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Smart Home Speakers Now Echo In Indian Houses

If you have not engaged in a conversation with virtual assistants like Amazon Alexa or Google Home on smart speakers in your living home yet, this is the time to start one.

lot of awareness is still required among users to understand how the speakers work.

If you have not engaged in a conversation with virtual assistants like Amazon Alexa or Google Home on smart speakers in your living home yet, this is the time to start one.

Voice is the new human-compute interface and the Indian masses — be it a 3-year-old toddler or a 65-year-old grandpa — are finally going to leverage voice to interact with the devices and digitally control their lives.

Smart home speakers are today helping people perform routine activities such as making voice calls, streaming music, reading eBooks, accessing news, knowing about weather and traffic updates and much more.

Among all smart home devices, smart speakers are one of the fastest adopted technologies in India and have a 97 per cent satisfaction rate among Indian consumers, said an Accenture report this month.

smart speakers
Smart Speakers are used widely in Indian Households,Pixabay

Half of online consumers globally now use digital voice assistants, led by emerging markets such as India with 72 per cent adoption.

“It goes with our behaviour, irrespective of age that we ‘call’ someone for help. Very rarely will we type for help. With the elderly, it removes all the hassles of maneuvering through the menus, apps (while ordering food online). It makes the life simple,” Faisal Kawoosa, Founder and Principal Analyst of market research firm techARC, told IANS.

When it comes to the Indian market, American online retail giant Amazon’s Echo line-up of smart speakers appeals more to the masses than its rival Internet giant Google’s home speakers.

According to market research firm International Data Corp (IDC), the smart speakers category in India, led by Amazon, grew 43 per cent in the second quarter of 2018. Amazon with its Echo range of smart speakers led the category with 59 per cent market share, closely followed by Google.

Amazon’s Echo line-up of speakers has primarily focused on building its voice ecosystem around everyday services such as booking cabs on Uber, ordering food via and streaming Amazon’s own Prime Music service.

They can be also used to make Amazon purchases, turning on lighting and songs when prompted.

“With increasing adoption and satisfaction levels of smart speaker technology in India, we will see digital voice assistants influencing the whole consumer technology and service ecosystem in a way that no other device, including smartphones, has done before,” said Aditya Chaudhuri, Managing Director and lead in Accenture’s Communications, Media & Technology practice in India.

Smart televisions are becoming a popular trend.

The Accenture survey showed that 96 per cent of Indian consumers expect their home device purchases, such as smart TVs or computers, to be based on ease of integration with their standalone smart speaker.

“We are clearly heading towards a time in the not-too-distant future when voice becomes a standard mode of technology interaction alongside established approaches like keyboard mouse and touchscreen,” said David Watkins, Director at Strategy Analytics.

Highlighting the effect of smart speakers in our lives, Kawoosa said that while it is enabling more smartness to the tech space, it is also raising concerns like privacy.

“The technology, however, has a lot of power to redefine our future and the way we interface with devices as well as other things in the environment,” he added.

A lot of awareness is still required among users to understand how the speakers work.

In March last year, several Echo users complained of strange, unprompted laughter as the gadgets, equipped with Alexa, were responding with a slightly unnerving laugh when owners asked it to perform the simplest of tasks.

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“This anecdotally means ‘deewaron ke bi kaan hote hain’ (even the walls have ears). This is something users have to be aware of and be a bit more cautious while dealing with such devices who simply can listen and hear you,” said Kawoosa.

To make Alexa appeal more to the Indian users, Amazon has taught her Hindi and regional language phonetics to let her pronounce names of important places, events and places. Currently, Alexa supports English with an Indian accent in the country.


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Amazon Employees Risk Their Jobs by Criticizing Amazon’s Record on Climate Change

Workers Criticize Amazon on Climate Despite Risk to Jobs

Amazon employees
Employees walk through a lobby at Amazon's headquarters in Seattle. VOA

Hundreds of employees are openly criticizing Amazon’s record on climate change despite what they say is a company policy that puts their jobs at risk for speaking out.

On Sunday, more than 300 employees of the online retail giant signed their names and job titles to statements on blog post on Medium. The online protest was organized by a group called Amazon Employees For Climate Justice, an advocacy group founded by Amazon workers that earlier this month said the company had sent letters to its members threatening to fire them if they continued to speak to the press.

“It’s our moral responsibility to speak up, and the changes to the communications policy are censoring us from exercising that responsibility,” said Sarah Tracy, a software development engineer at Amazon, in a statement.

Amazon employees at the company logistics centre in Boves
The logo of Amazon is seen at the company logistics centre in Boves, France. VOA

Amazon said that its policy on external communications is not new and is in keeping with other large companies. It said the policy applies to all Amazon employees and is not directed at any specific group.

“While all employees are welcome to engage constructively with any of the many teams inside the company that work on sustainability and other topics, we do enforce our external communications policy and will not allow employees to publicly disparage or misrepresent the company or the hard work of their colleagues who are developing solutions to these hard problems,” according to a spokesperson from the company.

Amazon, which relies on fossil fuels to power the planes, trucks and vans that ship packages all over the world, has an enormous carbon footprint. And its workers have been vocal in criticizing some of the company’s practices.

Also Read- Social Networking Giant Facebook Blames Apple iOS for Bezos’ Phone Hacking

Last year, more than 8,000 staffers signed an open letter to CEO and founder Jeff Bezos demanding that it cut its carbon emissions, end its use of fossil fuels and stop its work with oil companies that use Amazon’s technology to locate fossil fuel deposits.

The company said in a statement that it is passionate about climate change issues and has already pledged to become net zero carbon by 2040 and use 100% renewable energy by 2030. (VOA)