Top news stories for Season 2, Episode 5 (February 22, 2018):

 

 

1) New York Times: Why We May Soon Be Living In Alexa's World

2) Voicebot.AI Story Of The Week: Spotify Working On A Smart Speaker?

3) Forbes: Meet The Voice Marketer

4) Satire, barely: Local Man To Marry Amazon Alexa (Kinston Free Press)

5) JUST ANNOUNCED: The Voice of Healthcare Summit (Tues, Aug 7, Boston MA)

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Panel for Season 2, Episode 5 (February 22, 2018):

Dave Kemp is Business Development Manager at Oaktree Products, a multi-line distributor of hearing health-care products and medical devices. Oaktree serves as a resource for the audiology industry by training and informing the community on the latest technological breakthroughs in the industry, as well as trends and best practices for our customers' patients.

Sarah Storm is Head of Cloud Studio at SpokenLayer, creating great #voicefirst experiences and compelling SpokenEditions from a diverse array of written content, managing and directing a team of over 100 voice-over artists. Plus, she's on Law and Order: SVU! Views and opinions expressed in this podcast are Sarah Storm's, and do not necessarily reflect those of SpokenLayer.

Transcript:

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:00:12] Hi and welcome back to This Week In Voice, Episode 5 for Season 2. Today is Thursday, February the 22nd. Our sponsor for This Week In Voice is VoiceXP, a St. Louis based company that creates Alexa skills for businesses to be more productive and efficient. VoiceXP has recently joined the Capitol Innovator Startup Accelerator program based in St. Louis which is a top 10 startup accelerator in the United States, along with Y Combinator, Techstars and others. Bob Salzberg, who is the founder of VoiceXP and a very good friend of the show, says he believes joining Capital Innovators will enable VoiceXP to push the voice industry further because of the resources and connections the program provides. If you're looking to have an Alexa skill developed or you're looking for more information in general, head over to VoiceXP.com or look up Bob Stolzberg on LinkedIn and connect with him, you'll be glad that you did.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:01:10] We are very pleased to be joined today by a phenomenal panel. Sarah Storm is with us, Sarah say hello.

 

Sarah Storm: [00:01:17] Hey everybody, glad to be here.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:01:20] Sarah thank you very very much for joining us. So you are Head of Cloud Studio at Spoken Layer. Tell us what that is. Tell us what Spoken Layer does. Give us the info.

 

Sarah Storm: [00:01:31] Sure. Spoken Layer is a fantastic company that creates great voice-first experiences and works to leverage any content creator who wants to be in the voice-first space into that space. And my favorite part is we use Storyteller's to do it and that's where I come in. I work with a team of over 100 voice-over artists directing a diverse array of content. And I'm here representing my own views today, but I'm thrilled to be a part of the Spoken Layer family.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:02:00] We love that. We love that you've taken this time aside and love what's Spoken layer does, totally get that this is something independent you're doing. And speaking of something independent that you do, you are also an actress on Law and Order SVU. Tell us a little bit about what that's like; we don't get all Hollywood up in here all the time.

 

Sarah Storm: [00:02:19] I had a fantastic run of five episodes as Bronwyn Freed, later Bronwyn Freed Wilkins. I started out as a juror, I became a little bit of a terrifying prison girlfriend, and I - my character's claim to fame is breaking out terrifying people using baked goods and food. When we last left Bronwyn she was awaiting trial. She had helped some bad people because she sees the good in everyone. It was fun, it was really fun. That's my training, my background. I have a BFA and MFA in acting. TV and film is my passion and I'm lucky to get to leverage both of my careers against or towards to the other, you know.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:03:01] I love that. So you're an accomplished professional, along with an accomplished actress. We're very very pleased to have you today.

 

Sarah Storm: [00:03:07] Thank you so much.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:03:08] You got it. We also had Dave Kemp on the show. Dave say hello.

 

Dave Kemp: [00:03:12] Hey Bradley, thanks for having me.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:03:15] Yeah absolutely, Dave thank you for joining us. So Dave you are a Business Development Manager at Oaktree Products. Share with us a little bit about your role and what Oaktree does.

