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Read this: "Hey Media Show, tell me about smart speakers"

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"Hey Media Show, tell me about smart spe…



BBC sounds music Radio podcasts hello, I'm madhumita, murgia.

Usually the Financial Times European technology corresponding this week.

I'm here to look at the rise of so-called smart speakers Alexa how many teaspoons in a tablespoon that you can talk to to access the internet using your voice alone volume up and play the radio set timers for you and generally help you out, but have we really thought through the consequences of letting the big tech companies into our homes in such an intimate fashion right will be careful what you are saying to Alexa Amazon boys are reportedly eavesdropping meaning that its workers can listen to what you say the Guardian reported that third-party contractors, but heard people having sex and discussing private medical information.

Google are smart speakers surveillance tools of a new dystopian capitalist world order big questions, then he is co-founder of vixen labs a company that has worked with the likes of Diageo and Lego Emma kendrew is AI and intelligent automation lead at the Consulting company and Michael Bay beach and is the executive editor of the BBC voice and AI department will let me ask.

Have you all got smart speakers? Yes definitely have the job description is not you'll be quite what I find you think it's obviously we not obviously we've got a number of them and I've got a 6-year old and has been really interesting because I feel like we're on the dawn of a slightly different and to see him talking to them and some of the characteristics and differences between the family and guests will use.

Lots of things about whether timers getting the radio getting the BBC listening to music that thing Emma the same kind of thing so listen to radio setting alarm recipes in the kitchen when you need to be hands-free, I think the point you made about the generational differences really interesting.

We just got voice activated television box and to me and my partner is completely revelatory the idea that you could search for a TV show using voice but for the kids in the house.

It was just absolutely natural they've completely expect straight away, so I do think the generational differences are quite interesting and pepper throughout the office and at home and without a smart speaker for in a home on holiday or anything like that to be honest.

What did you miss most?

Being able to shout out and ask how long is my travel time going to be from point a to point B what time is it that low-level use and is just making my life easier than having to reach for my phone.

I didn't realise you could maybe before phone came along we couldn't imagine that we will walk around the street.

You know I think it's a bit like that.

It's one of those things at once you get lots of habit you require you know that but you know it's something that you can hold onto so let's let's let's start with the with the real basics Emma I'm going to come to you and we've got to the speakers on the table right in front of us, so who's make the smart speakers? Who are the market leaders in this area that we will know so primarily the Amazon Alexa echo and Google

Google home at two of the most popular ones and sales of those has absolutely exploded over the last couple of years and if we think how how does the Amazon Echo only came to market 5 years ago.

We now estimate that it's in one in 8 households in the UK have at least at least one of the smart speakers must have more than one in the US one in five adults has a smart speaker as these are produced by the likes of Google and Amazon are household names and household devices, also relatively cheap bits of kit and you know the cheapest models can be picked up for around £20.

Can we assume that the manufacturers are making very slim profit margins, but I think there is a drive for adoption the more that people are using this technology the better the technology will become so the thing about Voice is that the more.

Audio clips and the more accurate the you have the better it's able to understand language accent dialect and so there is a drive to get more more of these speakers out there there a technology that the big tech firms are betting on.

I think that they think this will become a primary means of interaction with internet services which is everything alright all the content that we have so what do we think is really in it for the for these companies work.

They do with that if they win voice I think each other companies is probably going to their core business model and saying we do what we do Google is you know has a stated mission of organising the world's information.

So they're trying to do that Amazon retail giant a lot of it Focuses on you not being able to purchase things with minimum, but I think as they develop technologies the other users can have come into it and then they can have got a commission which is commercially driven, but then also the technology it's

Explored by a system of developers you know ok.

Yes, they're selling these houses because then we can look at a thing if we can personify it you can sit in a shout if we can understand that we know where it is in terms of his trust issue, but actually just mentioned before it's the interfacing with the entirety of the digital world with the internet and I think what we're going to see you next year in the year after the voice is just going to become seen as the integrated it's going to be literally in the walls about homes so the price point of smart speakers at some point is just a way of getting into people's home.

