Smart assistants are going to be adopted faster than smartphones, they’ll be embedded in everything, and they’ll have lots of bad apps.

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Welcome to a special edition of Hashtag Trending. We’re closing out 2017 by predicting what tech topics will be trending in 2018. I’ll be making predictions about AI assistants – like Amazon’s Alexa, or Google Assistant.

My top prediction is that 2018 will see a rapid pace of adoption for smart speaker devices. I’m talking about devices like Google Home, Amazon Echo, or Apple’s yet-to-launch HomePod. Adoption will be so swift, it will be higher than any smartphone adoption numbers we’ve ever seen. I’m not the only one that thinks so. Analysts at IDC Canada agree with me. Based on its own survey data and on the adoption of the devices since their official launch, IDC predicts that standalone intelligent assistants will find a home in 1 million Canadian households by the end of 2018.

My second prediction is that AI assistants will become the most-embedded service on connected devices since Wi-Fi itself. Forget standalone speakers – AI assistants are going to come installed on your themostat, your light switches, in your car, and on your headphones. In fact, don’t be surprised if the smart TV you already own suddenly gets access to an AI assistant after a software update. Just take this one example – Juniper Research has data showing that 66 per cent of ear-based wearable devices had access to voice-assistants at the end of 2017. It projects that to grow to 78 per cent by 2022.

With so many people using AI assistants, brands will want to get on board with their own Skills and Actions as soon as possible. But that will not go as well as they hope. I predict that most third-party services developed for AI assistants will see poor engagement. People might try them once or twice, but then they’ll drop off and forget about them. It’s going to take time for companies to figure out how to design for this new technology. Just take it from Tara Kelly, the CEO of Splice Software. She says that 90 per cent of brands that launch a voice service will allow the AI assistant to talk to users in its default voice. But that will be a mistake and a lost branding opportunity.

That’s what will trend next year. Hashtag Trending is produced by IT World Canada. Today’s episode is sponsored by Cogeco Peer 1, the company that enables businesses to unlock their IT potential. Learn more at CP1.com.



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