How does voice-activation work?
Your smart speaker is programmed to identify sections of words known as “phones”. The more you talk to your smart speaker, the more its complex set of algorithms will begin to learn your use of words and speech patterns: it will become more accustomed to you – or ‘smarter’ – and thus way more useful and productive.
In order to get your speaker to complete certain tasks, there’s usually a pattern of instructive words you must use to put it into that mode. For instance, “Hey Google, add cheese, jalapenos and nachos to my shopping list.” Or “Hey Siri, remember my new bike lock code is…”
Voice-activated technology has come on leaps and bounds in recent years and – although utilised and automated differently by the different manufacturers – now lies at the heart of most [smart home](https://www.virginmedia.com/blog/smart-home) products.
Introducing a smart display
As detailed above, standard smart speakers are accessed using your voice, the recognition of which improves the more you use the equipment. However, should you want a screen to interact with your smart speaker and some of the other gadgetry in your smart home, then it might be time for you to consider a smart display.
Smart displays give you a more visual way to access information, such as the weather or your calendar, and will list the song and lyrics of that catchy tune from your playlist. They are not dissimilar from tablets, except the audio is usually far superior and some can have dual uses, such as acting as a makeshift security camera.
Current UK favourites are the Google Nest Hub Max (with security camera facility), Amazon Echo Show, Lenovo Smart Clock and Echo Show 5, with most experts suggesting you pair your smart display with the same operating system or voice assistant i.e the Google Nest Hub Max with the Google Assistant, Amazon Echo Show with Alexa, etc.
Which smart speaker is best for me?
Motivated by superior sound? Want your smart speaker to use the same operating system as your smartphone? Or simply inclined to go for the one that’ll look the best on your kitchen side? The frontrunners in the smart speaker market will cater for all your needs…
The Amazon Echo answers your queries quicker than its predecessor and emits a fuller sound, the updated Echo is one of the most popular smart speakers on the market.
An inexpensive device and great for any smart speaker novices wanting to test the market without breaking the bank. The small speaker doesn’t have stereo capabilities and there’s little oomph when it comes to the sonics, but as a starter speaker you really can’t go wrong here.
If you’re an Apple aficionado this could be the speaker for you. It exhibits all the cool design ethics of an Apple product, has a wonderfully crafted sound and will play nicely with all your other Apple products.
The Sonos One is regarded as one of best-sounding smart speaker on the market today. It can operate both Alexa and Google Assistant, it plays music while Alexa is muted and it has full AirPlay 2 support for any Apple users. You can also have a multi-room ecosystem.
Once up and running you’ll immediately notice the great sound and no doubt be happy with having both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa built-in.
Other cool stuff you can do with your smart speaker
They don’t just play music and control smart lights. With a creative imagination you can have them do so much more…
Have fun with homework, play musical statues, learn trivia – there’s lots of wonderfully interactive, built-in stuff that’ll amuse your young ones for hours. And lets’ face it, once they get to grips with your smart speaker, they’ll no doubt be more creative with it than you!
As well as asking for recipe suggestions, metric conversions and what wine goes best with a particular dish, you can add replacement goods to your shopping list as soon as they run out.
You can ask your smart speakers for nutritional information and to provide you with healthy recipes. You can have your speaker play soft and soothing noises at bedtime to help you sleep. You can receive prompts for richly deserved moments of relaxation and mediation. You can create upbeat playlists to help you stay motivated during a workout. The ways a smart speaker can help you maintain your health are limitless and the more functional and pragmatic they become, the less time we are glued to our screens.
Where smartphones were a step forward from computers, smart speakers are the next progression. They are a gateway to your smart home and one of the fastest adopted technologies across the world.
If you are a tech junkie with lots of smart gadgetry currently in your home or harbouring a strong desire to make your home smarter in the future, then a smart speaker would be a logical purchase as it will become the hub of your home setup.
Should you not be invested in smart technology and happy with using your smartphone to access music and information, then you should probably avoid.