Gone are the days when business people used only PDAs (which are obsolete) and personal assistants to do small things like knowing time, setting alarms, making shopping list, etc.
The smartphones are able to do the same in the form of text based apps or some alarms features are in built in any phones, but the new trend seems to the Wireless Smart Devices which connect to other devices at home and control them.This is also one of the technologies of IoT or Internet of Things.
These are some smart wireless speakers which are connected with WiFi and it is able to sync itself with the online media to get information. Lets look at the main guys who are creating a market for this:
Amazon came up with Echo/Alexa (Alexa is its name supposedly), which connects and controls using the voice commands given to it. Yup, its voice command capable and can be placed anywhere in a room and it can do its job.
Amazon Echo also is AI and uses its Artificial Intelligence to gather information and provide answers to the questions asked.. Its been in the market for quite a year and so the developers have been adding capabilities like order you Domino’s, play Spotify playlists, or get things from Amazon Prime, also trying to match up with its partners like Uber for scheduling a pick up from home.
Amazon has been making few new tweaks into its Echo and is creating similar products to flood the market and stay ahead.
Google recently entered the market for voice command assistant in the form Google Home- its wireless Speakers. Its clear, crisp in audibility and had all the information that it needs getting from Google. Also the speakers are AI capable and it does provide some witty and convincing answers to questions asked..
It is priced a bit cheaper than Echo and is already creating waves of Echo in the market.. HeHe…
Also from the time Echo hit the market, the market is abuzz with some not so famous alternatives to Echo and some of them seem to do some basic assistance work.
CastleHub is basically a huge speaker with CPU functionalities, having 30GB hard disk space and it runs on CastleOS. The OS is concentrated on SmartHome connecting devices. The CastleHub can be used to run apps like NetFlix, Spotify,etc and it works on Windows 10 and on top of that , the Xbox Kinect can be connected to it and can be used all around the house for some pretty good entertainment.
Its pricing is higher than Echo and Google Home, since its features are more of a laptop without a display 😛
Mycroft is small, sleak, does only few and does not want to compete the big players in terms of features but it does squash them out in terms of hardware. It is developed on Arduino and Rasberry Pi single board computers which i think is pretty cool. Since lot of developers are there in both of these hardware, the amount of enhancement it can get in terms of OpenSource and DIY is going to be huge.
Amazon too offers secondary option to its Echo in terms of Amazon Nano and Amazon Dot.
Sure it does seem like the space for home assistant is getting crowded soon by products from big players to Kickstarter crowd funded ones, it seems to be evolving into more personalized assistant products. Also the development of IoT seems to help in growing this industry.