 

Dave Kemp: [00:03:24] Yeah absolutely. So Oaktree Products is a distributor of medical supplies and devices to the hearing health-care professional. So I kind of take it upon myself to you know dive into the voice-first world, learn as much as I can about this space. I think that it's going to be you know just increasingly more applicable to all of the ear-worn devices. You see it now with Hearables, because the future will have it integrated into hearing aids and stuff like that. So I think that it's going to be really relevant to my industry. And it's kind of what brought me here today. So I really appreciate you having me on.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:04:01] Yeah and we love having you on. Thank you David for setting the time aside, thank you both for setting the time aside. And with that, we will get to the news. So our first story this week is a big piece at the New York Times desk. I have seen a lot of people talking about this thing, even more so than a lot of other prominent articles that we talked about lately. The article is called, Why We May Soon Be Living In Alexa's World. And this article talks about a lot of different things, but essentially it's just sort of a realization of where we've come with this voice assistant, voice-first transformation. And I don't want to talk too much about it. I want to get both of y'all's opinions on, both of your takes on, what you got out of the article and what you thought was most interesting. Sarah I'm going to start with you. What did you think of the article? What did you take away?

 

Sarah Storm: [00:04:54] To be completely honest I got a little bit derailed by the beginning. I was just so - I wanted desperately to solve the mystery of how his Alexa screamed. And my takeaway, I think is that the devices are everywhere and that to my mind, based on what I was reading, Alexa it seems has really taken sort of almost a Facebook track of developing things right. Get it out there, let it break, iterate, iterate. As they said, some of the experiences are sort of shaggy, some of them work wonderfully, but they're being very successful, Amazon is, in getting their device and their AI into tons of different spaces. And then it's really you know it's just hitting us everywhere. And I think pretty soon, I mean I guess what I might take away, it piques my curiosity because everyone seems, the big players seem to be all trying to manage that ubiquitousness and Alexa is clearly out in front at the moment. When they talk about the platform war, the potential platform war, between Amazon and Google I am super curious about how that piece of the puzzle is going to play out. I think there are so many out there. To my mind as a user, there are so many opportunities potentially for collaboration. Everyone is doing such great and interesting things and I know that people, in addition to the companies being competitors, people developing the technology are also colleagues and I'm just very curious to see the way that things progress.

 

Dave Kemp: [00:06:22] Yes, I agree with Sarah. I think that it's really going to be intriguing to watch how this all unfolds from a platform standpoint, looking at Google and Amazon and seeing what other players might emerge. And now that we have multiple smart assistants, it really does seem like it's those two that are kind of controlling everything. The piece that really stood out to me, and I think this is kind of what we see with a lot of cultural shifts, he said, Farhad said, "how many people really are willing to let an always on device in their house?" For me this kind of brings back the whole notion of Uber and Airbnb when they started. I remember the first time I did an Uber was like 2013 when I was living in Chicago and I remember explaining that to my parents and they're like, you got in a car with a stranger and you know you did all that through an app. It just seemed farfetched at the time and a lot of people had that sort of that notion that wow that's really strange I don't think people are going to mass adopt it. You saw with Airbnb too, you're going to go live, I mean you know stay at a stranger's house, and what you see is that people are migrating toward these different things because they really are better you know. In terms of Uber, you can go and you can call it up on your phone. It has all of your history. It's actually safer because it's you know you have your identity of your driver and all of that.

 

Dave Kemp: [00:07:46] And so I think this is similar in the sense that you know you ultimately have these, what could be perceived as, always listening devices. But I think that as people realize it's not really the case, it's more of a little assistant you know something to help you out. And so that's kind of one of my takeaways was that I think that people are starting to realize, like to your point, that this isn't really a fad. You know, over the past three CES's you saw that increasingly smart assistants have dominated all the way to the point to this year where Google was advertising, doing outdoor advertising, on virtually everything they could around the venue. So I think that it's definitely here to stay. I think that we're seeing just a cultural shift as people become more and more comfortable with this idea of you know using voice assistant in order to really help yourself, and not really looking at some of what might have been perceived previously as creepy or weird or anything like that.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:08:47] I want to ask both of you sort of coming off the heels of that discussion. There are several recurring themes with voice technology and they surface constantly on the shows of VoiceFirst.FM and everywhere else that this stuff is being talked about. One of those themes is whether voice is a compliment. I'm talking in the arc of the long term evolution of this technology, and technology in general. Is voice-first technology a complement to the smartphone or the idea that you're going to carry around this rectangular metal thing on your person all the time looking at it, it dominates everything, or is it a substitute for that technology?

