In recent years, smart speakers have become increasingly popular in the US These wireless speakers are one of the most recent advancements in AI (artificial intelligence) technology. They respond to voice commands and are capable of a wide variety of functions, from searching the Internet to playing a song or playlist, checking the weather report, creating a to-do list, controlling a variety of home devices and much more. . depending on the smart speaker model you own and how “smart” your home is set to be. Recent research has shown that more than 39 million people within the US now own one of these devices.
Considering the current popularity of these devices, it’s hard to believe that it was as recent as 2016 when the first product of its kind was introduced: Amazon’s Echo speaker with Alexa voice control. Since then, Google has released its own version of the smart speaker, along with Apple, Microsoft, and many others. Although sales of these units will undoubtedly fluctuate over time, as of this writing, some of the most popular devices are Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, and Microsoft’s Cortana.
While there is no question that the capabilities of the smart speakers are impressive, none are multilingual, at least not yet. The fact is, right now, no matter which smart speaker you buy, you will only be able to speak one language at a time. Users can determine which language their device will use by choosing the language setting on the unit. Amazon’s Alexa, at the time of writing, is capable of understanding only three languages: English, German, and Japanese. Microsoft’s Cortana understands six different languages: English (American and British), German, Italian, Spanish, French, and Mandarin Chinese. Apple’s Siri offers more extensive language capabilities including the following: Arabic, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai and Turkish. It also supports a variety of dialects for Chinese, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish.
But thanks to Google, the language capabilities of smart speakers are about to change. Currently, the Google Assistant understands eight languages: English, German, French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese. However, by the end of 2018, Google Assistant will support more than 30 languages and will become multilingual. This means that instead of the user needing to change the language settings of their smart speakers and only being able to speak one language at a time, the Google Assistant will be able to switch from one language to another seamlessly, just as its users would. multilingual. . That means that if a user speaks more than one language at home, or speaks one language at home and another at work, for example, the intelligent speaker will be able to understand and communicate in both. Google plans to provide this multilingual capability initially (late 2018) for English, French, and German, adding more languages over time after that. By the end of the year, this smart speaker will be able to communicate in more than 30 different languages.
It’s easy to see why smart speakers have become so popular in recent years. In our technological age, the ability to access necessary information simply by asking a device is convenient and engaging, not to mention all the other capabilities that smart speakers provide. Therefore, it is not surprising that the next logical step is to produce multilingual versions of these popular devices. After all, we live in an increasingly multi-ethnic and multi-lingual world, and our artificial intelligence should reflect those qualities as well.