IKEA’s New Smart Lighting Will Support Alexa, Google Assistant, And Siri

What Happened
IKEA is embracing conversational interfaces as it announced on Tuesday that it is adding voice command support to its TRÅDFRI line of affordable connected lighting, which includes several different LED bulbs with prices starting at $11.99 in the US. Coming this summer, the updated line will be compatible with Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple’s HomeKit (which uses Siri) for voice control. Besides, users will also be able to control the lights via the respective apps.

What Brands Need To Do
By integrating with the three most popular smart home systems, this new line will undoubtedly be versatile enough to appeal to a wide range of smart home shoppers. That, plus its competitive pricing, should help push more consumers to try out connect lighting and familiarize themselves with the voice-controlled smart home setup.

According to BI Intelligence estimates, connected-home device shipments hit 1.8 billion units shipped in 2019. Most of them will support some type of voice control, most likely through integration with digital assistants, as IKEA is doing here, as opposed to building their own voice command solutions. As the availability of smart home devices rapidly grows, they provide a valuable emerging platform for brands to connect with consumers at home via voice, and brands should take a proactive approach and start experimenting with voice experiences.

How We Can Help
The Lab has extensive experience in building Alexa Skills and chatbots to reach consumers on conversational interfaces. So much so that we’ve built a dedicated conversational practice called Dialogue. The “Miller Time” Alexa Skill we developed with Drizly for Miller Lite is a good example of how Dialogue can help brands build a conversational customer experience, supercharged by our stack of technology partners with best-in-class solutions and an insights engine that extracts business intelligence from conversational data.

If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively reach consumers on conversational interfaces, or to leverage the Lab’s expertise to take on related client opportunities within the IPG Mediabrands, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Barrett (samantha@ipglab.com) to schedule a visit to the Lab.

 

 


Source: The Verge

What To Expect From 2017 Google I/O Conference

Google is set to kick off its 2017 I/O Developer Conference on Wednesday to announce some of its latest software and hardware news. As with years past, the Lab has been keeping a close tab on Google, with special interests in the developments Google Assistant and Google Home. Here’s a round-up of all the news Google has announced so far, along with what we expect to see from this year’s Google I/O event.

Android-Powered Connected Cars
Google is teaming up with Audi and Volvo to ship car systems running on Android operating system. This means cars running Android infotainment system will also include Google Assistant, allowing car owners to use voice command to carry out various tasks such as searching on the go, asking for directions, and making phone calls. Google is expected to show off live demonstrations of the operating system running on the Audi Q8 and Volvo V90 SUVs at the I/O event.

Conversational Interfaces And Voice Assistant
In addition, Google has also updated Allo, the messaging app it introduced last year that has yet to gain much traction among mobile users, with selfie-generated stickers. Google is also making it easier for Allo users to add people to group chats by supporting QR codes for groups.

Speaking of Google Assistant, the company is also reportedly working on bringing the voice assistant to iOS devices by adding it to the Google Search iOS app. It would be a similar tactic that Amazon deployed to get Alexa on iOS, and although it likely won’t guarantee much increase in usage, it does significantly boost the accessibility of its AI-powered assistant service for iOS users.

For this year’s event, we expect to see major updates to Google Assistant as well as new its hardware partners, as Google continues to duke it out with Amazon in the smart speaker space. So far, Amazon is leading that emerging market with a 70% market share, thanks to the first-mover advantage it scored with the Echo products. Google Home is a distant second with a 23.8% share, which means Google still has a lot of catching up to do.

Standalone Daydream VR Headset
Outside the conversational assistant and smart home space, we also hope to see some updates regarding Google’s Daydream VR. First launched at last year’s Google I/O event, the Daydream VR system has not gained much momentum in consumer adoption, largely hindered by the limited number of mobile handsets supporting it. Google is reportedly going to demo a “standalone Daydream VR headset” at this year’s I/O event, according to Variety.

Beyond these key areas of interests, we also expect to see more announcements on the next generation of the Android OS, Chrome OS, Instant Apps, Android Wear, and Android TV.

