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The voice-activated smart home

15. January 2019 Published by Raphael Doerr

The American research company Business Insider Intelligence assumes that the number of smart home devices in the U.S. will surpass the one billion mark by 2023. And Germany is also becoming smarter and smarter, as evidenced by the data from the Statista Digital Market Outlook: At least one smart home application is now in use in 6.1 million households there. That figure is expected to increase to 13.5 million by 2023. Devices from the category “networking and control” are the most widespread – and they mainly include smart speakers1.

The market is growing rapidly and manufacturers are responding with countless new products. Anyone wanting to know what the future will bring in the field of the smart home and entertainment electronics and which trends will shape 2019 had the chance to learn more at CES (Consumer Electronic Show) in Las Vegas. The world’s largest tech show was staged at the beginning of this year and was dominated by topics such as smart speakers, convenience and well-being. The American neologisms on the CES website boasted grandiosely: “New Habit: Smart Speakers & A Voice-Activated Life” or “Smart Home Applications to Improve Well-Being”.

We’ll deal with the two new subject areas in various blog posts. The focus of this post is on “New Habit: Smart Speakers & A Voice-Activated Life.”

Voice-activated life

2019 will be the year Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant display their full presence in the private and public sphere. Whether in the smart home, car, hotels or business: Thanks to digital assistants, smart living of the future will be controlled by voice and all smart devices can be activated by voice.

A recent analysis by the consulting firm Deloitte comes to the conclusion that around 250 million smart speakers are already being used. So it comes as no surprise that smart speakers with an integrated personal assistant such as Alexa, Siri or Google will also experience a real boom in 2019 and will generate revenue put at around seven billion U.S. dollars.

More than 50 million Americans already own a voice-activated device, and the German IT association estimates that every one-in-eight Germans uses a digital voice assistant – a figure that is growing.
“In the coming years, it will be commonplace for us to operate more and more devices with our voice,” is the opinion of Christopher Meinecke from Bitkom2. According to Amazon, millions of smart devices were already connected to Alexa at the end of 2018. In addition, more than 28,000 smart home devices from 4,500 different brands are already compatible with Alexa – an increase of 600% over 20173.

In bed with Alexa

An interesting example is voice control in one of the most private places in the home – the bedroom. Reservations associated with that will soon be a thing of the past, since the Swedish luxury bed manufacturer DUX announced its partnership with Amazon’s Alexa at CES, the aim of which is to create a completely new sleep experience: a luxury bed with Alexa integrated. The smart audio module (as shown below) is integrated directly in the frame and sleeping customers can communicate as usual with Alexa and control connected devices such as lamps and smart blinds. The beds come in the sizes Queen, King and California King. The price for the King model is a princely 4,950 dollars, but for people who want to go to bed with Alexa, price will tend to be a minor consideration.
The ultimate DUX beds with Alexa built in will then be available in May 2019. And here’s how the bed manufacturer pictures the future of the smart bedroom.

Now, DUX is more than a bed. Because everything with the Swedish luxury label revolves around personal well-being. For instance, DUX beds are intended to make it quicker and easier for you to reach the deep sleep stage, in which the body and immune system can recover and regenerate. That’s ensured by the DUX High Performance Sleep System – and so it certainly makes sense to combine well-being and healthy sleep with Alexa so as to achieve an ideal blend of smart comfort and smart well-being.

The DUX bed becomes the central control unit and, thanks to Alexa, all the smart devices in the bedroom can be activated by voice.

DUX beds can be found in many prestigious hotels worldwide4. That puts the announcement by Amazon to install Echo devices in more than 4,000 hotel rooms as part of the partnership with Marriott Hotels in a completely different context. The stay for hotel guests is to be made even smarter and so more as convenient thanks to Alexa.

“Alexa, I want to go to the spa”

The smart Amazon speaker will also become a feature of the hotel room in the shape of „Alexa for Hospitality“5. Marriott intends to deploy the “e-employee” pretty soon. Whether calling room service, booking a table for a business lunch or simply playing your favorite music – Alexa will act as an all-round talent at the hotel and probably do away with the traditional information folder for good.

Amazon calls the new service Alexa for Hospitality and Marriott is already showing a keen interest in it. Apart from being able to call up the usual information about the hotel with Alexa, guests can use it to control the lighting, air-conditioning and TV, as well as to log on directly to Amazon Music, Spotify or Audible with their personal profile6.

Alexa for Hospitality transfers guests’ requests for hospitality services to the right team immediately and so enables rapid service. If Alexa proves to be a success in its future role as hotel butler, then it’s only a matter of time before other hotel chains also integrate this service and other establishments follow suit.

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