As the smart appliance market quickly grows as one of the most popular elements in the smart home, voice controlrepresents a critical technology feature supporting it. According to research from SAR Insight, more than 66 million voice processors for smart appliances are expected to ship by 2024, representing a CAGR of 55% between 2019 and 2024.
To that end, last week,Knowles Corporation, a global provider of advanced micro-acoustic microphones and speakers, audio processing, and precision device solutions, announced the AISonic™ White Goods (WGs) Standard Solution. According to Vikram Shrivastava, senior director, IoT Marketing, Knowles, the new White Goods Standard Solution was developed specifically to address the growing need for voice support in smart appliances such as refrigerators, ovens, microwaves, washing and drying machines, and others.
“As this market grows, so does the demand for voice integration. As such, OEMs and ODMs are being asked to deliver voice-enabled smart appliances that work correctly and efficiently, every time. This places mounting pressure on appliance manufacturers that are already attempting to build a multitude of complex, new smart features and connectivity to meet customer demand.”
This new, complete development solution enables fast and easy voice integration for smart appliances, the company reports. The development kit enables OEM and ODMs to build voice-activated control and far-field speech recognition capabilities into smart appliances, including refrigerators, ovens and microwaves, clothes washing and drying machines, vacuums, dishwashers, and more. The Knowles WGs Standard Solution was used by Samsung in its FamilyHub™ connected hub for smart appliances.
THE DEVELOPMENT KIT ENABLES OEM AND ODMS TO BUILD VOICE-ACTIVATED CONTROL AND FAR-FIELD SPEECH RECOGNITION CAPABILITIES INTO SMART APPLIANCES.
The WGs Standard Solution solves a few problems, explained Shrivastava. “The development package itself is built on the AISonic Audio Edge Processor, which enables the most accurate contextual audio and sensing on the market for voice. Using advanced voice processing algorithms, much of the audio processing is moving to the edge and away from the cloud. This has helped simplify user interfaces and lower latency for more accurate voice recognition so that a consumer’s voice can always be heard, even in even in noisy kitchens or utility rooms where there is a lot of background noise.”
Shrivastava further explained that the edge is also more cost-effective in terms of dollars and bandwidth. Selective wake-word detection and algorithms, rather than those that are always-listening, waiting for input, require less power consumption and bandwidth, which can translate into a better experience for consumers.
“The ability for a consumer to ask their refrigerator to read aloud a grocery inventory, play a recipe video while cooking, or ask the oven to pre-heat while they prepare dinner, all contribute to the user experience and improve time spent in the kitchen or throughout the home,” he said.
The Knowles White Goods Standard Solution supports voice service interoperability, allowing multiple voice assistants to be integrated into a single device and enabling customers to talk to the service of their choice in a secure manner by simply saying its name. This enables the Knowles WGs Standard Solution to be integrated into a broader ecosystem of smart appliance devices, allowing for greater product development freedom and innovation.
Shrivastava recognizes the barriers with voice technology. “Voice has become a critical component of how end-users access their smart devices in the home. The single biggest barrier to widespread voice adoption remains accuracy. If a user has to ask a voice assistant to turn off the lights or to turn on their dishwasher three times, that is no more convenient than manually doing it.
“By processing voice and audio on the edge, this friction is removed, providing high performance in a small size that support smart appliances that can more accurately listen to and immediately act on user requests – i.e., ’Alexa, turn my oven to 350 degrees.’ This level of seamless control and accessibility has a trickle-down impact on adoption. The more that consumers have a positive experience with voice control, the more they’ll want to adopt more devices using it and so on. So, getting voice integration right now is critical to supporting future growth of the smart home.”
Retailers should expect to see more appliances with voice control built in as manufacturers begin to widely implement audio processing on the edge for voice, Shrivastava said. Integrators should continue to be aware of this trend and how it benefits consumers. “Recommending and installing smart appliances, like the Samsung FamilyHub™, that leverage audio edge processing for voice integration from companies like Knowles is a good place to start,” Shrivastava noted.