Please check back later this week for the Lab’s in-depth analysis of all the things marketers need to know from Google’s I/O conference event this year. Follow us on Twitter @ipglab for our live updates.

 


Sources: As linked in the post

 

Google Launches “AIY Projects” To Facilitate more AI Integrations

What Happened
Google looks to put Google Assistant in more third-party devices by launching AIY Projects, an open-source reference project that will include several do-it-yourself artificial intelligence reference kits for developers to tap into. The first one being released is a Voice Kit designed to work with a Raspberry Pi to create a voice-based virtual assistant. Google says it aims to help more people build voice command interfaces directly into products or use cloud APIs like the Google Assistant SDK released two weeks ago. The Voice Kit will be for sale at Barnes & Noble stores nationwide in the US.

What Brands Need To Do
This new initiative makes it easier for hardware makers to experiment with voice command interfaces, which, in turn, could lead to more Google Assistant integrations. As the competition between voice assistants starts to heat up, consumers will have multiple options to choose from, which means brands will need to develop voice experiences for multiple platforms in order to maximize their reach. According to ComScore, half of all searches will be voice searches by 2020, and brands need to prepare for that near future by developing conversational experiences for various platforms to make them readily accessible to customers.

 


Source: 9to5 Google

Google Releases SDK For Integrating Google Assistant Into Third-Party Devices

What Happened
On Thursday, Google released a software development kit (SDK) in “developer preview,” marking the start of allowing third-party hardware manufacturers to integrate its voice assistant in their products. Google Assistant is currently only available on select Android phones and smartwatches, Google’s Allo chat app, as well as its smart speaker Google Home. Using the “Actions on Google” API launched last year, developers can already create their own conversational experiences for Google Assistant.

What Brands Need To Do
This new SDK should help Google Assistant get on more connected devices, helping it to stay competitive with Amazon’s Alexa, which launched Alexa Voice Service (AVS) back in June of 2015 to allow hardware makers to add Alexa to their devices. For now, Alexa will likely still get to enjoy an early lead in the voice assistant race for a while, but as the competition heats up, consumers will have an increasing array of options to choose from. Google Assistant do have one big advantage over Alexa in search, and according to ComScore, by 2020, half of all searches will be voice searches. Brands needs to prepare for that future by developing conversational experiences for various platforms to make them readily accessible to customers.

How We Can Help
The Lab has extensive experience in building Alexa Skills and chatbots to reach consumers on conversational interfaces. So much so that we’ve built a dedicated conversational practice called Dialogue. The “Miller Time” Alexa Skill we developed with Drizly for Miller Lite is a good example of how Dialogue can help brands build a conversational customer experience, supercharged by our stack of technology partners with best-in-class solutions and an insights engine that extracts business intelligence from conversational data.

If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively reach consumers on conversational interfaces, or to leverage the Lab’s expertise to take on related client opportunities within the IPG Mediabrands, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Barrett (samantha@ipglab.com) to schedule a visit to the Lab.

 


Source: Ars Technica

Mercedes-Benz Lets Drivers Choose Between Alexa And Google Assistant

What Happened
Alexa and Google Assistant will be duking it out on Mercedes-Benz vehicles, as the German automaker announced on Friday it will be integrating both voice assistants into all of its 2016 and 2017 models in the U.S. Starting today, Mercedes owners can instruct their Google Home or Amazon Echo to remotely start or lock their vehicles, as well as send addresses to their in-car navigation system. Users will need to have an active “Mercedes me” account and link it up to the Google Home or Amazon Alexa app for the integration to work.

What Brands Need To Do
Mercedes is not the only auto brand that are giving consumer options to choose when it comes to digital voice assistants. Hyundai, who just added support for Google Assistant last week, was the first auto brand to roll out Alexa integrations back in November. As more auto brands start actively pursuing the potential of in-car conversational interfaces, more and more consumers will become addressable via these voice assistants, and brands will need to seize the initiative to navigate the emerging opportunities and challenges of shifting from a screen-based interaction to a voice experience.

