I thought it was funny that Google and Alexa both handed out the neck worn badge holders which nobody seemed to wear.
There are some, but not a lot of companies that are innovating. There were a ton of smart speakers, thermostats, lights, electrical outlets and various appliances that can be controlled by assistants, but little of that rose to the level of true innovation based on where we are today. However, I did see a few new things too
- German Auto Labs, a relatively small startup, has released HeyChris, an automotive assistant that runs embedded in a car. It’s like an Amazon Echo Dot with a screen in the center that mounts to your window. It resembles the Garmin Speak with a speaker and small LCD screen for navigation.
- LG had arguably the nicest display area at the show, and although they supported the Google Assistant in some products they also had a line of of “Hey LG” washing machines, air purifiers, refrigerators and more!
- A Motorola branded DECT (cordless) phone with Alexa for calling into Alexa devices (they swear there’s a market for this in Europe!).
- Of course there was Bang and Olufsen with their innovative designs and most excellent margins for Google equipped smart speakers. I thought they would be bigger!
INFRASTRUCTURE PLAYERS ARE BETTING ON AMAZON AND GOOGLE
There’s lots of infrastructure developing 3rd-party support of Alexa, Google and custom voice interfaces. For example, a variety of chip companies like DSPG were showing their ability to enable lower power solutions while design houses like Sugr, StreamUnlimited, and Frontier Smart Technologies can assist with hardware and software development.
OVERALL, MORE EVIDENCE OF VOICE ASSISTANT ACCELERATION
IFA showed the continuing growth and accelerated market adoption of voice assistants. It was a well organized and like CES, IFA had separate locations that required transportation to access through transportation. Berlin, by the way is a fantastic and unique city with a very liberal feel, friendly people, the best Turkish food I’ve ever had, and very international. Parts of it even reminded me of Berkeley in the 1970s. Of course, there is a lot more presence of voice assistants today!
Todd Mozer is CEO and founder of Sensory.