of the millions and millions of people who own an Echo, or a device that's in the Echo family, just for the Amazon example. If you went to a hundred people who have an Echo and asked them, "Is there a store where you can peruse new applications for your Echo and download them?" I'd have to say at least 95 of them would say "No. I don't know what you're talking about." Maybe as high as 98 or 99, I just think that there's very little knowledge about it in the market, for many reasons.

 

Bradley Metrock: I don't think it's anything necessarily Amazon has or hasn't done, and maybe they should've. But I think that the social media integration will start to raise awareness, really for the first time, that, "Hey you. There's more you can do with this Echo thing. Why don't you go find out?" And I think it really sort of greases the skids for some future monetization efforts at least I'm very hopeful for that. Before we move on, let me ask the same question I just did about Apple, except on the topic of Amazon. For each of the three of you ... Amazon has done a ton this year, and we documented a lot of it on this show. They've released all sorts of permutations of hardware. They've made many, many upgrades to Alexa and the Alexa ecosystem. They've been quite busy. But still, there's a lot that remains to be done. I would ask the three of you, if you could snap your fingers and have the genie have Amazon do one thing, one specific thing in terms of Alexa and the Alexa ecosystem overnight. What would that be? And Aaron, I'll start with you.

 

Aaron Emigh: [00:25:05] Well, it would really be improvements to their fundamental AI technology. I think that what it understands from you is a bit limited, and particularly when you're looking at home control applications. ... the kinds of utterances that you have to get into can get a little bit twisted up, when you're saying, "Ask so-and-so to do such and such." And it just gets a little bit confusing and hard for people to keep track of. So I would say better understanding of what people are trying to accomplish combined with a little more flexibility in the ways that you can say it.

 

Jochen Emig: [00:25:44] Well, with me, Aaron set the major points, so I'm going to go on to developer route and say certification. If you compare certification for Google and Alexa Skills, Alexa is a little bit behind. The certification times are too long. And oftentimes it feels more like a lottery, if you're skill is going to get certified. And I mean, we've seen these in all the communities and forums that complain. So I'm going to take that.

 

Leon Muller: [00:26:14] And I'm going to do a mixture, and actually mix something in on what you mentioned before about the sharing thing, that a lot of people still don't really know that there's a Skill Store. I think a lot of people still haven't fully understood the power of voice and the power of Alexa and Google Home. So I think the sharing thing can help them understand that there's a lot more and that's also what I kind of miss from Amazon, more powerful skills that can actually add more value to your life. And that's maybe also … on a developer side, to other developers, it's kind of figuring out how can we add value in the long term. And also from Amazon itself, improving technology and the platform and the underlying A.I and what Aaron mentioned.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:27:02] That's great. Great points all the way around, and I think in terms of development of new and better and more sophisticated and more powerful and functional Alexa Skills, the monetization is key, because so much of that investment isn't going to happen until developers can have a way to earn a return that's easy to understand, as opposed to a blackbox at Amazon when they say, "Hey, here's your check." Which is very difficult to understand. Very unpredictable. I think monetization will open a lot of those type of doors, but thank y'all for that.

 

Bradley Metrock: We're going to move on to story number five. And I love including stories like this because it shows something different about the voice ecosystem that I think gets lost in the shuffle sometimes or sometimes it gets taken for granted. The story here is that the Amazon Echo was on the red carpet, and you should see the pictures of this by the way, if you click on the article you will see pictures of this Echo on the red carpet with Kenny G and Santa Claus. And there's a funny line in the article talking about Santa Claus telling the Echo, "Do you even know who I am?" They're all on the red carpet for this new movie, A Bad Mom’s Christmas, which normally I would never in a million years think about seeing that, but now I'm sort of interested, so I guess they accomplished something with that.

 

Bradley Metrock: I include this story just to show....just as a reminder of how far voice technology has come. If you had gone back two or three years ago the idea of having a voice a voice-first piece of hardware in this sort of environment, where all the people associated with this movie premiere understand that everybody is going to know what the Amazon Echo and there's not going to be any need to explain. It's going to be right at home. It's not going to be a distraction, it's going to make perfect sense, and it's going to add value. I mean, two or three years ago that would just be nonsense, that would be like a pipe dream or something. It would be unfathomable. And so I feel like from time to time with This Week In Voice, it's important to include stories like this that show something about Amazon's market leadership. Yes, but it also just shows, in general, a societal movement toward embracing voice-enabled voice-first technology and that's sort of the way I look at it when it comes to why I included it in the news stories of the week in the first place. But Aaron, I want to start with you as you take a look at this. Yes, it's a humorous story, but is there anything else you took away from it? What was your reaction positive or negative to this? And what did you take away?