How We Can Help
The Lab has extensive experience in building Alexa Skills and chatbots to reach consumers on conversational interfaces. So much so that we’ve built a dedicated conversational practice called Dialogue. The “Miller Time” Alexa Skill we developed with Drizly for Miller Lite is a good example of how Dialogue can help brands build a conversational customer experience, supercharged by our stack of technology partners with best-in-class solutions and an insights engine that extracts business intelligence from conversational data.

If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively reach consumers on conversational interfaces, or to leverage the Lab’s expertise to take on related client opportunities within the IPG Mediabrands, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Barrett (samantha@ipglab.com) to schedule a visit to the Lab.

 

 


Source: Engadget

You Can Now Remote Control Your Hyundai Via Google Assistant

What Happened
If you happen to be both a Hyundai owner and a Google Home user, now your car is ready for voice command. The South Korean carmaker announced on Thursday that it has officially enabled the Google Assistant integration with its BlueLink connected car system, as promised at this year’s CES. This update allows owners of recent Hyundai models to remotely control several aspects of their vehicles. For example, users can ask Google Assistant to start their vehicles, set climate control, send directions to the on-board navigation, or unlock/lock the vehicle among other functions.

What Brands Need To Do
This is not the first time Hyundai has integrated its connected car system with a voice assistant. In November 2016, the company extended its BlueLink app to support voice command via Amazon’s Alexa. Now with this Google Assistant integration, Hyundai is further committing to make its vehicles useful with voice-activated conversational interfaces, which opens up new possibilities for them to connect with customers at home. As automakers experiment with smart home device connectivity to expand the reach of their services, other brands should take note and start exploring this space to reach customers beyond mobile as well.

How We Can Help
The Lab has extensive experience in building Alexa Skills and chatbots to reach consumers on conversational interfaces. So much so that we’ve built a dedicated conversational practice called Dialogue. The “Miller Time” Alexa Skill we developed with Drizly for Miller Lite is a good example of how Dialogue can help brands build a conversational customer experience, supercharged by our stack of technology partners with best-in-class solutions and an insights engine that extracts business intelligence from conversational data.

If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively reach consumers on conversational interfaces, or to leverage the Lab’s expertise to take on related client opportunities within the IPG Mediabrands, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Barrett (samantha@ipglab.com) to schedule a visit to the Lab.


Source: 9to5 Google

Google Assistant Coming To More Android Phones

What Happened
Google is expanding the reach of its voice assistant service to a lot more devices as it continues to compete against Amazon’s Alexa in conquering the emerging conversational market. Starting this week, Google is starting to roll out Google Assistant to every Android phone, 6.0 and up, for U.S. users.  The voice assistant feature was previously confined to the Google Pixel phones and Google’s smart speaker Home. Google says the gradual roll out will take weeks and will replace the existing “OK Google” voice command features on many Android phones.

What Brands Need To Do
This roll out will no doubt get Google Assistant into the hands of more mobile users and further familiarize mainstream consumers with the rising AI-powered conversational services. With Alexa dominating the IoT devices at this year’s CES and more and more brands embracing virtual assistants and chatbots to improve customer service, brands need to start developing a conversational strategy to figure out how conversational interfaces may improve your customer experience.

How We Can Help
The Lab has extensive experience in building Alexa Skills and chatbots to reach consumers on conversational interfaces. So much so that we’ve built a dedicated conversational practice called Dialogue. The “Miller Time” Alexa Skill we developed with Drizly for Miller Lite is a good example of how Dialogue can help brands build a conversational customer experience, supercharged by our stack of technology partners with best-in-class solutions and an insights engine that extracts business intelligence from conversational data.

If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively reach consumers on conversational interfaces, or to leverage the Lab’s expertise to take on related client opportunities within the IPG Mediabrands, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Holland (samantha@ipglab.com) to schedule a visit to the Lab.

 


Source: Ars Technica

Google Assistant Adds Support For WeMo And Honeywell Devices

What Happened
Google Assistant continues to play catch-up with Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service as it adds support for two prominent brands in smart home gadgets, Belkin’s Wemo and Honeywell. At this year’s CES, where Alexa basically dominated the show floor, Google Assistant also unveiled several upcoming brand integrations, including one with new Mercedes-Benz models as well as NVIDIA’s new connected home product line. Most recently, the search giant partnered with HBO to promote its hit show Westworld with a bot named Aeden that is programmed to answer some show-related questions.