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:09:37] And this article sort of talks around that concept a little bit, but I wanted to just flat out asked you, and Sarah I want to start with you. In your opinion, and both of you are extremely knowledgeable people working in different aspects of this field in this technology, in your opinion, does the smartphone ever go away thanks to what voice technology affords for us and its ubiquity into all of these different devices? Or does it not? I'm just curious, and Dave I'll ask you the same thing in a minute.

 

Sarah Storm: [00:10:06] I think I see it as a compliment. I really do. I feel like there's always going to be things for which a tablet, I mean we may move away from the laptop entirely, but I can see a world in which we want some sort of smartphone or tablet accessible to us even as we move more and more into the voice space. I imagine for a number of reasons people prefer to consume information differently. People like a visual complement to the things that they're hearing. I think that what we'll see in the end is the growing trend toward a seamless handoff. Ideally, I suspect my AI is going to interact with my handheld device over time so that I can do as much and control as much as I choose through my voice, get as much information as possible in conversation with my AI, and then when I need to visually reference something. Perhaps it's that the information's already there, perhaps I asked my AI to send the information to my device, but I suspect that our relationship to our handheld devices is going to change drastically in the next five years. But I don't know that I believe it will go - that those devices will go away entirely.

 

Dave Kemp: [00:11:20] Yeah I think Sarah kind of hit the nail on the head. I agree. I don't think that the phone really goes away. I think that what happens is that the time spent on the phone really gets reduced. I think the bigger target that smart assistant’s kind of goes after is the apps. I think if you look at these devices, really what they're doing is they're ultimately cutting down on the friction, right. It's like rather than having to go and pull up three disparate apps, I can knock all of what I'm trying to do within those apps out in one fell swoop just through one voice command. And so I think that that's sort of the trend that it seems like were going down, is more or less complementing the phone, using the phone as sort of the hub in which you connect, still rely on things like messaging I think are far from being displaced by something like voice you know.

 

Dave Kemp: [00:12:09] As Farhad pointed out in the story, there's a really - there's a clear advantage here with the way that Amazon has it all built through the cloud. You know you go and you have your smart speaker in your house, and that is tailored to you, that has all of your, you know it's personalized to your account. And then you know you go into your car and your car synced to that same account. You go into work and all of your system hardware there is synced to your accounts. So it's all built around the cloud. It's kind of a device agnostic as he pointed out. So I think that really what we're looking at is you know something's got to give. We're not going to continue to look at you know have our necks looking at a little black box for increasing amounts of time per day. It just doesn't seem sustainable. And I think this is probably the best solution to that, is to pick your head up more and more for you know more things and be able to accomplish a lot of what you rely on your phone now, as a lot of those tasks begin to migrate towards voice assistants.

 

Sarah Storm: [00:13:10] I love that. I think the idea of us walking to our world with our heads held high once again, making eye contact and sharing stories and experiences through our audio devices, is incredibly powerful. And I love the thought that that's where we're headed.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:13:25] I struggle with which way I think it's going to go on a day to day basis you know. What we know is that people don't like carrying around a smartphone. They view it as an albatross, but it's a willing tradeoff based on the information you receive and being able to stay in real time communication with people. But on the other hand, it's come to dominate our attention and human beings have shown that they're terrible in balancing the demanding nature of the technology with the demanding nature of the state of the social fabric of our humanity, and all the people around us want our attention as well. So I could see it swinging either way and it will be really up to whoever takes the leadership position from a technology standpoint.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:14:09] I will tell you the notion of downloading apps on my phone is so tired, it's so tired. I view downloading an app, going to the app store and looking up apps as akin to getting on an elevator and wondering where the elevator operator is, or something like that. Or you know going into somebody's house and saying," hey where's your party line at?" No not like anyone even knows what that is any more, or you know "where's your landline at I need to make a call." That's great. And I just wanted to sort of start off with that article because it opened up a lot of different lines of thought and I just wanted to hear what y'all thought about that. So I appreciate that.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:14:58] Moving on to story number two. Story number two this week is our Voicebot.ai story of week. Voicebot.ai is a fantastic news and commentary site related to voice technology and voice AI and all things that touch that, highly recommend checking them out if you're looking for that sort of information. Spotify is working on a smart speaker. This came from some job postings that Spotify had put out there, has put out there. It's unclear whether they've landed the talent that they're looking for yet or not. But what is clear from the job descriptions is that they are getting into hardware, they're getting into products and this is pretty exciting from my standpoint. I want to get both y'all's take on this, but the idea of Spotify who's created a really compelling software experience getting into some hardware, I'm down with that. I would be very interested to see what they come out with. I think this is one of the more exciting news stories that we've had that is not coming from Amazon or Google lately. Dave I want to start with you. Do you share my enthusiasm for the potential that this could bring or do you look at this and say "my God another smart speaker, do we really need another one of those?" Share with me your take.

