COVID could end up being the renaissance of IoT
I had talked at one of the events a couple of years ago about the lack of adoption of IoT. At the event, we were discussing the interfacing. For a lot of us who used a computer before 1995, our introduction to computers was through the command-line interface. We would have to remember commands to get anything done and it was a drab world to live in.
And then Bill Gates copied the graphical user interface (GUI) from Apple; which Apple had copied from XEROX PARC and brought it to the. It changed the way we interacted with computers. It made computing a lot more useful and made it accessible to many more people. Things became far more intuitive. The smartphone is an extension of the same interface.
The touch interface is still the GUI only with a different interaction paradigm.
I had mentioned at the time that the next paradigm that is arising is the Voice User Interface.
With the rise of Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), there are a host of voice recognition services that are now available in the market. Apple has Siri, Microsoft has Cortana, Amazon has Alexa and Google has Skynet (?). At the same time, all except Microsoft have their smart speakers to deploy these services at home. While these services have not penetrated our lives as much as they would have hoped, COVID has presented them with the best opportunity to date.
Touch is a huge problem in the COVID universe. It is how the infection can spread across people. Almost all of the electronics in every house and office is designed to be touched. Doors, Door Locks, Switchboards, coffee machines, lifts, other appliances, etc. Almost all of them can be controlled through Voice-based solutions if the right interface is in place.
Amazon most certainly has a leg up on all of the others with Alexa Skills and the integrations that it offers. Home Automation was considered the next big wave of technology in 2015. None without exception failed. Nest that was acquired for 3 Billion dollars by Google has not made any mark.
Nobody wants to pull out their phone, summon up an app, find the right screen and switch off the light. It’s inconvenient. I always maintained that the intuitive thing to do is to provide voice interfaces for all Home Automation. Almost all of these devices can be easily connected with all of the smart speakers.
Alexa, switch off the lights.
The current situation has the potential to unleash the home and office automation revolution that was predicted back in 2015. Voice-controlled coffee machines, switches, lights, fans, doors, lifts, AC, TV, etc. How this all plays out and who makes the first move remains to be seen. It would be a shame if nobody takes advantage of this situation to bring this revolutionary technology to the market.