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How voice control will make the Internet of Things more human

J.D. Sartain | June 11, 2014
As the Internet of Things expands from the industrial environment to the home, more people will interact with connected devices. Expect the voice commands familiar to entertainment system and smartphone users to become the 'interface' for these smart devices.

In this case, though, the nature of privacy is harder to define. Credit card numbers can be used against their owners with great effect. But when everything you say in a 30-day period - as recorded by a microphone in your home or office, then stored somewhere in the cloud - can create possible abuses if that information is accessed, it's harder to specify all the potential ramifications.

It's important to walk into these situations with eyes wide open, McQuivey says. Otherwise, companies won't incorporate privacy protections up front but, instead, will add them as an afterthought once something horrible has happened, such as someone hacking into a home audio database to see exactly when the teenage daughter is home alone in order to coordinate an assault. Preventing that single scenario would likely be reason enough for buyers to embrace the range of benefits that such technology could promise. "The goal for a home security company should be to provide home monitoring as a companion to home security," McQuivey says.

Humans Want Systems That Seem, Well, Human

Voice control will get a lot of attention, but Lopez says it's only one form of control and communications. As we move toward the future, it's reasonable to assume a diversity of inputs, including keyboards and touchscreens that pay greater attention to gestures and voice.

The array of products coming in the next five years could - as Apple has demonstrated - provide new, creative ways of working with personal devices. "It will be important for planners to develop alternative scenarios for voice control in order to ensure that they're not caught flat-footed, if their focus on voice does not pan out as hoped," Lopez says.

But as Kahn points out, people trust and identify with objects that share human characteristics - including voice. "As future IoT devices become more ubiquitous, they need to become more human."


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