Top news stories for Episode 18 (November 9, 2017):

1) Voicebot.AI Story of the Week: Where Is The Love? Will.I.Am raises $117 million to build Omega Voice Assistant, a voice assistant designed for enterprise.

2) Bonus Voicebot.AI Story Of The Week: Google Home Max, Google's $399 behemoth designed to compete against the HomePod, goes on sale December 11 within the United States.

3) The BBC has released its Alexa-based interactive fiction experience "The Inspection Chamber." Meanwhile, a Stranger Things interactive audio game is now available on Google Home.

4) Fast Company: "The Future Of Alexa Is ... The End Of The Smartphone Era." (And look who is quoted in the piece: friend of This Week In Voice and VoiceFirst.FM Brian Roemmele!)

5) Mattel delays kids' voice assistant Hello Barbie Hologram through 2017 holiday season; now scheduled to release in 2018

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Panel for Episode 18 (November 9, 2017):

Brooke Hawkins

Brooke is a virtual assistant designer for Nuance Communications, putting her significant experience designing user experiences to work within the realm of voice technology.

Nick Schwab

Nick is a senior software engineer for Ford Motor Company, and also the founder of Invoked Apps, a leading developer of applications for Alexa, Cortana, and Google Assistant.

Transcript:

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:00:11] Hi, and welcome back to This Week In Voice, Episode 18, for Thursday November the 9th, 2017. My name is Bradley Metrock, I'm CEO of a company called Score Publishing based here in Nashville, Tennessee. Our sponsor for This Week In Voice is 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. I say it every week, and it is true every week. You need to go check them out at www.voicexp.com. You'll be glad that you did. Our guests for today's show are phenomenal. I'm really pleased to have them. First, we have Brooke Hawkins. Brooke, say hello.

 

Brooke Hawkins: [00:01:01] Hello.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:01:03] Brooke, thank you very much for joining us.

 

Brooke Hawkins: [00:01:06] No problem.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:01:07] Brooke is a virtual assistant designer for Nuance Communications. Brooke, share with us a little bit about what you do.

 

Brooke Hawkins: [00:01:13] Yeah, sure. I currently work at Nuance, designing interactive virtual assistants, otherwise known as chat bots, for different Fortune 500 companies, making their customer experience more efficient, and conversational, and all that good stuff. And when I'm not doing that, I'm teaching a lot of different people about the kind of foundations of voice design. I recently helped co-author a course at CareerFoundry and continued to mentor students. I'm really excited about teaching people about this new burgeoning field as well.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:01:44] Very cool. It's great to hear the passion in your voice on the topic and we certainly appreciate you joining us today. Our second guest is Nick Schwab. Nick, say hello.

 

Nick Schwab: [00:01:54] Hey Bradley, thanks for having me.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:01:56] Nick is a senior software engineer for Ford Motor Company and also the founder of Invoked Apps, which is a leading developer of applications for Alexa, Cortana, and Google Assistant. Nick, share a little bit with us about both universes that you live in there.

 

Nick Schwab: [00:02:11] Yes. It's basically two full time jobs, to be honest. So at Ford, I work as a senior software engineer working on a platform that allows smart phone application developers to connect their applications into the vehicles, so that they can display the vehicles streams. And then when I get home, in my free time, I am the founder of Invoke Apps. You may have seen some of the skills that we offer, ranging from thunderstorm sounds and rain sounds to the deal or no deal game.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:02:37] Very cool. And I've been meaning to download your rain sounds app. I've seen a lot of the tweets about it from different people. Congratulations on your success.

