When voice-activated home assistants go rogue

With the rising popularity of voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant we thought we would see if the marketing hype surrounding them was really as good as they claim.

We decided to make a game of chess that you can play with your voice. A simple app like this we thought shouldn’t raise too many challenges and it’d be fun to play.

We’ve written 2 blogs about the technical challenges we faced with both Alexa and Google Assistant, and to be honest the outtakes video below summarises those challenges perfectly.

The main challenge is getting them to understand anything beyond very simple commands such as “turn on the light”. Having tried both systems in a number of applications we feel the marketing surrounding these devices has massively overstated their abilities as well as their usefulness. We’ve all been using them at home as well, and we’ve had very mixed results and we’ve all ended up with the Google Assistant over the Alexa.

“I’ve got a great idea for a voice app”

So if you’re thinking of making an app for your brand, you need to seriously consider how the inevitable situation of the device not understanding the user will reflect on your brand. After all if, like our video shows, your Alexa downloads a fake mind-reading app with adult language when you asked it to play a game of chess, what will your users think of your brand’s ability to deliver your product/service?

As it stands, we feel Google is miles ahead of Amazon in terms of voice recognition. The potential security risk of Alexa installing apps on it’s own with no authentication raises some concerns, but of course this tech will get better over time.

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