As the giant electronics trade show kicks off in Las Vegas, Amazon’s voice-activated digital assistant has already added personal computers and smart mirrors to its domain. And in a sign of the growing importance of voice-activated software, Google is hoping to make a splash at CES with its rival software.
Amazon’s Alexa is extending its domain to a whole new set of gadgets. Smoke alarm? Check. A $1,300 smart mirror? Check. Personal computers? Check.
In what’s becoming an annual tradition, the CES electronics trade show, being held this week in Las Vegas, has brought a flurry of announcements of new gadgets built to work with the Seattle company’s voice-activated Alexa software.
Also new this year: Some serious competition.
Google is trying to make a splash at the world’s largest electronics trade show, blanketing Las Vegas with advertisements and its share of new gizmos that can be controlled by its Google Assistant. For the first time in several years, Google has planted the flag at CES with a large booth of its own, which GBH Insights research chief Daniel Ives attributes to the growing importance of software that can be used to manage other internet-connected devices.
Ives expects “a big push” from the California search giant at the trade show, he said in a research note. Intelligent speakers, like Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home, are “quickly becoming the core foundation of smart homes,” he said. Analysts say some consumers find it more natural to manipulate smart devices like door locks, lightbulbs and televisions with their voice instead of smartphone apps or dedicated remotes.
The competition to build software people can manage with their voice is one of the hottest topics in consumer technology, drawing, in addition to Amazon and Google, the attention of giants like Apple, Microsoft and Samsung.
Some of those companies have strengths Amazon can’t match. Google’s Assistant can be summoned on Android smartphones, and Siri lives on Apple’s iPhones. Microsoft’s Cortana digital assistant is installed by default on Windows 10 computers.
But Amazon is leading the race to make software that can control other machines.