 

Nick Schwab: [00:02:46] Thank you.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:02:47] So with that, we'll get to the news. There's a lot of interesting news stories this week as we head toward the end of the calendar year. And our first one is our VoiceBot.AI story of the week. As I mentioned before, on this show, we have a VoiceBot.AI story of the week. We think that VoiceBot.AI does a lot of great work reporting news in the voice technology realm. I'm happy to hold some of those up and share them. And this is the one for this week. Will.I.Am raises 117 million dollars to build a new voice assistant called Omega Voice Assistant designed for the enterprise, and Brook, we'll start with you on this. A theme of this show has been at times that we're starting to get saturated with voice assistants and we're starting to get a little saturated with smart speakers to be honest. At least that's my opinion. Do you share that opinion do you think this is going to find a home or what? What's your take?

 

Brooke Hawkins: [00:03:50] Yeah, I think it's really interesting. I know the article kind of pointed out the humor of celebrity is kind of taking on technology and being CEOs of these companies, but as we've seen with things like Beats and different companies that have been successfully run by celebrities, they do well and I think they kind of have a flair for designing for almost like the aesthetic or like kind of having a little bit more of a connection to what consumers might want sometimes more so than to what I sometimes see tech companies do on their own. Maybe that is a result of them being musicians and having to have a pulse and marketing and their audience.

 

Brooke Hawkins: I thought the product was really interesting. It's promising a lot in terms of functionality, but I'm not sure it will be able to deliver all of those things. It definitely seemed to focus primarily now on the kind of space that Nuance is actually in, which is that virtual assistant design for for enterprise solutions. But all of the promises that they're making, in terms of a slick and really engaging assistant for employees or businesses, were really exciting. Just simply working in a larger corporate company, there are a lot of disparate technologies that I use every day. But that's Microsoft Teams and Outlook, and different meeting connection tools. It's all very disparate and very not sleek and definitely clunky, so the vision of me moving through my day in a sleek way, interacting with this one interface that allows me to do a lot of different things....it's definitely exciting. That would be much easier than to use all the clunky different apps we have to use to share things. So I see some promise there, if they get it all together as well as they promised.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:05:43] It's a really good point, that this thing from Will.I.Am by virtue of him being a celebrity and a musician and an entertainer may have a finger on the pulse, maybe more usable or maybe more approachable than something that some technology company may put together. That's actually very interesting and you don't get 117 million dollars given to you by being horrible, usually. So yeah, that's all very interesting. Nick, I want to get your take on this as well especially with you being an Alexa Champion and doing different aspects of your work with Amazon. What was your take from the article? And do you think that someone who doesn't work at a tech juggernaut can compete against a tech juggernaut?

 

Nick Schwab: [00:06:31] Yeah, I think it's really interesting that a celebrity's getting into this space. It's really important to bring awareness into this space, and to just get more consumers to experience these voice platforms, whether it's Omega, or Alexa, or Cortana. And with a celebrity like him coming on board and pushing the boundaries of natural language processing, I think that it's going to be a big advantage to the ecosystem, not just Omega. And as a developer, it's kind of off-putting to see yet another platform that developers may have to build for. But I do think that it's going to be, overall, an advantage for consumers and for the ecosystem in general.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:07:11] Yeah, I definitely agree with you. While we're on this story....one of the things that the article points out are the use cases that are being sort of bandied about for what an "enterprise voice assistant" can do and it always seems to be the same stuff. It's like meeting notes, doing some reporting....I think everyone agrees that enterprise is a place where voice assistants are going to live and be very productive and a total game changer. But I want to ask both of you... Brooke, I'm going to start with you. What is the number one use case? What's the killer app use case for voice assistants in the enterprise that's going to blow the doors off....either in what Nuance is doing, or just what you would love to see happen.

 

Brooke Hawkins: [00:08:03] That's a good question. Just as I'm thinking of what would be really useful, I think any of these applications I can do really deep integrations with tools and data would be really helpful. I think the thing that's really interesting that you mentioned was the capability for reporting. So I think some kind of application that, through validation, through minimal interaction from the user you could kind of put together some data or reports that are deeply integrated to the actual data that you're using in your day-to-day work would be really exciting and interesting and take a lot of that fiddling around and Excel work out of my day, if I could get a voice assistant to do that. So I think some kind of voice application with deep integration into the actual data that I use day-to-day....it would really feel like I'm having an assistant of my own. That would be actual work that I would love to put on someone else, if I had a real assistant.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:08:58] That's a great example. Nick, what what do you think? What's your number one use case?

