The Internet of Things brings a new era of connectivity… and a talking fridge

As we continue toward a broader connected lifestyle and the “Internet of Things” evolves, devices of all shapes and sizes will leverage powerful voice recognition technology and cloud services to engage with, understand and respond to us on a more human level.

Voice recognition technology continues to be integrated in some of our most popular devices, from smartphones and connected cars, to tablets and Smart TVs.  And, as these devices become more advanced and connected, voice recognition will serve as a key tool for accessibility, interaction and convenience.  Consider a solution like voice biometrics, which will allow our devices – TVs, lighting systems, thermostats and many more – to recognize and understand us.  TVs will deliver preferred content, lighting systems will automatically adjust to our preferences and thermostats will instantly set the room to our desired temperature.

This seamless connectivity enabled by the Internet of Things will extend to many other devices, too, from smartphones and tablets to PCs and, yes, even home appliances.

What we’re transitioning into is a personalized, holistic and humanized connected living experience, defined by a network of intelligent systems and interfaces that will leverage voice recognition, natural language understanding, perceptive listening, contextual dialogue and the power of the cloud to communicate both with us and with each other.

These technologies – steadily becoming more advanced and popular – will empower a broad set of devices with capabilities that extend well beyond the most basic services they’re meant to provide.

Home appliances, for example will double as conversational personal assistants to enhance their offerings. You could show up at home after a long day of work and say to your refrigerator, ‘Remind me what I need to make that chicken recipe that I saw on the Food Network the other night.’  As you begin to sift through your fridge’s contents, it’ll find the recipe, tell you the ingredients, display the recipe in step-by-step form on an LED screen and even offer to communicate to the oven that it should begin preheating.  If you don’t have everything you need for the recipe, your fridge will easily present related options.  And, while you’re searching for your ingredients, you can say to your smartwatch, “Make the lighting in the kitchen a bit brighter once I start cooking,” because what’s on your wrist will correspond with what’s around your house.

These intelligent systems – powered by voice recognition and anchored in the cloud – will learn and adapt the more that we interact with them.  The same way that our TV and lighting systems will learn our preferences and respond accordingly, our cars will automatically suggest our preferred music playlists, our toaster ovens will understand how we like our bagels cooked and do so automatically and our thermostats will effortlessly adjust a room, or an entire house, to our desired temperature.  What we’ll soon see is our preferred experience in the many different situations that we find ourselves in delivered to us instantly – on the go, in the car, cooking in the kitchen, or leaning back on the couch watching TV.  And, if our preferences change over time, these intelligent systems will evolve with us and continue to deliver what we want.

The Internet of Things might sound obscure and complex – a talking refrigerator? – but this experience is already manifesting itself on some of our most commonly used devices, from smartphones to PCs.  A recent survey found that 83 percent of consumers said that they prefer the option of a conversational dialogue with their personal assistant on their mobile device.  Cisco, meanwhile, predicts that 50 billion “things” will be connected by 2020.  Since it’s a question of “when,” not “if,” people will eventually want that same conversational experience with other devices in their life, including the ones that they don’t currently regard in the same vein as their smartphones and tablets (home appliances, for example).

These advanced, connected devices will be in place to make our lives easier, but in order to do so, our interactions with them will need to feel natural and intuitive.  We need these devices to adapt to us, rather than the other way around.  This is why voice and the cloud will be so vital.  Voice recognition, natural language understanding and contextual dialogue will allow us to engage with these devices on a human level, while the cloud will grant them access to the information, services and applications needed to deliver to us an individualized experience.   As we continue to see a broader, more advanced adoption of this movement toward an all-encompassing connected lifestyle, it’ll be vital for the experience of using these devices to feel simplified and humanized.

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Greg Payne

About Greg Payne

In his role on the corporate communications team, Greg provides comprehensive support for Nuance’s Mobile-Consumer division’s communication efforts, spanning content development, media and analyst relations, and internal communications. Greg graduated from Endicott College in May of 2012 with a Bachelor’s degree in communication, and is currently completing Northeastern University’s Master of Science in Corporate and Organizational Communication program. Greg is a certified personal trainer and in his spare time he enjoys running half marathons and other road races, experimenting with new workouts, cooking, and screenwriting.