Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Why People are Buzzing About Google Duplex

Voice personal assistants (VPA) are about to become everyone’s new (virtual) receptionists. Google has released their new version of Google Assistant at the Google developer I/O 2018 festival, where the voice-controlled smart assistant can actually complete tasks for you, called Duplex.

A VPA Recap
We all know and love them…Amazon’s Echo and Google Home. They’ve been in a bit of an arms race since the beginning, with the Amazon launching Echo (you may know her as Alexa) launching first, and Google launching their Google Home device nearly two years later. Echo’s first launch had the early mover advantage, leading to higher rate of consumer adoption for the VPA-enabled machines. But even with a late start, Google’s Home and Home Mini held their own–both featuring Google’s signature smart AI speaker, Google Assistant, which is powered by natural language processing. Google had recognitive voice processing first, aka the device being able to tell the difference between users, and Amazon quickly prioritized their tech teams to get voice recognition launched by spring 2017. With this brand new Duplex release from Google, it looks like the Google Home is no longer playing catch up…it’s setting its own rules (and setting your appointments).

So…What Exactly Happened at Google I/O?
We got to see Duplex in action…and it’s jaw-dropping. Google’s speaker representative showed off a pre-recorded phone call between a hair salon and Google Assistant, where the AI system was able to take the user’s request of booking a hair appointment with a certain salon between 10 a.m. and noon. The AI system was able to understand when the receptionist said there were no appointments available at the salon at noon and Assistant replied that the earlier appointment would work. The showcase allowed Google to prove that their VPA devices are equipped with far more advanced tech than Amazon’s and other competitors, even being able to recognize human voice sub-vocals like ‘umm’ and ‘err’.

Technological advancements like this encourage brands to rethink their current brand experiences and how they could create more immersive and engaging customer journeys through v-commerce. A restaurant could prioritize their mobile-responsive site to update hours, a phone number, and link to Yelp reviews so that the Assistant can tell users the correct information, hopefully leading to more reservations or take-out orders. The use cases here will most likely explode as the tech develops and creates integration with today’s brand experiences. Staying on top of important trends like this one could foster unique and lasting relationships with your more tech-advanced consumers who want the flawless journey that Google Assistant creates.