It feels like everything today is getting smart. There are smart vacuum cleaners, smart door locks, smart thermostats…smart everything. This revolution is being driven mostly by the rise of voice assistants with Amazon Alexa at the fore.
But if you think you have seen it all, you are wrong. If the ongoing 2018’s CES is any indication, we are just seeing the beginning of the take over of our devices by voice assistants.
Almost every hardware company from LG to Samsung are showing off built-in voice assistants as part of their new products. And Alexa is no longer the only voice in town. Google Assistant and Samsung’s Bixby are starting to come into their own.
2017 was already a big year for voice assistants. 2018 is looking up to be an even bigger one. Expect to see voice assistants in more devices from smart speakers to cars, TVs and home appliances.
Here are the new voice assistant-integrated products that have been showcased at CES so far.
Samsung Adds Bixby to its 2018 Smart TVs
Almost all TV manufacturers are opting for either Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant when they want to smarten up their sets. But Samsung is sticking with its own smart assistant, Bixby.
Bixby is already available on Samsung smartphones. Now they will add it to their 2018 TVs too. The aim is to bring the convenience and smarts that Bixby provides to Samsung phone owners to the TV.
Users will be able to control most of their TV functions just by talking. You can ask Bixby to show you a list of the latest shows, ask for a weather update, play music from Spotify and even control other smart devices such as your lights from the TV.
Samsung is planning to add a SmartThings app on their smart TVs. It will serve as a smart home hub where you can control everything compatible with Bixby from your TV. You can also receive notifications on the TV.
As of now, Bixby doesn’t match the range of compatibility of Alexa or even Google Assistant. So I’m not sure that many people will find the appeal of buying a Bixby-integrated TV for a home filled with Alexa-compatible devices.
LG Opts for Google Assistant in Select 2018 TVs
LG will integrate Google voice assistant into some of its 2018 televisions. They call it “Intelligent Voice Control with Integrated Google Assistant”. Quite a mouthful.
Users will be able to control their TVs via voice using the remote control or via Google Home speaker. They will be able to do things like turn on the TV, turn it off automatically when a program is over, search the soundtrack to a certain show or movie and many other commands.
Just like Bixby in Samsung TVs, Google Assistant will also turn LG TVs into smart home control hubs. You can send voice commands to any connected smart device that is compatible with Google Assistant be it your thermostat, lights or music system.
For Alexa users, LG says there will be an integrated Alexa skill that provides compatibility with Amazon Echo speakers. However, Alexa commands will be limited.
New Integrations for Amazon Alexa
If you’ve yet to get yourself an Echo speaker, it’s time you did (see our Amazon Echo review for buying advice). There are more and more devices you can control with the smart assistant.
Some of the new integrations unveiled at the 2018 CES include a talking mirror, Asus Voice (A router/Alexa speaker combo) and Whirlpool’s all-in-one washer and dryer.
New Integrations for Google Assistant
Though it’s far behind Alexa in terms of compatibility with smart devices, Google Assistant is quickly catching up.
One takeaway from events at CES and generally the last few months is that voice control is no longer a novel technology. Amazon Echo speakers topped Amazon’s sales charts during 2017’s holiday season and Google is stepping up its game by launching new speakers with display.
Even more notable is the move away from these speakers. As we have seen with the above TVs and devices, these virtual assistants can be integrated pretty much anywhere. You’ll no longer have to buy an Amazon Echo or Google Home to control your smart home. Most of the devices you buy will come with a smart assistant as standard.