Smart speakers - listen to the word

"Artificial Intelligence" (AI) is currently a hot topic and has recently been appearing more and more in media reports in connection with the consumer electronics trade fair CES. AI is intended to create the framework for efficient cooperation between man and machine, to solve problems and to make our digital everyday life easier.

Communication between man and machine should be as simple as possible - and what could be less complicated than just talking? What is already known from smartphones through Siri and "Okay Google" is currently being taken to the next level through smart speakers with virtual assistants such as Amazon Echo or Google Home.

Amazon Echo, for example, is a cylindrical all-round WLAN loudspeaker with an integrated digital assistant called ALEXA that can be controlled by voice commands. Alexa plays music, answers questions, provides weather and dust reports, sports results, controls linked devices such as heating and lighting and, if desired, orders products via the user's own Amazon account. As soon as the voice command "Alexa" sounds, microphones record what is then said and forward it to the Amazon server. What is said is evaluated and the answer is returned.

Of course, such digital assistants only offer real added value if they provide relevant and meaningful answers to the questions asked. To do this, the smart loudspeakers have to learn something new - and that only works if they learn as many as possible about the user. To do this, they store information such as language habits, vocabulary used and personal preferences. This is at the expense of the protection of personal data, which is passed on to Amazon, for example, through the use of the loudspeaker. Each user must decide for himself whether he wants to accept this.

It is currently difficult to predict where the future will lead in the use of digital assistants with voice control. They are a field of experimentation and will perhaps replace apps that we use every day today or make the manual entry of search queries on the net superfluous. In any case, they are already making a contribution to changing the way man and machine interact.