 

Dave Kemp: [00:16:26] Yes so I love this story. I think that this is right up my alley. I love kind of hypothesizing around you know new entrants into the market and how they might fit and all that. And so I was looking at this and I was looking at some of the numbers. So Spotify has like you know, their private and you don't necessarily know how many, but it's rumored that they have 70 million subscribers. Apple Music has something like 36 million. Apple Music is growing at a five percent clip, on a monthly clip, in the U.S. whereas Spotify is growing at a 2 percent clip in the U.S. Spotify is more dominant from a global standpoint, but from a U.S. standpoint Apple Music is poised to eclipse Spotify. So especially given the fact that they're talking about IPOing, it makes a lot of sense that there's something kind of dramatic that they're looking to do.

 

Dave Kemp: [00:17:17] And so for me I look at this in one of two ways. You know on one hand it's sort of the adage that hardware is hard. I don't know if it's so feasible for someone like Spotify, you know entirely a software company now, to just jump into the hardware space. I think that might be pretty challenging for them to do. Maybe they can pull it off. I'm not really sure, but it seems like their biggest competition would be you know the music player being Apple right as we all know that the HomePod isn't a smart speaker, it's touted to be I guess a music experience. So that would be their main competition and you're competing with you know a supply chain company that specializes in hardware. So it seems like that might be kind of daunting. I saw an article by Amaal Mallik where he was hypothesizing or maybe it would make sense for Sonos, I'm sorry Spotify, to go and buy Sonos. And so I thought that was really interesting because I look at it more like rather than, I think they should definitely vertically integrate in a way, you know especially because HomePod is limited to Apple Music. So I think that a partnership here might be a little bit more feasible, a little less daunting.

 

Dave Kemp: [00:18:33] So for me I look at that partnership as being threefold. You would need you know the software be Spotify; you want the hardware, I think Sonos would be a really good fit given that Sonos doesn't really have an affiliation yet. And then the third piece would be you know how do you control that? And I think that you'd want some sort of voice control with that. That to me, I know Brett in the Voicebot article he was kind of ascertaining that maybe SoundHound would be a good option here. That was really intriguing to me because I think you know SoundHound, given the fact that they came from music recognition, I think that could open the doors to some really interesting possibilities around recognizing music and making it just a an experience that's all built around music, whether it be Playlist and curating Playlist and all types of different things around music. So those were some of my thoughts. You know I just think that for them to post two job postings and say we're going to get into the hardware game and compete against someone like Apple, that just seems to me like a pretty daunting task. And to me I really like the idea of them getting into hardware, but I would opt for more of a partnership approach where they go and either acquire or partner with some of these different non-affiliated manufacturers.

 

Sarah Storm: [00:19:52] I'm excited. I'm really excited. I'm very curious to see how their hardware will be different, if it will be different, how it will be different. I think as we were saying earlier on, any time that more competitors enter a space to innovate and execute their passions and their ideas, I think it's great for the market. I think it's fantastic for consumers. Maybe Spotify will hit on something innovative and new that neither of the tech giants has come up with yet, or maybe they'll approach the market a different way. The piece that stuck out to me oddly was it wasn't mentioned about their content, the possibility that it could run other content at lower costs and improve their margins. And it started me wondering and completely speculating and fantasizing about like what if they chased like a B2B relationship. Where else do people's ear - like if Apple and Google and Amazon owned people's ears in place X, like is their place Y where maybe that's not the case and Spotify is going to chase that market. I thought of elevators. I don't know. I was just imagining where they could make a play. Who knows what they'll come up with? I'm excited to see and I think it will probably really benefit consumers. It will certainly be exciting. It will just be exciting for the market I think.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:21:15] I completely agree, and Spotify is a unique creature in my mind. I respect what they're doing so much because you know if you recall when Apple announced Apple music, it was one of the most bombastic announcements and precedents I have ever seen. And that's not necessarily a negative. I mean I'm cool with that. But it was, what it was followed up by was sort of this clumsy interface, which they have not fixed, some dabbling into video content like Carpool Karaoke, which I routinely make fun of because that's exactly what it deserves. And they spend a ton of money on it. I mean a ton of money on Carpool Karaoke. Just to continue to single that out. So they've got some focus problems, in addition to not doing things well that they used to do really well, such as user interface. And here's Spotify over here. Spotify, my mental image is just Spotify continues to just punch them in the face. They continue to take market share. They continue to improve on the core product. I think if you lined up 100 random people who use both, ninety nine are going to tell you that they like the Spotify experience better.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:22:44] So you know not to say that Apple Music can't improve on these things, and it looks like it's the focus of the business, and it is making the company money by all reports. But Spotify has got apple right where they want them. And Dave I love the idea that you had about partnering with or just flat out acquiring somebody, you know Sonos or whoever. And vertically integrating like that rather than trying to reinvent the wheel. No matter what they do, I think you've got to take them seriously.