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:09:03] I think Brooke makes a really good point. But also in addition to that, the scheduling in general. Booking a meeting with a co-worker or somebody you do business with is going to be a huge play there. It's interesting to see that Will.I.Am and Omega has come out and said that they want to approach the enterprise market, when Microsoft seems well positioned to do that as well.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:09:26] Great analysis. Appreciate that. The only thing I would add....we've discussed, I believe last week on this show about Alexa and other voice assistants being able to help with e-mail and sort e-mail. And it was pointed out that the article that was being referred to didn't understand Alexa's capabilities but it would be nice, for me, in my opinion, if voice assistants in the enterprise, I should say, get to the point where they can help you with email. I wake up sometimes and say, "OK, did I forget to put something on my calendar?" It would be great to do a voice query, like you say, "Hey Omega, check my e-mail real quick and make sure I didn't miss an appointment for the day." Or, "Make sure I responded to all the e-mails that have a due date of today." Or something like that. But that's probably my number one use case. That was a great analysis on that and it'll be interesting to see how Will.I.Am's efforts move forward. But I definitely had to start with that story. Story number two is a bonus VoiceBot.AI story of the week. We included this because we couldn't find anyone else that mentioned the Google Home Max coming out on December 11th like Bret Kinsella did. So kudos to him for discovering that through the BestBuy website. So the story is exactly that. The Google Home Max, which is Google's $400 competitor to the HomePod, is coming out in December, which the VoiceBot.AI crew found. And Nick, I'm going to start with you on this. Does this product excite you? And between the Google Home Max and the HomePod, which do you think will be more successful?

 

Nick Schwab: [00:11:07] So the product in general excites me. I think it's going to be a huge competitor to the HomePod, especially because Google already has an ecosystem set up for developers to make actions for Google Assistant. And Apple hasn't really come out and said anything about Siri and how that's going to work with their assistant. And then in regard to the Max, as well, the price point seems a little too high. I watch the Keynote when the price was announced and I got really excited about it, at first, because I thought it would be a great set of speakers for a computer or a home entertainment center. And then the price was announced at $400. I was thinking, "Wow. All right, if you want two of these things, for good quality sound, they're going to be past basically a thousand dollars, after taxes." I think that for a lot of consumers, this is going to be out of reach.

 

Brooke Hawkins: [00:11:55] Yeah, I definitely agree. I think that just in terms of thinking about all these home products, the price point is something that is definitely really huge, and it definitely impacts the accessibility of these products are products. I think that's something that Amazon does really well with the kind of breadth of the products that they offer. Some are really affordable. I think that just thinking about household and Christmas time and all the different gifts that you could get your family, I think that getting something to try out voice assistants in your home that's less expensive before making that big leap is more appealing. I think the HomePod might be more successful, but I don't know. I guess I don't have as good of a pulse on the number of audio-philes that would want to get a voice assistant speaker versus going and just investing in a speaker that is really good without a voice assistant, without the....Google isn't in the vein of designing these home speaker systems yet. This is kind of the first. So I don't know. Maybe it'll take the first wave of adoption before they're known as the Invoke home speaker manufacturers and then maybe it'll catch on from there.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:13:12] It will be interesting to see. I look at the Google Home Max and it looks like a car battery. To me, it's this big boxy thing. So it doesn't look visually appealing but it does look like it can deliver the audio. You know what I mean? It looks like a pretty serious product, with just the physicality of it. But I do find it curious that the HomePod has been discussed negatively from the standpoint of the cost of it. $350. And Google Home Max decided to go higher. I mean, they easily could have just said, "OK, we're going to match the price of the HomePod." But there was some discussion that took place on whether they were going to match the price of the HomePod or not, and they decided that they're not going to. I find that fascinating. I don't know really what it means. I guess it signals confidence in the product, but I don't know. I think both of them will do poorly, to be honest with you. But I think that the Google Home Max is the one that I think I would be more interested in, at least hearing and learning more about. But that's just me.

