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Show Me, Don't Tell Me

Say you want to order takeout. Imagine a voice that reads out: ‘Here are the top twenty restaurants in your area. Number one …’

That is the current reality of our voice assistants - which is why all the top players are making moves to add screens into the next generation of Alexa, Home, and all the others.

The other issue is that while the number of Alexa apps has risen from 950 last May to over 8,000 today, people just aren't using them. That's because keeping users aware of software is tricky: push notifications on speech-only devices are annoying, and there are no other cues to let people know that "an app for that" is installed on their device.

Integrated screens are going to be a pivotal evolution in our home assistants' wide-scale adoption. I can't wait to see the next generation of home helpers, and hope that they'll be able to show me something, not just tell me.

That’s one reason why companies are seriously considering adding screens to the next generation of home assistants. Speaking to MIT Technology Review, Andrew Ng, chief scientist at Baidu, also points out that, while a 2016 study by Stanford researchers and his own team showed that speech input is three times quicker than typing on mobile devices, “the fastest way for a machine to get information to you is via a screen.”

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