 

Sarah Storm: [00:23:16] I'm curious about as they move into hardware how that's going to affect their relationships with the markets they're already in right now. Not markets, right now they're able to be in on these other devices and I wonder are we going to see a siloing of hardware/software to particular devices, or if they'll still maintain their relationship. Because right now I think that's part of what's really helping them be such a fierce competitor.

 

Dave Kemp: [00:23:39] I'd say too that you know one thing to keep in mind is that it isn't necessarily a smart speaker. You know the postings were a little bit ambiguous, it didn't specify what hardware they were making, and it's just speculation that it would be a smart speaker; Whether that would be, I don't know, in-ear earbuds or something like that, or maybe just an entirely different device itself. So I agree with you Bradley, I would not underestimate them at all. I think that they've shown that they're incredibly innovative, they're a smart company and I think that you know it might be something that's entirely different, maybe something around curating music given that that's one of their main differentiators on Apple Music. I'm a huge Spotify fan and that's something that they do really well, is recommending music for you based on your likes. I don't know Apple's curation as well, but it seems to me like that's one of their strong points of differentiation. So maybe they could create a piece of hardware that's built around recommending music for you and trying to identify new things that you might like.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:24:44] I definitely agree with the thought process that coming out with hardware may not be as simple as coming out with hardware. Everything may not stay the same. They may start to get treated differently from other companies that make hardware, that while Spotify didn't make hardware while they were just a software company maybe Amazon and Google we're like yeah come on in. And you know maybe post having a smart speaker product, maybe that dynamic changes and a lot of that too might depend on if Spotify decides to have a strategy in which there's some exclusive content that lives on their smart speaker and it's not available anywhere else. Yeah there's a lot that could happen with this. And so the commentary that y'all gave was excellent and so it will be well worth watching. I'm sure this is far from the last that we'll talk about this on this show.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:25:49] Story number three from Forbes, Meet The Voice Marketer. This is an interesting one. And yes this is sort of a one off piece that one of their contributors wrote, sort of an advertorial sort of deal, but I think that this piece raises a lot of interesting questions and it does it right off the very first line. The first line of the article, which I'm just going to read verbatim, "What will your brand sound like and what will it have to say?" There are a lot of people around the world thinking about that question. Sarah I want to start with you. What is your answer to that? What is it that brands should be thinking about? What is it that marketers should be thinking about? How should this voice technology be leveraged in your mind for companies?

 

Sarah Storm: [00:26:38] I think about in two tracks. It's early days for all of this and I really feel that content is key. I think we don't need gimmicks, we don't need stunts like the occasional brilliant idea maybe, and we don't need gimmicks or stunts. We want to build great content that is habit-forming, that really captures our attention that makes us feel welcome and comfortable in this space. To go to your app point, there are a lot of apps right now in the voice space for rain sounds. I think we've hit the limit. We're good. I think its things about like how does a brand want to tell their story? How does a company want to be perceived? What's the voice of that in the way that you're talking about books really? What do we want, what do you want our brand to sound like? And that's something to consider, and then really to consider the power of the human voice and human conversation as this space is developed. We respond well when we feel that the machine understands us. So I think as we proceed with these experiences, we have to make sure that we're developing experiences that don't highlight that we're speaking to machines.

 

Sarah Storm: [00:27:48] The latter part of this piece particularly spoke to me, assuming that voice works in the way of conversations that we already understand.  So reading from the article here, "and when we ask a question we want a relevant and tightly aligned answer. When we are doing something aligned with our interests and a friend has a good idea we're receptive to inspiration." I think that as a key take away from this. We want to think about what works in conversation already and build from there. I think that's the key to great marketing in this space is going to be taking that idea and iterating.