We start because of its related to it.

Smart speaker a waving it around very like there's nothing like ginger.

I'm just a microphone OK Google don't take me is not much in it in terms of you know really.

This is a Cloud technology ok, so these AI assistants are living in the cloud and they can be accessed and lots of places and I think this is part of the story of the internet brings with it the same as the rise of social media in either of them.

Are the same possibilities, but you know this is the next Frontier in the access to the internet via a kind of a human-like technology called an AI assistant show so one of the areas that we thought would be really important for us to try with your children so we can do this Alexa open CBeebies

Would you like a game a story or a song let's have a Song in My Playlist for you parents can know that their child is talking to something that is shaped by a public broadcaster with our editorial.

So that really was all logic in creating a dance party.

Get ready to roar like the money that the BBC's rating from licence fee payers the television has being sent but you want these kind of fun games go on the speakers for the BBC we know we have a chart of Duty to innovate and always have been you know I mean television was not always think and the BBC was understanding.

How are we going to use that and what should be the right used for that stop the commercial sector is thinking about the power of these technologies and how exactly is good to operate that you know we are very much.

In the heart of public service in a way that is well.

If people are using it to listen to the radio.

Just get the news and so forth and we should be giving them what they already paid for in the best possible way where the experimental stage and then we're not spending huge amounts on the staff at the moment.

My team is around 12 is the Producers working on things like kids and stuff coming soon and I was like news and entertainment but I say if you had it all that between engineering and producers in the region of around 100 out of the 18000 will it work here? So it's that sort of level last year.

I think we served 18 million Newbury things actually that a lowest lot more than that and about 265 million live which means radio streams podcast and so forth we have.

Which is without prejudice you know we'll distributed to anyone who has advised those times we have to make sure that those are satisfied in every case because we are you know spending on the public's money to make sure that we are getting the right experience for you know for our public purposes as well as working with publishers advertisers and basically.

I'm can you give us a sense of how they using it yeah absolutely so I think you've got the ability to purchase products directly so for example Domino's did example where you can set up your preferences from within your Alexa account of your favourite pizza all the toppings that you like your payment details securely and then you ask for a pizza and a rising all 20 minutes later.

If you go you've got kind of things like PR drops as well.

So night did a huge thing.

Recently where they kind of ability this prerelease of a certain Nike sneaker that came out and buy a voice experience via voice interaction able to actually pre-order it.

I'll get it ahead of time.

You've got the ability to again purchase of quite simple elements Like a Virgin Trains open Virgin Trains where are you leaving from London St Pancras to wear on your phone so you having to do a Google search and find it and you can just say right.

I'm leaving tomorrow.

I want to go from London to York

Let's go and be able to get that information probably quicker than going through using your phone and then also there is the ability obviously to purchase at the end as well, and I think poaching that through a more commercial ecosystem is not necessarily something that is being done hugely by consumers at the moment.

Tell us about that people actually buying moment.

I think really at the moment that the main thing is about brand awareness and brand sentiment and it's about deepening the relationship between the consumer and brand or service provider and as in the case of BBC actually providing another form of access and a different experience for the audience people are letting into their own home 3D Smart speakers, and then you know you don't want to have them when you're trying to cook your dinner that said there are discussions emerging about more.

Of a voice channels so for example CNBC is a good example.

They have Flash briefings which is available on the smart speakers and they recently announced.

They would have sponsorship packages for those prefix will be sponsored by one of their partners the Amazon are in discussions about more direct advertising and product placement through the smart speaker but again we haven't seen that manifests itself yet, and I do you think that's because it needs to be designed into the voice interaction into the conversation such a way that it has value on people appreciate it rather than finding commercial radio for example of the advert can actually hinder The Listening experience and that's really the risk with this you put too much around it and some people actually don't use it so now seems like maybe a good time to explore how the manufacturer.

