Voice AI and edge smart devices
Sep 27, 2022

How New Edge Voice AI Makes Smart Devices More Accurate

In the world of smart devices and voice AI, smart home devices is one of the earliest industries to adopt voice. In fact, voice assistants are very well established in the industry with devices of major brands integrated with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple HomeKit. 

While these devices have had tremendous success initially, they have limitations that have caused many consumers to hit the pause button. Some reports (Source: Bloomberg) have shown consumers growing frustrated with devices like Amazon’s Echo smart speaker as they’ve had difficulty with the conversational limitations of the voice assistant, among other issues.

These early challenges have created roadblocks for smart device manufacturers hoping to enter the voice-first era. Recent advances in voice AI technology and the advent of edge connectivity solutions are creating new opportunities for smart device manufacturers. Here are the topics we’ll cover to help understand the past, present, and future of voice-enabled smart devices:

Early challenges with voice AI and smart devices

Challenges with cloud-only voice AI solutions have created roadblocks for smart device manufacturers. Since processing on the cloud takes longer than on device, consumers experienced slower response times and frustration with the voice interface.

Also, many big tech companies offer a cloud-only solution, which is free of cost so they can expand their market share and collect user data, and this has raised consumer concerns about privacy. Some smaller vendors provide embedded solutions but only offer a limited command functionality that provides an unsatisfying voice experience. What has been missing from the market is an embedded solution with conversational natural language understanding (NLU). Today, newer solutions such as SoundHound Edge+Cloud are offering this capability. 

Privacy concerns shown from market research

Edge advancements open up new opportunities

While cloud connectivity may have launched the voice-first era through smart speakers, the next opportunity for growth in voice assistants is on the edge. For device manufacturers, edge connectivity solutions solve many problems. The processing and storing of data happens locally, giving users maximum privacy and control over their data. The data never travels to the cloud, resulting in faster responses from the device. Both solutions can be customized to specific domains and languages.

Voice assistants on the edge offer a wide-range of benefits and allow brands to do more with less, including:

  • Ease of development for engineering teams
  • Lower CPU (Central Processing Unit) requirements  
  • Always-on reliability without reliance on a cloud connection
  • Guarantee of privacy
  • Faster response times
  • Opportunity for personalization
  • Freedom from recurring cloud connection costs
  • Faster time to market

What is Edge+Cloud™?

Edge+Cloud™ is a suite of connectivity solutions that gives brands and users the best of both worlds—edge processing power with and without cloud connectivity. This solution is revolutionizing the smart device industry by offering faster processing, greater accuracy, and privacy. From EdgeLite to more NLU in the Edge solution and the options of cloud connectivity, manufacturers can choose the power, footprint and cloud connection that best meets their product needs and the desires of their customers. 

Unique Edge+Cloud technology offers an always-on, conversational intelligence solution that works even when the cloud is not available.

Find out more about all the ways voice assistants on the edge are creating greater value and opening up possibilities for smart device manufacturers in our white paper: “Discovering the Possibilities of Voice Assistants on the Edge.”

Here are 4 major ways that Edge+Cloud is transforming the smart device industry: 

  1. Speed and accuracy
  2. Lower manufacturing costs
  3. Greater personalization with privacy built-in
  4. Frictionless, convenient product interfaces

1. Speed and accuracy with voice assistants on the edge

Speed and accuracy are essential for all voice assistants, regardless of connectivity. In the past, embedded voice assistants were limited to simple command and control functions. If the user did not utter the right phrase, the voice interface simply didn’t work, or worse, proceeded to begin an operation not intended by the user. Limited capabilities and robotic sounding responses were key reasons manufacturers resisted adopting voice interfaces. 

Today, advances in voice AI and chip technology have solved the challenges of legacy embedded voice AI by putting more NLU directly onto the device. Now, embedded voice AI solutions with NLU technology on-device can accept queries using a range of phrases and respond naturally.

Edge connectivity is faster because processing is done right on the device, rather than having to wait while information travels large distances to the cloud. This also improves network bandwidth.   

2. Lower manufacturing costs

Voice assistants can require a sizable investment in both time and money. While the end result, ROI, and customer satisfaction are well worth the investment, some embedded solutions have a large footprint that can take additional space in the device and increase the manufacturing costs of the device.

EdgeLite from SoundHound is a small footprint embedded solution that takes less space and therefore reduces manufacturing costs.

3. Personalization with privacy

Personalization is a huge benefit of voice AI technology for brands looking to differentiate their products from a burgeoning market of smart devices. While some users can be wary about personalization due to the early practices of voice assistants, according to Accenture, 83% of consumers are willing to share their data if it means a more personalized experience. 

When companies have control over their data and users opt-in to data collection, a door of personalization opportunities opens. Voice assistants can store payment information for quicker transactions in the future, make recommendations based on previous commands, and take note of preferences. These personalized queries make customers feel heard and recognized while providing an exceptional experience. 

4. Simpler, more enjoyable interactions with everyday products

Edge and  EdgeLite voice assistants are bringing products to life with improved functionality that is revolutionizing the way users interact with technology. Instead of touching everything, pushing buttons, and scrolling through menus, consumers can control the world around them with their voices, whether they are operating an elevator, wearing a hearable, turning on the coffee maker at home, or ordering at a drive-thru. 

For smart home technology with edge voice assistants, users can say queries like:

  • “Turn on the sprinklers in the backyard at 9 am.” 
  • “Preheat the upper oven to 350℉, turn off the lower oven, and set a timer for 20 minutes.”
  • “Wash this load with fabric softener, in cold water, on delicate, and add an extra rinse.” 

Different types of edge devices

various smart devices in different locations
Smart devices can range from lighting and electrical to HVAC controls and safety and security devices.

Qualcomm and VIZIO invest in the edge

When discussing the value of adding edge voice AI to its products, Qualcomm’s VP of Product Management, Ziad Asghar, notes that it’s really important to be able to process data where it is created.

 “If you look at a smartphone, it has all of that information as to what the user is saying. Then, you have the queries that are essentially being absorbed by the microphone on the device. It makes sense to keep that data there for various reasons.  

“With edge, you can listen in at all times with extremely low power consumption. You can even have the device further away from you, and you’d be able to listen in to it and process that information. What we have done is created a capability on the Snapdragon that allows you to be able to do the processing at less than a milliampere of current.”

VIZIO (NYSE: VZIO), the #1 American-based TV brand, partnered with SoundHound to voice-enable a majority of VIZIO’s TVs and collaborate on interactive experiences. Following the successful rollout of a voice-enabled VIZIO remote and app in Spring of 2021, VIZIO has seen daily voice queries double every quarter.  

The conversational interface allows users to ask questions such as:

  • “Show me trending TV shows”
  • “Launch Netflix”
  • “Show me animated family movies”
  • “Turn down the volume”
  • “Show me movies on WatchFree+”

Leading smart device manufacturers are seeing the advantages of using voice AI edge technology to deliver better speed and accuracy and lower manufacturing costs. When combined with a more engaging and exciting experience for consumers—one that maintains their privacy—we see many other manufacturers adding voice AI to their smart devices.

For more technical details about SoundHound’s Edge , see the SoundHound Edge and Cloud for smart devices product brief

At SoundHound, we have all the tools and expertise needed to create custom voice assistants and a consistent brand voice. Explore SoundHound’s independent voice AI platform at SoundHound.com or speak with an expert or request a demo below.

Speak with an expert Request a demo

Arvind Rangarajan is a product marketer with a passion for creating and conveying great, targeted product messaging. When he is not working, he loves to take landscape photos, hike, and play with his dog.

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