 

Dave Kemp: [00:28:21] So I think that really the million dollar question right now for marketers and brands is to figure out the balance between you know being creepy and anticipating what people want. I think that's sort of a - it's a hard line right now I think for a lot of people, because I think that voice assistants provide access to people's you know personal data in a way that we haven't really seen before. And in some regards it kind of goes to what Brian was talking about at the Alexa Conference, all around you know this being built with your smart, or your small data you know, as opposed to big data, it's small that is specific to the personal user. So if brands have access to that you know it starts with a kind of open the door to some possibilities that we haven't had before.

 

Dave Kemp: [00:29:10] Like for example, Bradley I'll just use you, like let's say that you have in your calendar you have saying your son's birthday is coming up in a few weeks and you know let's say that you bought tickets off of StubHub before and StubHub has access to your personal data so that you know it can see, oh hey Bradley your son's birthdays coming up. How about taking him to a Nashville Predators game or something like that. So is that, wow that's great. I'm really glad that you know that I'm getting that from the smart assistant and the brand knows that or you know is that creepy? And so I think that's kind of where we're at and I think that's going to be the question that marketers are going to have to ask themselves. If we have access to all this data, how do we approach it in a way where it's not really going to be perceived as creepy and turn people off?

 

Sarah Storm: [00:30:09] I think that's so important. The way that, like if we think about the things that creep people out about the visual experiences they're having right now, those are places to look with a wary eye maybe, you know the way that an ad for you know the coffee that you just bought continues to follow you every website for weeks. You know people speak up about that being a thing they don't enjoy. And I think the challenge will be how do you - I am totally on board with what you just said. Like how do we find the sweet spot between meeting consumers' needs and making them feel appreciative of the technology, and not responding the way we do to buckets of spam e-mail or lots of ads popping up over and over.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:30:51] I completely agree and I think it's a great insight to look at the visual aspects of what we don't like about the Web and what we don't like about our privacy being intruded upon, in the feeling of our privacy being intruded upon, because really at the end of the day when someone says their privacy is intruded upon what are they actually telling you? What they're actually telling you is that the value that they got from whatever it is that just happened is less than the feelings of insecurity/privacy being violated. Somebody sends an e-mail out to 10000 people that never signed up for an e-mail list and that e-mail contains information about something that all 10000 of those people are dying to know about, how many spam reports do think they're going to get? Zero, even though nobody signed up for that list and it was just totally unsolicited. So the way I look at this, and you know I profess - I'm sure this is not everyone's opinion, but as we look toward voice technology the opportunities to make lives better, make lives easier, more accessible, make opportunities more accessible to people, all of those things are very right for privacy tradeoffs in my mind.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:32:16] I mean Dave to your point about my son, I'm sure my wife would agree with this, if there were something coming up like let's say for example that the Echo told me one morning "hey Bradley you've got this friend's birthday coming up tomorrow, or let's say next week, we know that you forgot this last year because in your e-mails we have seen that you apologized for this last year." Maybe you didn't explain all this it just somehow have access to my e-mail and saw I apologize for missing person's birthday last year. You missed a birthday last year, we know that. Why don't you order what this person likes which we also happen to know from this retailer. It's discounted today. You want to go and order that and ship it to them? You know how much of a privacy violation is that? That's incredibly invasive, but the value that I would feel like I would get out of that would exceed that. So I don't know, somewhere in there I think is the answer and hopefully marketers are understanding this technology to such an extent to where they know that this is the frontier and this is not just regurgitation of Web sites. You know that's one of my favorite things about Bob with VoiceXP as he talks about with voice experiences, you don't want it to be a regurgitation of your Web site how terrible is that. You know, this needs to be more interactive and more encompassing than that.

 

Dave Kemp: [00:33:38] Yeah I agree with you there. I mean the fact is that I think this will become increasingly more relevant as that they are going to have access probably to a lot of it you know in that scenario. So to your point, it's like I think that's what I was trying to allude to is the need to establish what is kind of too invasive and what is actually proactively helping you out. And I think that's where the rubber meets the road here is to establish you know what exactly that is.

