Who Are You Talking to? Voice-activated Devices Take Center Stage
The first time I heard someone talking out loud to Amazon’s voice activated device, Echo, asking Alexa™ to play a certain type of music, I thought it was so strange. And, I’m solidly a Gen Xer who is open to technology! Fact is, voice activated technology is a hot trend with implications for libraries everywhere.
Still wondering who the heck Alexa is? She is currently so popular that she gets 1 million hits on Google search results each month. What’s more, an estimated 10 million Alexa-enabled devices have been sold since 2014.
However, she defies an easy explanation. The popular Tom’s Guide describes her as a “virtual personal assistant” who lives inside Amazon’s Echo smart speakers and as many as 12,000 other voice-activated home devices. She’s a smart home hub.
People who have these devices in their homes can command Alexa to do things for them, control other electronics in the house or ask her questions.
Sure, she can queue your favorite song, but she can also:
- Give you a weather report.
- Shop online for you.
- Update your calendar.
- Dial up the thermostat and turn on the lights.
- Get the latest scores from the big game.
- Judge your fashion.
How Does She Do ALL That?
Alexa technology is cloud based and relies on the internet. If it’s easily searchable online, Alexa can interact with it.
- You say something to Alexa.
- Alexa makes a recording of it and sends it over the internet.
- It reaches Alexa Voice Services, which processes the recording.
- The recording is converted into an actionable command.
- Ta da, you don’t have to leave the couch to accomplish things!
Plus, according to Business Insights, Alexa is easy to work with. Amazon makes it simple for developers to integrate Alexa into their systems. She represents a fully programmable service that syncs with other online services to do a surprising range of tasks.
What Does Alexa Have to Do With YOUR LIBRARY?
By the end of this year, 35.6 million Americans will be using voice-activated devices, up an amazing 129% since 2016. Smartphone use, representing 77% of the U.S. population or ~222.9 million people, is still more popular, but smart home devices are rapidly gaining popularity.
In other words, these are trends to pay attention to. Demco Software sure is on behalf of libraries everywhere.
Our latest innovation, Demco® DiscoverLocal makes your library’s events and more discoverable on Google. And, it pairs with Alexa!
What can Alexa & Demco® DiscoverLocal do?
- Find information about library hours and services
- Place holds and renew items already checked out
- Discover events and register to attend
- Reserve study or meeting rooms
Check out the video of me grilling Alexa and getting her to keep my library connection strong even when I was on the road for ALA.
Alexa may not be able to pick-up and deliver library holds, but along with Demco® DiscoverLocal, she sure helps make your library more relevant and integrated into people’s modern lives!
What do you think of voice-activated devices? Are they making lives easier? Can you see them playing a role in your library’s service model? Share your thoughts in the comments.