In case you didn’t know, CES is this week.
I’m kidding. You have to live under a literal rock to not be aware it’s a geektastic event in Las Vegas, brimming with information on all the new gadgets that will work their way into your homes over the coming months.
There are always themes, of course, and the single biggest theme this year is #VoiceFirst. 2019 is when all your electronics, cars and appliances will start responding to you when you speak to them.
Tech companies have all caught on to the idea that voice is the new UI. Voice is a level-setter. Almost everyone can talk, and if the electronics in your home can understand what you need and respond, it dramatically simplifies everything you want to do.
The obvious leader in this #VoiceFirst world is Amazon, with Apple, Microsoft and others closely nipping at their heels. Alexa shows no signs of slowing down, creeping into other speakers and all facets of your day, most notably in your car with Echo Auto.
All this started simply, with modest commands to play a song or turn on the lights. This year you can expect to see more voice-enabled devices that do slightly more complicated things for the user.
Becoming #VoiceFirst represents a relatively massive shift for companies. Over the last 10-12 years, they were just getting comfortable with development in a #MobileFirst manner. I would argue that being #VoiceFirst is even more dramatic because it represents a way to update the interface of everything in your home as well as at work.
Being #MobileFirst was about the shift to a type of device, while #VoiceFirst represents an entire sea change across all your devices. We are raising an entire generation of consumers who will expect to speak to all their devices to get them to execute tasks. I have two boys and they talk to the TV to get it to play sports and shows. Until the other day, they didn’t even know there was a guide button that could be used to do the same thing. This is but one step forward for us, but it’s the norm for them.
What can you expect to see?
-- Voice-enabled ovens that you turn on to a specific temperature.
-- Voice-enabled cruise control with semi-autonomous elements in your car: Simply tell it the speed you want to go, and let it do the rest.
-- Voice-enabled home controls for temperature and lighting schedules.
-- Voice-enabled workspaces where you ask your computer to run a report that you previously created, but with updated information.
When you buy a new Microsoft tablet, the set-up process can be done using Cortana, creating an entirely voice-enabled onboarding process.
Voice is a universal skill and requires little to no explanation other than the establishment of some basic keywords, phrases and commands. Once these are more commonly understood, it's off to the races for companies looking to create these new means of engagement.
Your entire media experience is going to be designed this way in a matter of years -- and I for one am very excited about it.