 

Bradley Metrock: Moving on to story number three. BBC has released its Alexa-based interactive fiction experience called The Inspection Chamber. So we talked about this on the show months ago when they first announced this and it's going to be very interesting to see how voice-first technology gets utilized and put to work for interactive storytelling. There's already some really great companies doing it. Novel Effect was just on Shark Tank and got a large investment. EarPlay is another one. Tellables is another one, who's a sponsor of the Alexa Conference coming up in January. Shameless plug. But it'll be interesting to see, and I'm looking forward to trying out this BBC game and then the other thing that was worth mentioning in the same breath is that there is a Stranger Things interactive audio game that is available in the Google Assistant ecosystem, not to be outdone. So Brooke, I'm going to start with you. What is your take away from these stories? And do interactive games and interactive storytelling like this, does it excite you or does it strike you as something that is a little bit before it's time right now?

 

Brooke Hawkins: [00:15:36] This definitely excites me. I think my original background is definitely in literature and writing and I think I just have a soft spot for seeing arts and all those kinds of softer disciplines making their way into this technology world. I think it's really fun, in a good way, to kind of make these technologies more approachable or more engaging or feel less caste-based and more just entertainment-based by getting into these different realms. What kind of intrigued me the most was....I think there's a really ripe capacity here for these to integrate as well with like virtual reality or augmented reality where you're kind of getting into this immersive story world. I think it's interesting to think about taking them one step further in feeling these stories in a more tactile way along with this really immersive audio. So I think it's cool. I think we're seeing the beginning parts of it and will continue to be more of a new entertainment channel for us to explore.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:16:33] That's great. And I couldn't agree more as far as AR and perhaps down the road, VR are concerned. It's not necessarily voice technology, it's voice-first, right? And so that means that it can be combined with any number of other sensory aspects including augmented reality or whatever else. Nick, do you agree with Brook or do you see this differently and how did these article strike you?

 

Nick Schwab: [00:16:57] Yeah, I totally agree. I think that these interactive stories are going to be the next big wave of publishing. I think we're going to see a lot more more books and maybe even news articles start to happen through voice interfaces, and they'll be more interactive. Now I saw an article recently about a polling system. So imagine being able to poll your readers or listeners as they interact with the content or even changing the content as you go through the story. I grew up in the era of Goosebumps books where you choose your own path as you read the book. And that was a super interactive experience and it was really fun as a kid to read that book. And basically you'd read it over and over again choosing different paths each time, right? So having that experience in a voice application....I really think it's going to big over the next year or so.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:17:45] That's a great example, and the Goosebumps books were sort of a spiritual successor from Choose Your Own Adventure books. You ever read those?

 

Brooke Hawkins: [00:17:56] Uh huh.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:17:56] So yeah, there's many different ways that technology can be applied and I think we're actually starting to see some of that. You know the companies I mentioned....Novel Effect, Earplay, Tellables they're not cookie cutters of each other. They do very different types of things. It's interesting to me to see....I couldn't agree more, Nick, with your statement that we're looking at the future of publishing. There's no doubt about that. And it's interesting from where I sit....the rise of audio books and also podcasts for that matter. People want audio content and there's a lot of things driving it. Commute times, more free time that we have, there's a lot of different factors but people want audio content. And then you take that a step further and figure out how we can make this interactive and employ these voice-first technologies to add another layer to it. And it just opens up a lot of exciting possibilities. So yeah, I completely agree with both y'all's sentiments on this. So we will move on.