So the Tech companies might be monetizing as you said this very personal conversations that they have in our homes and we did invite both Google and Amazon to come on the show that they find so let's let's go back to you.

Jen what's to stop somebody like Google or Amazon or wherever offering brands and companies the ability to buy answers to common questions that we might ask answer to give me an example.

You might ask Google for help making a birthday cake for example and it reads you a recipe that includes the particular brand of chocolate say or even asking for advice on a RAV4 help condition and you get an answer sponsored by a big pharmaceutical company.

I don't think a monetization of voice search is necessarily an immediate play owing to the trust issues for consumers when you are using a particularly a screenless device often only served up one or two potential answers.

Jeopardise adding in another level of concern on the consumer side of things right now.

I agree and I think it's absolutely possible and it Could Happen new product placement within discussions with a smart speaker is absolutely something that could happen and have been disgusting in various forums, but I think it would potentially compromise a looking for because they don't necessarily want to be hearing that and I think consumers are very good with all very good at basing with our feet or voices and I think probably be switched off from that because like you said actually the answers you can get from a voice interaction or relatively limited.

You've got to have quite specific questions to get back the information that you're looking for it.

So when you're searching on the internet and searching on the website and you can see all of the different options that might be available to you so I agree.

I don't see it necessarily moving quickly.

That Direction let me read you a new story the BBC Rand last year Amazon says that does not eavesdrop on customers conversations to Target Advertising out them after its head patented voice nothing technology the patent describes listening to conversations and building a profile of customers of likes and dislikes report speculated that Amazon would be the technology in its voice activated speakers, but Amazon said I did not listen to customers conversations to Target Advertising at them.

So so one scenario would be that you're sitting at home chatting friend about something like a recent golf holiday and you describe how you've lost your Potter the smart speaker is listening in and it works out that you need a new golf club, so then you start getting advertising for that's the theoretical technology because of course Amazon felt that it would never use that but they have still patented it.

I think First We Found

Research that most users only using it for quite straightforward functions and that's because of trust issues that they don't necessarily want to interrupt a smart speaker for anything that they see is more secure or higher value financial transaction, so I think first of all there is this trust issue that needs to be overcome for people to want to adopt and use smart speakers more.

I think if you started evening things to do a smart speaker that you felt were an invasion of your privacy or an incorrect or unauthorised use of your data.

You would also switch off from that you would you would not a day now.

I think again we can use the comparison or the internet and smartphones as to how the technology has evolved many others using platforms will find more and more targeted advertisements that may become from things.

We do you know you do a search the search engine and all of a sudden he started getting quite targeted advertisements about a particular piece of clothing.

A particular brand or product that's something that brings a doing online on the internet and do I use of online platforms it's completely conceivable that they could do the same thing do the voice interaction so I think it's possible I again I don't see it.

Just from the point of view and certainly in the near term because I just don't think it's something that users would try sometimes we talk about voice we bring up subjects Miami at listening which I agree.

I think is very far off if ever will be done exactly it will just be a type of Betrayal that consumers would rather from but in terms of you know I ask a question it bisects the information it continues to serve me advertising or results following on from that request and that's just a bigger issue with the teacher.

Talk about voice like it the whole of the birth of a new way of the Internet it's the internet and I think we forget this and I

I agree that I have a problem with that that's not voice Emma are concerns about the control that the Tech companies have a voice technology are they are they genuine ones do you think because I'm thinking earlier this year the commercial radio sector here in the UK wrote to the government to make the point that although they have free access to smart speakers at the moment.

It might might need legislation to ensure that continues to remain the case and in the future where we have these emerging technologies and voice is a really good example with big tech companies own the attraction with the customer with the audience, but I think that's just part and parcel of how this technology is available any brand who is interacting with the speakers that can I have the price of maintaining that access at the moment.

I mean it's not just about the company source of the nature of this technology like Alexa is conceived as this kind of anthropomorphic.

It's like you have a relationship and that is the nature of talking.

You don't talk to abstract Browns you took two things that can talk I can talk back and so I think we'll be coming because I think this is potentially a really big issue coming up you know if you for example.

