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Why AI will rule all UIs

Paul Rubens | March 23, 2017
Voice-controlled assistants are proliferating and opening them to third-party app makers is proving to be a key to success — for some assistants more than others.

What will be interesting to see play out is whether having an intelligent assistant, such as Alexa, becomes a selling point for products, or whether an own-brand solution such as Houndify ends up being all that users demand.

On that question, McQuivey says that the answer will depend on the type of product under consideration. For a television, for example, he says that the use case has been established: People talk to their televisions to find programs and to control the television itself. For that reason, consumers are unlikely to care if the voice interface is provided by Alexa, Cortana, Assistant or an own-brand solution.

But for other types of devices McQuivey says that consumers will want interoperability: At the start of a laundry session you might want to ask the washing machine to turn off the central heating, or turn on the oven. In that case, you would want to buy a washing machine that uses the same voice assistant as their heating system or oven. Today that's likely to be Alexa, but in theory Cortana and Assistant could catch up very quickly, says McQuivey.

Of course, Apple is the master of creating an ecosystem of products that interoperate, but Siri can be used only in Apple's closed ecosystem. That means that unless Apple branches out into domestic appliances and other household devices, Siri is unlikely to become an important user interface for the future.

 

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