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The Good, Bad and the Absolute Ugly of Virtual Home Assistants!

 

By 2018 all of us carrying those smartphones and tablets know precisely how the virtual assistants work and respond to our needs. We can ask them about the weather or time or to book a table and make a call getting a response within no time. Everybody spent a good share of time figuring out how they retort even to the silliest of our queries and accept it or not but we had a good laugh doing that!

Our life is now entirely reliant on technology, and the dependence has spread to such an extent that to envision a life without smartphones for a single day can make us sweat with terror and cluelessness!

Virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google Now for all android phones, etc. are evolving at a much faster rate, they are capable of saving your money, time and improve your security but cannot deny the fact that there exists an underlying possibility of the technology going rogue and backfiring.  

What then?

With this post, we try to serve you with the positives, negatives and look into how venomous your virtual home assistants can turn out to be.

The Good

1) Home security: When you connect your smart home security devices to your virtual home assistant, you assure yourself that your property will remain safe. Take for example if you connect Amazon Alexa device to your security camera system, and once it gets enabled on your Alexa app, you can issue voice commands to Alexa to meet your home security needs.

2) Economize your energy bills: If your home has next-generation lighting options, you can make use of virtual assistants to control them. For example, by connecting a smart thermostat to your Google home or Alexa, you can make them the in-charge and while leaving home either for office or when you casually go out you can ask your virtual assistant to turn the heating off. Thus it helps you save energy and cut down the cash flow.

3) Makes your flights cheaper: Your Google home or Alexa are capable of telling you how much the flights cost to the city you want to fly. All you have to do is say those magical words out loud! ‘Ok Google, how much are flights to Bangalore?’ this enables your assistant to ask you a few more questions to study your preferences after which you can get an email from Google Flights about the prices. Similarly, by using Alexa, you can learn more about bargains utilizing the travel search engine SkyScanner.

4) Makes taking cabs cheaper: If you have set-up your default location for pick-up already in your Alexa app, we bet life becomes so easy. All you have to say is ‘Alexa ask Uber/Ola for a ride,’ and you get to take a cab directly from home. Alexa can also inform you about the location of the nearest cab, and you change your pick-up location accordingly if need be.  You are also notified if there happen to be any surge pricing thus aiding you to change your decision and get the best price possible.

The positives aren’t just limited to these; your personal virtual assistants can send a text for you, make a call, find emails, solve simple and complex mathematical equations, play your favorite song, search for nearby restaurants, make jokes and even answer your profound, philosophical questions. They can be your friend in need!

The Bad

1) Security concerns: Even if your Echo interactions don’t hold any questionable importance to Amazon, but it stores them in the cloud where hacking can be an issue. Amazon, Google, and all the major companies providing you with virtual home assistants keep a tab on all your activities, and all data regarding your activity usage is collected and stored with them. Some people can find this to be concerning.

2) Not so strong voice recognition: Amazon and Google have one of the best voice recognition technology to date. It is definitely come a long way and undergone a lot of improvements. But tiny glitches are still present where one can often find themselves repeating certain words and sentences to make the smart device understand their demand.  

3) They come in a bit costly: You get to save a lot of time and money by making these virtual assistant devices an integral part of your daily life, but they do not come in at dirt low prices. The Google Home and Amazon Echo can cost around approximately 10k while Amazon Echo Plus comes at nearly 15k.

The Ugly

1) Concern for privacy can creep you out.  Amazon, Apple, Google keep store of all your searches. If you delete your search history, user data, and even the very recent voice input data, it won’t clear the cache these companies have on you. Companies like Google use such information to build your profile so that they can target ads at you. Your private details become essential for their business to bloom.

2) The speakers are always ‘On’ but they don’t act until you use the wake word to connect with them.  They don’t send your voice commands or not always keep recording until you say ‘Alexa’ or ‘OK Google.’ But having a microphone continuously listening to you can be bothersome for some people.


There are always two sides of a coin. Similarly, technology has a good and bad side. By only concentrating on the negatives we should not devoid ourselves of using the devices. Try looking at the brighter picture of how easy it has made life and the tedious chores for us.

 

Agam Chaudhary, a digital marketing consultant with a comprehensive experience of a decade in the marketing domain, cultivates an extensive vision of marketing. He fosters a firm belief in tangible results and his experience, intuitiveness, and expertise help him score the results he aims for- bridging the gap between digital marketing and business enterprises to bring about mutual success! He has worked for several preeminent brands like LG, Religare, HT, FICCI, and MacMillan, among many others. Contact him at agam@digitalabs.in.

 

 

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