 

Bradley Metrock: Story number four is from Fast Company and this is a very interesting piece that echoes, in many ways, a thought process that has been discussed on this show several times and on other VoiceFirst FM podcasts. The article is called, "For Amazon, The Future Of Alexa Is ... About The End Of The Smartphone Era" and the article covers a lot of ground. But the overall theme of it is that voice technology and voice-first technology, whatever word you want to use, is the successor to the smartphone. It's what will replace the smartphone and that's the trajectory that we're on. And Nick, I'm going to start with you. Do you agree with that premise, number one? Number two, what else did you get out of the article? What did you take away?

 

Nick Schwab: [00:19:48] So I don't necessarily agree with the idea that it's going to kill the smartphone. I think the interactions that we have with smartphones, or tablets....they offer a more engaging experience than what someone can ultimately do with only a voice experience. You know, Amazon tried the Fire Phone to try the phone path and they just couldn't do it, because there's a lot of competition there. But they're really set up well for the voice space. I mean, they own about 75% of the market right now. So I think the path that they can take is going to be....simplifying the tasks that we do on our phones like scheduling or calling people but leaving the more engaging, more power hungry situations like high definition games, obviously you still need a phone for that - some kind of gaming system or portable device. So I think they're going to focus on the everyday tasks and be able to dominate that market. I think we'll see smartphones becoming very use case-based. You might not carry a smartphone if all you do is call people or text people but if you like to check your Twitter feed or play a game then you might have a smartphone.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:20:57] That's a very interesting way to look at that, and I definitely agree. I think there's going to have to be something, something visual, right? I think the question is, is it this rectangle that you hold in your hand like I'm holding mine in my hand right now or through AR or some other....not voice technology, but voice-first technology. Does it work its way into some other form factor and Brooke, I'll ask you, do you share Nick's opinion on how the smartphone is going to be with us for the foreseeable future or do you think that voice technology is bringing that to an end sooner than we thought? What are your thoughts from this article?

 

Brooke Hawkins: [00:21:38] Yeah, I think I definitely agree with Nick's assessment. I think that as well, it's really interesting to think about the fact that data is showing how users are downloading less apps, so the things that users are doing with their phones are kind of set in stone or you get your routine with your smartphone day-to-day. And I also have people in my life that are finding that they're meeting their attention cap, so between working all day and being on the computer and between going home and having different devices that they interact with, sometimes a smartphone is just like an additional thing that they carry around thoroughly is kind of having their attention drawn away from.

 

Brooke Hawkins: I think another thing this article touched on was the fact that voice assistants at home might have this capability to kind of reduce the detrimental health effects of having that constant attention on. So yeah, I don't think that the smartphone will go away. But I think voice assistants are definitely allowing people to rethink how they're spending their attention and all the different screens they literally have with them all the time and maybe how the voice interface could mitigate some of that stuff or sync together some of those interfaces, so that maybe when you do use your smartphone app today, you're not glued to it or maybe you get something like I've been seeing advertisements for, the simple phone. A simple phone can just text and call. And then when you go home maybe play with your smartphone and your voice assistant, so it's definitely opening up a new landscape for people to to pick and choose what things they want to use their attention on rather than feeling like they have to have everything all the time.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:23:16] There was a time a year or two ago where I did not have a smartphone. I've had an iPhone for the most part since they've come out and I stupidly got into the pool....we were down on a vacation and I didn't realize that my iPhone was in my pocket. And that was the end of that piece of hardware, despite a valiant effort to save it. And I went the next two or three weeks with a phone, a little flip phone, that was like nine dollars. And the phone really didn't receive texts. I had a lot of people afterward tell me they tried to text me. I got 10% of those texts. It was almost impossible to send a text that made any sense. The keyboard was like, nonexistent, and calls didn't really come through that well either. Sometimes they did and sometimes they didn't. I'm telling you, that was one of the most peaceful weeks that I have ever had. (all laugh) So the idea of the smartphone going away is a very romantic notion for a lot of people, including me.