What Brands Need To Do
As Google continues to add integrations for Google Assistant in order to compete with Alexa, voice-activated assistant services are quickly becoming more component. And if what we saw at CES earlier this month is any indication, they are set to take over the home space and bring AI-powered interfaces to mainstream consumers soon. Resultantly, it is becoming more evident than ever that voice-based brand-customer interaction is something that brands have to explore and master if they wish to establish a new touchpoint in consumers’ living rooms.

How We Can Help
The Lab has extensive experience in building chatbots and Alexa Skills to reach consumers on conversational interfaces, which we’ve leveraged to develop a dedicated conversational practice called Dialogue. The NiroBot we built in collaboration with Ansible for Kia is a good example of how Dialogue can help brands build a conversational customer experience supercharged by our stack of technology partners with best-in-class solutions and an insights engine that extracts business intelligence from conversational data.

If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively reach consumers on conversational interfaces, or to leverage the Lab’s expertise to take on related client opportunities within the IPG Mediabrands, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Holland (samantha@ipglab.com) to schedule a visit to the Lab.

 


Source: VentureBeat

Google Assistant May Soon Handle Your Payments

What Happened
Google is reportedly readying its voice-activated Assistant to store your credit card information and handle payment, opening up Google Assistant to a variety of ecommerce opportunities. In the latest update to the Google app, the company included a string of code that paves the way for payment integration. In comparison, Amazon’s Alexa can handle online purchases from the start as it is linked to user’s Amazon account and can access stored payment information.

What Brands Need To Do
As Google Assistant play catch up with Alexa in terms of functionality, Amazon still handily leads the voice assistant market, with an estimated 9 million Echo devices sold worldwide over this holiday season, bringing the total number of Echo devices in market to about 14 million. A new survey reports that 32% of Echo owners used Alexa to make purchases on Amazon. For brands, the popularization of digital assistant devices like Echo or Google Home opens up a new channel to reach customers in their living rooms via voice.

The Lab has extensive experience with building Alexa skills and helping brands navigate the new realities that conversational interfaces are set to bring. If you’re interested in learning more about our take on this topic, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Holland (samantha@ipglab.com) to schedule a visit to the Lab.

 


Source: 9to5Google

 

You Can Now Ask Alexa And Google Assistant To Order Pizza

What Happened
Alexa and Google Assistant both added “pizza-ordering” to their growing repertoire of capabilities this week as two national pizza chains launched support for the two AI-powered, voice-based digital assistant services. Amazon Echo users can now activate the Pizza Hut skill to access their favorite menu items and previous orders for a convenient reorder, whereas people using Google Home can order their pizzas from Domino’s by logging into their Domino’s profiles. Besides, Google Home also added several new functions to let users control Netflix playback or access information on CNN and WebMD.

What Brands Should Do
Domino’s is no stranger to getting its service on emerging conversational platforms, as the company launched a branded Alexa skill in February and created a pizza-ordering chatbot on Facebook Messenger this August. As more and more consumers become addressable via these voice-based smart home devices, it is up to brands to take the initiative to explore the shifting paradigm of brand-customer interactions they bring and find an authentic brand voice in order to connect with consumers. For more actionable suggestions on this topic, check out the Conversational Interfaces section in our Outlook 2016.

How We Can Help
The Lab has extensive experience in building Alexa Skills and chatbots to reach consumers on conversational interfaces. So much so that we’ve built a dedicated conversational practice called Dialogue. The NiroBot we built in collaboration with Ansible for Kia is a good example of how Dialogue can help brands build a conversational customer experience supercharged by our stack of technology partners with best-in-class solutions and an insights engine that extracts business intelligence from conversational data.

If you’d like to learn more about how to effectively reach consumers on conversational interfaces, or to leverage the Lab’s expertise to take on related client opportunities within the IPG Mediabrands, please contact our Client Services Director Samantha Holland (samantha@ipglab.com) to schedule a visit to the Lab.

 


Source: Engadget & TechCrunch