There is a possibility that you talked to a large corporate control urination everything but you know that's all we have to be mindful of like you know who you talking to who owns that relationship.

What is driving that relationship is it commercially driven? Is it going for public service? When is that appropriate? When is it not appropriate dose of the things that as a society? It's something that we should be start of your where everything some of the people have about being listened to our entirely Justified because a what we say is being recorded and processed outside of that device and secondly in Somerset

Chances of being listened to by human engineers and human contractors are often not even employed by these companies so all the you know we could be talking or typing it in the case of there is sometimes a human on the other side was listening to what we said the research.

We did showed that people you know twenty-five 27% of people won't use smart speaker for a transaction because they are worried about their security and the potential for hacking and technology really grow very quickly over the last few years and in many ways of regulations and actually as customers and we will just starting to catch up with some of the implications of that.

I think that we are all becoming much more about the value of information about as the value of your personal data and how it's been used and whether or not were comfortable with that and where they were comfortable with what we get in return for sharing.

And whether or not companies are looking after that data as well as we would like them too.

So this is really rising up the agenda.

I think it's great that is becoming a topic of public debate more more people become very familiar with some of the US to talk about it more and in many ways.

I think the growth of smart smart speakers and which channel is really amazing even further in terms of profile up the agenda of public debate which is really important for regulation inevitable then.

Do you think so and I just hope that we get this right and we look at regulation that we educate around privacy because I meant you can do to limit how your data is used how it is collected so and so forth but unless people are told and empowered to make those decisions it a mute point and I hope that comes like I said before there is this tipping?

Convenience actually we just go to know what it's just so helpful to have in the home or to have your hands smart Smartphone that actually we get the right now to McColls point of trust issues that limited adoption and it's only really want and suddenly I can say this from my perspective.

It's once you feel assured that your money in this particular case is safe and then it's become become widespread enough that you can trust it this works and it is so convenient but I'm comfortable start adopting it and I think it's the same with voice and smart videos when was invented wasn't here that would be used for there be a space for impartial news for a couple.

I was important that we have developed that and I think here to you know we want to make sure that when you need an article on that can be amazing but they can also raise issues that we have to engage with I want to end just by looking at how you think this technology is going to change and evolve are smart speakers basically just done at the moment.

I think we are very much.

Just feeling out the use cases at the moment if we look at the rapidity of the way that they are being updated change the use cases like the estate of in car exploded 2 degree out of nowhere pretty much all decent new no decent make car brands in the US now have their own inherit the distance in them.

I think the there always that we're going to use it that we haven't even imagined yet ub82 service information shop and purchase.

Is going to increase hugely already seen that in the US by massive amount at the moment.

She think the technology behind at the idea of an AI or a voice-based assistant is going to become much more common in the workplace as well as in our homes.

I think we're gonna do it use it for much more than just texting or receiving content in our measuring and personalize.

I think it's going to be part of our everyday working life as well and smart speakers themselves, I could see a time when they met and deep sleep because the voice based interaction is actually embedded within the Fabric of our homes or offices and how we work in the same way that you know that one time we didn't have a laptop everyday.

Didn't have a smartphone and every pocket and so I've actually the smart speakers and cells becoming obsolete.

I think this is kind of proper idea right now right AI is going to change everything and I think.

This is what he looks like for that media attention economy, you know it's a way of interacting with information entertainment itself off and I think it's likely to grow to apply to become a very major point of access to information entertainment and so forth and many other things you know it was supposed to be how you book a taxi to let you know I think there's a lot of steak and I think that we as a country as a media industry in the UK could actually be world leaders here.

You know as we have been another party.

No part of the media because we do know what we doing it would trust us but we have to make sure we get this right.

So this is the right thing to engage with right now if you're interested in the health of you know press or in an open society or public Media all that stuff like you should be really aware of well.

That's all we got time for today.

Thanks to all my guests John Heap

H&M McAndrew the media show will be back same time next week.


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