Why Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Matter in voicefirst ecosystems

Any discussion about voice and digital ecosystems is incomplete without discussing augmented reality, virtual reality and holograms. Voice is a great input and output mechanism on its own, but really comes into its own with synergies with other input and output devices and mechanisms.

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Are Here: IMAX VR

Here is an example of voice and vr working together – last week I tried out some games at the ScotiaBank Theatre IMAX:

Image the same devices, in an office setting, enabled by voice. What you get is (but for business):

It does also highlight, another interesting question – what should be routed where? When should visuals be routed to mobile screen or TVs or AR sets. What should happen when no visual device is available?

Voice without Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality: Screen Size Zero

While the problem may seem new, it is not – developers and designers already manage for devices and screen resolutions/sizes. There is just a new screen size – size 0.

Voice Wars: Walmart vs Amazon battle for V-Commerce


Reflecting how threatened the competitors from Amazon’s gains in v-commerce, Google and Walmart have partnered together to fight back.Walmart will now be powering the Google Home’s Grocery and Home shopping experiences.

Google evolving it’s v-commerce ecosystem to counter Amazon

This comes on the heels of Apple announcing that it would henceforth use Google to power Siri. It makes sense – the Google’s voice solutions have heavily relied on its dominance in search – it’s knowledge of where and how to find and serve useful data. Google competitive advantages were:

  1. Excellent reach thanks to integration with Android and iOS devices
  2. Access and ability to process large amount of data into servable content

With the addition of Walmart as a source, Google has added a transactional dimension to it’s ecosystem. In addition, Google has also been actively soliciting large service corporations and partnering with them to build skills for its ecosystem.

Is this enough to take on Amazon’s v-commerce operations?

It depends – is Google’s voice ecosystem a competitive offering – certainly seems so on paper. But keep in mind that Google’s mobile reach is offset with the penetration into the US market Alexa has made through the Echo and now the Echo Dot. Similarly, Amazon’s delivery service, while having its flaws, is by far one of the most advanced logistics solutions. Finally, Amazon has already integrated product sales into Alexa and can leverage it’s existing suppliers.

At the end of the day, there is space for more than one player. Customers will be won or lost based on the ability to deliver as complete an experience through their ecosystem as possible. For now, Amazon is still in the lead.

AI, VR, Voice Search and DA News From China and India

voice search china india
IoT, Digitial Assistants, VR and voice search in China and India

Continuing our watch of developments within voice search and digital ecosystems, Neil Shen from Sequoia Capital China says the search for the next big platform will be the focus for 2018.

The use of the term “platform” is interesting – here he is talking about “post-smartphone” technologies, including voice search, digital assistants, IoT and VR. As discussed previously, these solutions will stack on a layer of data, accessed via AI, to provide the best services possible. And in many cases these technologies are expected to work together to deliver a solution rather than be individual platforms.

Amazon expands in India

In other international news, the Amazon Echo started shipping to India. Driven by a growing middle-class ready for new technologies and almost non-existent local competition (if you know of an company from the sub-continent working in the IoT, voice or digital assistant fields, we would love to feature them), Amazon has been heavily investing in the Indian market. As compared to news from China – which often is from competitors – this is a play to forward settle (to use a term from Civilization) the Indian market. Amazon has also expanded the skill kit and services offer to India, no doubt with approaches to large India media brands to integrate the technology.

Google your play?

Does Voice spell trouble for retailers and brands? – Follow-up

Shaun Varga shared his point of view on Mark’s article which came out earlier in the month – it is an ongoing conversation – how will voice search affect retailers and what can retailers do about it:

The answer to Mark Ritson’s voice search problems can be found in the pub

While Mark’s concerns are genuine, focusing on clear value proposition and it’s messaging, involvement level and personalization will have a role to play into how the dynamics of digital assistants and voice search will shape retail.


Does Voice spell trouble for retailers and brands?

Came across this great article search –

Mark Ritson: Voice search spells trouble for both brands and retailers

Mark is spot on:

  1. the vast majority of the brands we buy in our lifetime qualify as low-involvement purchases
  2. add the dangerous, disruptive ingredient of voice search and things change

Having said this, how things change depends on what actions retailers take today to shape their tomorrow. Another industry that faced similar challenges was the news publishing industry. It bought the tech companies coolaid, it opened it’s bread and butter – it’s content – to the likes of Google. It turned from a business monetized through subscriptions to one running on ads. And now it is bleeding to a slow death.

Retailers face a choice – the choice of how to embrace voice technology. Retailers have to understand what brings users to their store – and enhance the experience customers want with voice technology. Retailers have one advantage over the likes of Amazon and Google. They have personalized, localized, and targeted shopping data.

While it is not an easy road, it is an exciting one – one that will bring new players, products and strategies and reshape the industry.

Voice Wars: Siri now uses Google instead of Bing

#voicesearch #UX #voiceUX #searchengines

The digital assistant war keeps heating up. In the last week of September Apple moved from Bing to Google as it’s default search engine for Siri. In a statement to TechCrunch Apple stated “Switching to Google as the web search provider for Siri, Search within iOS and Spotlight on Mac will allow these services to have a consistent web search experience with the default in Safari.” Apple in China will continue to rely on Baidu.

User Experience Drives Voice War

With user experience such a critical in the adoption of voice and voice enabled services, the move is not unexpected. After all, in the words of ex-Expedia, now Uber CEO Dara, “And if they ask a question, and you have a bad answer, first time maybe they will be okay with it, third time this is a complete waste of time I am going away.” Apple does not have its own search engine and its market share allows it to shop for the best solution. In line with this thinking, Bing, remains the default search engine for images and Youtube for videos.

On the other end are Alexa and Cortana, both powered by Bing and are looking to integrate. While Cortana has yet to find its stride, Alexa has been gained significant market share through the adoption of Echo and Echo Dot. It also powers easy to use voice shopping through Amazon – a significant easier and more tangible path to revenue than figuring out how to push ads to consumer on voice.

Changing your Default Digital Assistant or Search Engine

While it is early days, the interoperability and customization offered by each player means that consumer can still use alternate search engines with their digital assistants.  This is market driven – as a provider, you want your solution available on as many platforms as possible. They just won’t come installed by default and will require a bit of effort from the customer.