 

Sarah Storm: [00:34:09] I think the companies that are able to find that sweet spot between value add and privacy tradeoff are going to do incredibly well and be very popular and probably become the leaders in this space. I'm excited to see what will happen, but as you said there's a big opportunity for a lot of good to be done. I think companies and marketers need to proceed with both eyes open and thinking about all sides of that issue.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:34:34] Moving on to story number four. It's rare for me, I just have to laugh. I can't control myself. It's rare for me to include a story like this in this show. It's very hard for me to tell, outside of one or two give away lines, if this was an actual story or not. I had to read really closely and I guess that's a good exercise to go through. But the name of the story is Local Man To Marry Amazon Alexa and it's got the picture of who I later came to find out is the author of this article, who I guess is presenting himself as the man who's marrying Alexa. It's hard to even tell from that. There have been actual stories of people proposing to Alexa in the tens maybe to hundreds of thousands of times you know, not that they really want to marry Alexis. I guess they say that they're proposing and just to see what it says. I really don't know.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:35:33] I'm including this story for one main reason, but I want to get y'all's take on it and what stood out to you. I think that the takeaway for me here is that at the point at which you've got local, small town publication with the humorous off the beaten path columnist writing about voice technology and Alexa in this manner where there is no explanation, actually minimal explanation, there is some explanation of what Alexa is, and then just get straight into the article. I would say we've reached a kind of peak, maybe we've reached the pinnacle you know in terms of adoption and in terms of awareness. I think this has a lot to say. It means a lot in terms of you know it is a very safe place to invest time and resources at this point if you're seeing this type of thing come forth, and Dave I want to start with you. This is kind of a wacky article. What did you think as you looked at this? What did you take away, if anything?

 

Dave Kemp: [00:36:44] This is a very bizarre article. I was laughing. I had it read a couple times because I was very confused by you know who exactly was marrying Alexa. I like too how it says that "La Rue contends Alexa is kissing up to Vernest so he will keep ordering items from Amazon", like this is just crazy. I got to get a good kick out of it. I mean I remember there was an article that like, I think it was a couple of years ago, but it was like five hundred thousand people have said "I love you" to Alexa. So it kind of brings in like the old movie of her and the fact that the guy at the end, he's like gets his heart broken by I guess his smart system. But I don't know this article in general I just had a good laugh. I agree with you and I encourage everybody to go check it out. It's pretty wacky.

 

Sarah Storm: [00:37:39] So I was curious and it wants to be an onion piece. It was funny and when it aspires to onion head I think. He's lifted his character names from a 80s movie called Harlem Nights. Vernest and Dominique are from Harlem Nights.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:37:56] That was totally lost on me, but keep going.

 

Sarah Storm: [00:37:59] Oh no I didn't - I was like - I Googled - I was like I wonder where he's getting - I just was curious and I started Googling names and that's what I came up with. I didn't know that off the top of my head. I just thought that that was sort of interesting. I don't know if there's any relevance other than maybe he loves the movie. It was funny. I think it does speak to the ubiquitous of the device if we can make jokes about things without much explanation, then it's everywhere and solidly so. I think he had an interesting little dig at Alexa as a purchasing powerhouse. It's just - it's funny and silly and I had this thought like at this point in history when I read satire I do find myself wondering how long until fiction becomes some sort of twisty reality. I think we might see someone trying it who knows. It's just funny, it’s worth a chuckle, and it’s worth a read.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:38:54] I definitely thought it was worth including. I thought it was worth the discussion. I do wonder, one of the things that crossed my mind is do the people of Amazon, or you know even the people at Google or Apple or anybody involved in this space, do they look at these stories and laugh or do they look at these stories with disgust? I guess another way to phrase it. If this were a real story, and I want to get both yours take on this before we close out on this on this one, let's have a hypothetical situation for a moment, because I guarantee you this is going to happen, probably sooner than anyone cares to think about. Let's say for a moment that there's a very real story reported that some man wants to marry Alexa and is actually going to have a ceremony in which they marry, just throwing this out there, Amazon Echo Show with Alex. Now is Amazon going to want to be present at that? Are they going to support that in any way or acknowledge it in any way, or are they going to ignore it and put their fingers in their ears and hum a song and wander off the other direction and act like it doesn't exist or put their head in the sand like an ostrich? Sarah I'll start with you. What do you think?