 

Bradley Metrock: As a final note on this, I do find it fascinating as well that we're seeing a crop of articles being written, I almost included one in the news articles for this show. We're seeing a lot of people write about how they believe that the smart speaker is going to go away. The smart speaker is very much in vogue right now. You’ve got your Amazon hardware, your Google hardware, your HomePod, the Microsoft Harman/Karmon deal....but there's a lot of people writing right now about how they think smart speakers will have this "supernova" type of you know popularity and then vanish because they will get integrated into other hardware and they will cease that need to be their own hardware. And I find those articles very interesting in light of this discussion where....so the smart speaker can show up for a little bit and have its heyday and then it just goes away because it gets subsumed in other technology. But for some reason nobody seems to think that can go on with a smartphone or there's a less clear path to that. I find that very interesting as well, just as a side note to this.

 

Bradley Metrock: Story number five is an interesting one, to say the least. Mattel delays their kid's voice assistant, Hello Barbie Hologram, through this holiday season. It's now scheduled to release next year. I didn't quite know what to make of this, so Brooke, I'm going to start with you. What should I take away from this article? Is it something to be celebrated, that voice assistants have penetrated our culture to the point where we are learning that there is a Hello Barbie Hologram or is this something to raise the red flag and say, "Hold up. We're moving a little too quick. We may not be ready for this." What's your take?

 

Brooke Hawkins: [00:26:25] I don't know. There's so many issues with this. I think it's interesting that from an accessibility standpoint or lack of awareness standpoint....people know what holograms are and know what voice assistants are and there apparently is a market for this. But then in terms of the actual accessibility of these products, getting them into homes....I mean the price point is so big I can't imagine a lot of parents being excited about spending that much on one kind of standalone product. It's not an Xbox or any kind of other game console that you might spend that much on. But it can only do the one thing, and it's in that closed cloud that they mentioned. So that children's privacy is taken into account, but there's kind of a finite amount of things that this voice assistant would be able to do. It is interesting, but I think the main issue here, as well, is that it has the capability to kind of level the playing field and requires less different individual products and kind of allows a firmware-like, ubiquitous, flattened way to access technology across all different mediums and modalities and things like that and this kind of is like a disparate, another product you have to have in your home that can't really connect with all these other cool interfaces. So I don't know. From a functional standpoint, I probably won't get one in my home, but I mean it does show that people are paying attention to these things and there are markets for them, so that's probably a good thing.

 

Nick Schwab: [00:27:53] Yeah, when I saw this article, I actually had no idea that this product was even going to exist in the first place. So that can tell you something there. And as I read the article, I saw that they claim that they had a hundred pre-orders for the product and I was thinking, "Wow. That might be a reason why they postponed it. There's not very many pre-orders." And especially at $229 per unit. That's an expensive kid's toy. Thinking back as a kid and someone who grew up with a younger sister, this is kind of toy....I don't think it's something that would get a lot of use from a kid. And it says it's only voice-based and for a lot of kids, part of growing up is pretending. Having a physical toy that you can play with. The kind you talk to and have conversations with other toys with....I just don't see this being an engaging product for kids.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:28:49] So you're saying that it sucks.

 

Nick Schwab: [00:28:52] Yeah! TL;DR. It sucks. (all laugh) I could be wrong. You never know.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:28:59] No, it doesn't seem like you're wrong. I think you're absolutely right. The article just sort of drops real quietly in the second half of the piece that there is a 100 pre-orders and your response that was exactly what I was like, "Well, shoot. You didn't want to put that in the headline." (all laugh)

 

