Is voice control a disruptive technology or an everyday essential? Voice control is quickly becoming a wide-spread technology, available in everything from your phone to your car’s navigation system. On March 6, the ProSource Summit in Orlando brought together speech technology experts for a highly engaging discussion panel, focusing on topics such as ‘using voice to accomplish daily tasks’ as well as ‘making voice technology a standard instead of a luxury’. The panel included:
- Martin Plaehn, CEO of Control4
- Alex Capecelatro, CEO of Josh.ai
- Dan Pye, Director, Corporate Technology Group at Harman
- Dan Quigley, Principal Technology Product Manager at Alexa
Everyone on the panel validated that voice control is becoming an inevitable standard that is revolutionizing the home automation industry and how people live in general. Until recently, controlling your connected home was only possible from proprietary touch panels, mobile device apps, or keypads. Now, by being able to speak naturally to your smart home, nearly anyone can easily interact with and control the technology associated with it. Artificial intelligence and machine learning take it a step further with the capability to learn and predict your behavior to automatically create scenes for you based on your daily patterns.
New technology is always an exciting thing, but it takes a lot for new technology to actually be adopted and become a standard. Specifically for the custom channel, integrators have different requirements for the products they install compared to most mass-market offerings. With all the magic of hands free control, what did the panel identify as the things integrators care about the most?
People feel comfortable with what they are already using. Therefore, seamlessly integrating with a large ecosystem is a major driving factor for both an integrator and end-user. Requiring a client to learn all new technology is not ideal. Deep integration is essential in avoiding a barrier to entry with dealers that highly value the ability work with their existing offering, including not only function specific systems such as Lutron and Autonomic, but also general control systems such as Crestron and Control4.
2. Privacy + Security
One concern that comes up, particularly with always-listening microphones, is privacy. Is Alexa always listening and recording our data? For example, police in Arkansas are pressuring Amazon to turn over data records for a murder case in which the victim had an Amazon Echo in his home.
The ProSource panel was effective in righting the misconception that voice interfaces are always listening to everything. These products, including Amazon’s Echo and Google Home, need to be “prompted” to start conversation — whether through using a wake word (such as Alexa) or requiring a push-to-talk feature (such as Siri). Security experts are helping to ensure a reliable and safe infrastructure.
3. Manufacturer Tech Support
Tech support is a critical component of today’s connected home, especially when it comes to new and innovative technology. Streamlining that support, for both the integrator and end-client, is the first step in creating lifelong relationships with clients. Making installers’ jobs painless is imperative by delivering reliable, high-quality, instant help. Manufactures have also been effective in building out powerful dealer tools, so the installation process is really quick and simple.
4. Profit Margin
By eliminating expensive black boxes and constant truck rolls, there is tremendous opportunity for higher dealer profit margins. Progressive software allows simple set-up with plug and play control systems that require no custom programming or construction — resulting in less overhead for higher margins.
5. Recurring Monthly Revenue (RMR)
With ongoing manufacturer support plans and extensive warranties, integrators can charge their customers a monthly service fee — with little overhead expense. Customers are happy knowing things are taken care of proactively while integrators can manage the systems remotely, performing automatic firmware updates and support to collect monthly revenue.
This article was written by Bridget, who is part of the business development team focusing on integrator relations and marketing. Originally from Massachusetts, she worked at Savant for many years before moving to Denver to work for a large integrator, Xssentials. Outside of work Bridget likes to hike, travel, and check out new restaurants.