 

Aaron Emigh: [00:29:54] No, I think that to the extent there is something to take away from it. It's exactly what you're saying and I would draw an analogy. I remember using the ARPANET back in 1983 and then the Internet in the late 80s and early 90s. Having a conversation with one of my fellow geeks and he was asserting that this is great and everyone's going to be using it, it's really hit the mainstream and I said that it's going to hit the mainstream when my mom's heard of it. It's going to hit the mainstream when you see it in media and then just a few years later, by the mid 90s, I would walk by a bookstore. Remember those? And they would have books "Internet Internet Internet" and Internet topics in the windows and I thought, "Wow! This obscure thing that only a few of us enthusiasts cared about has really affected the world now." And I think you're right. We're seeing the same thing now with these mainstream breakthroughs. But the other thing to say about it is really that this is an advertiser-supported big publicity campaign by Amazon and obviously it's working because we're sitting here talking about it.

 

Jochen Emig: [00:31:01] So for me, it's twofold. First of all, it shows that these voice assistants, they have a persona. I think people identify with them. People know how to talk to them. It's different than a few other technologies that we've had in the past. And when you see Santa talking to Alexa, it's talking to a persona almost like a real person. The other things is a little off topic, but it really surprised me, was Halloween this year. How many people we saw dressed up as Alexa? I mean when you were on Reddit or Instagram, it was flooded with people having Alexa costumes, because it's something people identify with, it's something new and something exciting. Yeah. It's getting out there.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:31:49] That's fascinating. I had not seen that, but I will have to go take a look at that very interesting.

 

Leon Muller: [00:31:53] I see it similar to and it actually was a really, really good PR stunt. It's Christmas, so Alexa and wants to get in the game and like they made me aware that this is a really good Christmas present. And obviously, moms will be the ones probably using it and the husbands will be buying it. It's a really, really cool PR stunt, but on the other hand, what I like about it is kind of adding voice to a really good story. Including Alexa in a PR stunt or in an event like this one, like a red carpet event. It can be different and I think it is really cool.

 

Jochen Emig: [00:32:38] But you also have to say, it's stunt that you couldn't really do much other technology. You couldn't just put an iPhone. You couldn't just put a computer there. It's something you can really interact with and that's why you able to do this PR stunt.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:32:50] Well that's a great point. The point that the Echo device is sitting there....it's not just some cylinder, which is actually what I think when I look at it, I see a cylinder sitting there, I'm like OK. But you're so right. People look at that and they don't see that at all. They see the persona. The persona that they have interacted with on a day-to-day basis for months now or even over a year now or whatever. They don't see that cylinder. They see the personified version of whatever that mental image is in their head as they talk to Alexa, and that's what they see on the red carpet. That is a fascinating thing to think about and something I really hadn't thought about at all. But I think you're exactly right. And that is why they can get away with doing this and it makes sense because you're right, an iPhone is just a combination of different component parts as many other tech gadgets are. But these voices, voice-enabled hardware is not the same, not the same at all. I think that's great. Anything else to add on that?

 

Aaron Emigh: [00:34:03] I think we may look back on this era as the dawn of anthropomorphic computing. We've had this dream for a long time that computers are going to have personalities and they're going to be like people and I think that the combination of voice and AI and industrial design really sort of starts bringing that to the fore.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:34:22] I completely agree. Yeah, I completely agree. Great analysis. I appreciate that. That will wrap us up. Aaron, Jochen, Leon. Thank all three of you very, very much for the time today.

 

Aaron Emigh: [00:34:36] Thank you.

 

Jochen Emig: [00:34:38] Thank you for having us.

 

Leon Muller: [00:34:39] Yes, thank you.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:34:40] Greatly appreciate not just your time, but your insight and your expertise as well, and I know the audience appreciates it. This is fantastic. For This Week In Voice, Episode 17, thank you for listening. And until next time.

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