AB Thinks  →  26th January 2017

Talking the talk

Ben Hall

I’m a sucker for the latest technology and it wasn’t long after its release that one of Amazon’s Echo Dots found its way to our living room.

It’s relatively early days for technology controlled solely by voice. Amazon Echo rivals Siri and Google Assistant still play second fiddle to the smartphones and tablets they use as base units, but the Echo has offered a glimpse into the future of screen-free technology at an affordable price. Time journalist Tim Bajarin has an interesting take on it.

The Echo‰’s use grows as you build the ecosystem of your home around it, working with tech such as central heating, light bulbs, kettles and so on. No traditional household appliance or function is safe as we enter the age of the virtual assistant.

Right now, I struggle to think of the groundbreaking way that a voice-driven assistant could alter the common workplace, but I’m sure a few years ago the prospect of smart tablets being a conventional part of any retail shopping experience would have seemed just as alien.

Remember the revolution of inputting the seven-digit product code from an Argos catalogue into one of the store’s non-colour, calculator-style fixed tablets to check stock? We’ve come a long way since then, with some websites offering delivery within an hour of a customer ordering a product online.

Automation and the simplification of proccesses is what voice-driven technology is all about, and with time-saving such a crucial part of any office these days, perhaps that’s the in for this kind of tech.

Maybe you could ask Alexa, the artificial intelligence behind the Echo‰’s software, to book a meeting room for you, check someone’s calendar to see if they’re free, or have it record an important conversation.

As the integration between the software of virtual assistants and everyday technology grows, it’s only a matter of time before these processes sneak into the workplace.

Hopefully when it arrives at AB, we’ll cope with voice-driven technology better than the chaps from Scottish comedy Burnistoun did…