This week Amazon launch the next incarnation of its Smart Speakers – the Echo Show. As with the Amazon Echo it will have the inbuilt Alexa Voice Assistant and access to Flash Briefings and Skills just as other speakers do. The first device with an integrated screen, what difference will a visual element make to the way devices are used and content created? Is it the “natural evolution”, as Amazon describe, or just a touchscreen plonked on the front? We’ll soon know.
The functionality is intuitive and appealing. Of course there should be an infographic when you ask for tomorrow’s weather. Of course it should show you the train times if you’re wanting to plan a route. This makes perfect sense but could arguably leave you wondering, why not just use a smart phone? Or a tablet? Smart Speakers’ success depends on the User Experience. You don’t want to have to get out your phone, unlock it, press a button and then ask for some information. You don’t want to have to walk across a room to grab a tablet. We want what we want, now. It’s for that reason the underlying use of a Smart Speaker wont change even with the new screen added, but it’s natural that a screen can enhance, rather than alter, the ‘UX’.
When you ask Alexa to play a song the Echo Show will automatically screen the song lyrics. In large font so it can be read from across the room. A nice to have even if seldom used. When you order a pizza a visual confirmation of your order still makes the most of the voice activated technology that makes it so convenient, but means you can check your order at a glance. ZERO User Interface is becoming OPTIONAL User Interface…there when and if you need it.
Where we’re most excited about the introduction of a visual element at Hive Content is where it could lead with changing the type of content we make. A recipe can now have visual explainers that still allow you to cook up a feast without needing to turn the pages of a book with food with mucky hands. A Flash Briefing could be executed via audio and video. Children could see the correct spelling versus the incorrect spelling they gave to reinforce learning.
As with every device, we will be spending many, many hours working out what it can do and what opportunities a visual addition to Smart Speaker technology might offer. Subscribe to our newsletter for our thoughts one we’ve had the chance to road test Amazon’s latest gadget.