Nick Schwab: [00:29:15] Yeah, and that's a big sign that things aren't going to work out.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:29:19] And I think even more telling than that was that this is not the first rodeo for this thing. They had a 2015 Hello Barbie deal where you talked to Barbie. And it's a conversational toy....a conversational gadget and this is sort of building off of that as opposed to doing something completely from scratch. I think that that probably makes the fact that they have 100 pre-orders worse. But the other thing I wanted to mention too in the article....it's just a fascinating article, fascinating product. I encourage people to read this. I'm going to read this paragraph verbatim. "Hello Barbie Hologram will be the first artificial intelligence paired with a hologram aimed at the toy market. According to the company, it's meant for children ages 6 and up." And then it says it will be priced $225, which is a lot of money. But it's like every company just wants to bandy about the words artificial intelligence. You know what I mean? There's nothing about this product that in any way should be using the words artificial intelligence. You know what I'm saying? (all laugh) I mean it could be a great product, I'm not taking anything away from it. But artificial intelligence....using those words is not your license to charge a large price premium or attempt to. But that's interesting. I'm glad to get y'all's take on that. I found this fascinating as well and that's why I wanted to include it.

 

Nick Schwab: [00:30:49] Part of me thinks it might just be a marketing ploy by Mattel to get the brand name out there a little bit.

 

Brooke Hawkins: [00:30:55] That definitely makes sense.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:30:56] From that standpoint it really doesn't matter. If they're going to release something and 100 people buy it, it's probably better to just sort of shelve it and then get the press and the media talking about it. They probably got more out of that than anything else. Any other comments on any of the stories that we've covered today.

 

Nick Schwab: [00:31:12] Yeah. One quick thing. The article about having Alexa or Cortana, voice assistants replacing the smartphone. I think a big opportunity is going to appear as more and more businesses and homes have these voice assistance, these dedicated hardware voice assistants in their home. There's going to be a huge opportunity for people to just walk into a place in business or be invited over to someone else's home and then immediately you can start talking to their voice assistant under the context of your own profile. You know, Amazon has voice profiles right now where it can recognize who's talking, and so does Google. You know, imagine combining that with your phone, so that your phone, as you walk into a room, syncs with a dedicated hardware device like an Amazon Echo speaker or Google Assistant, and it knows that, "Hey, this person is in the room when I hear them talk because I know their voice profile. I can now customize everything to them even though that's not their device.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:32:12] I'd be up for that. I would love that.

 

Nick Schwab: [00:32:16] I think definitely the next play for Amazon and Google is just having a universal voice profile that spans across devices, not just your own devices.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:32:26] And in that sense, it probably wouldn't be a bad idea to have it tied to a smartphone or tied to something else that's on your person, because I always think back to that company....have y'all heard of this company Lyrebird? Y'all familiar with that?

 

Brooke Hawkins: [00:32:39] No.

 

Nick Schwab: [00:32:40] Yes.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:32:41] Nick, did you say yes.

 

Nick Schwab: [00:32:44] Yes.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:32:45] So Brooke, this company Lyrebird.AI, you should go to it. It's l-y-r-e-b-i-r-dot-a-i I think is what it is. But it is a company that has developed this technology that essentially allows mimicking of your voice. So if I understand the technology, and Nick, feel free to correct me if I don't. This company Lyrebird can take a 30 to 60 second clip of your voice and with that input alone can then make any sentence in the world, out of your voice and it can have your voice at that point. Nick, have I got that right?

 

Nick Schwab: [00:33:34] Yeah, that was my understanding of it and it's both cool, creepy and scary all at the same time.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:33:39] It's super scary, and I think I may have mentioned this on this podcast or a different show before. When you go on a Web site and you're hit with this huge legal disclaimer at the top before you even figure out what the what the underlying product is....that's pretty telling and that's exactly what Lyrebird....appropriately that's exactly what you see on that website. But it's a very cool technology as well, if it's used the right way. Nick, you were mentioning what you just said about your voice following you and your context and everything just reminded me of that. Brooke and Nick, this has been great. Thank you very, very much for your time today. Thank you for joining us.

 

Brooke Hawkins: [00:34:24] Thank you.

 

Nick Schwab: [00:34:24] Thank you. It's been a pleasure.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:34:28] This has been great. I appreciate both of y'all sharing your insight and your experience and your expertise with not just me, but the audience as well. For This Week In Voice, thank you for listening, and until next time.

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