 

Sarah Storm: [00:40:21] Well I think when it's things like that, when it's satire that they're reading first of all to answer the first question, I hope and I suspect pretty strongly that people have a good chuckle when the things that they're working on are brought into the realm of humor and satire. It means people are talking about it, people are thinking. When we get to the hypothetical point of somebody attempting to marry a device, I suspect that context will have a lot to do with it. There is an Australian artist who has married at least two bridges at this point, and her name is Jodi Rose. I had remembered her and I googled her. She's married a bridge; I don't know maybe she just married the one bridge. She married Le Pont du Diable Bridge in Ceret, southern France. So yeah, I mean and we don't have to delve into that piece. Although it's there, you can read all about it on a couple of different things online. I think probably - I can't really speculate on how people react. I suspect some people will find humor in it. Some people will probably be horrified and some people will see it as artistic expression. I don't know. I think if I were designing an AI experience and someone felt so attached and close to that experience that they wanted to be in a relationship with it, I would think I had done a really great job of building a really well-rounded, versatile, convincing AI. That would my first thought. Then I have a personal opinion on people marrying inanimate objects, but you know I feel like - I would take away that I had done my job designing a compelling experience.

 

Dave Kemp: [00:42:08] I agree with you. You know your initial point like this is peak Alexa right now. This is peak like where we're at. I wouldn't be surprised if we you know in the not too distant future see pictures of somebody on the altar with like an Echo or something like that. So I don't know, I just think that it's just kind of a sign of the times, you know whether it be satire or people just trying to make - get attention through it. I'm not really sure, I just find it all pretty amusing and I would imagine that you know the people at Alexa probably find it pretty humorous too, free press. So that's the way I would end it.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:42:53] There's no doubt there will be challenging stories that have to do with this technology. We've seen some already you know things such as hey we're the FBI, hand over your device now and all the data. That's just one example of many different, an array of different types of examples that could be challenging stories. This is definitely meant to be humorous. It took me longer than perhaps a normal person to figure that out. But we'll just ignore that and press on. I appreciate y'all patronizing me on our stories on our docket.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:43:33] The last one is just a promotional item to close this out. We are very pleased to have announced The Voice of Healthcare Summit taking place Tuesday, August the 7th in Boston. It will be at a place called The Martin Conference Center at Harvard Medical School. We're going high end here with the venue, but we felt like we wanted a place that sits right in the middle of the health care district in Boston where a lot of innovative work is going on. Super happy about having Ilana Shalowitz be our keynote. Anyone who was at the Alexa Conference got to hear her speak, if you did, you fully understand why we're having her back. It was a really phenomenal presentation that she made and just a perfect fit for this. We've announced some speakers already including Matt Cybulsky who's my cohost on The Voice of Healthcare, Dr. Terry Fischer who is a Canadian physician who runs the Alexa and Canada podcast. We've got several other speakers that we're working to line up now, and more information will be coming out about that soon. If you want to register for it already or stay up on it, the website is www.vohsummit.com and we'll link to it in the show notes.

 

Dave Kemp: [00:44:46] Yeah I think it's awesome. You know being in the health care space I think this is great. You know I was at the Alexa Conference and for anybody listening that wasn't there, I would definitely recommend going to this one if you have any interest in what's going on. I mean getting the chance to network and meet with all of some of the smartest people in the space is reason enough to go, but like you said you know the keynote speaker Ilana Shalowitz is amazing. And … I think there's areas that are ripe for Alexa in my eyes. Health care, I might be a little bit biased, but it's just glaringly obvious. So I can't wait. I think it's going to be really good to just kind of continue the discussion. We're in February now. By August I imagine that there’s going to be a ton of new developments along the way that will be discussed there. So I'm really looking forward to it, I think it's going to be awesome.

 

Sarah Storm: [00:45:40] I think health is the most personal story a person can share with someone. And then there are so many interesting implications for leveraging voice technology, as you've just said Dave, into that space and that sounds like a fantastic event.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:45:53] Appreciate that. Appreciate that. Yeah we're super excited about it and excited to continue to make announcements. So if you listen to the show, following what we do at VoiceFirst.FM and the sound of this has interest you, definitely keep an eye on it. There's no question the speakers who will be there will be well worth your time and the rest of the program will be as well. So thank you all for bearing with me on that as well and I just want to thank both of you Dave and Sara both, thank you for your time today. It was greatly appreciated.

 

Sarah Storm: [00:46:28] Thank you so much for having us. This is really fun.

 

Dave Kemp: [00:46:31] Yeah, thanks a lot Bradley. This was awesome.

 

Bradley Metrock: [00:46:33] For This Week In Voice, Season 2, Episode 5, thank you for listening and until next time.

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