Customize or Assimilate?

Image for post
Image for post

Hardware makers today have a few choices to make. If they’d like to add voice to their hardware and have handsfree interaction, they can either go the route of adding Alexa and Google Assistant or build their own custom AI assistant.

If they go the route of Amazon or Google, their customers are going to be referring to their product as “Alexa” or “OK/Hey Google”. Their brand disappears and the interaction just becomes another endpoint for the AI giants. When Alexa Voice Service came out, I must have had dozens of conversations with hardware makers who wanted to use AVS but scrap the
Alexa wake word. They wanted the rich feature set of Alexa without paying the price of assimilation.

The price for a custom solution means rebuilding all of the integrations, testing the service, building all the applications. This is the work that 10,000s of people have spent years doing for Amazon and Google already.

There are short cuts to building an AI assistant. Houndify has created dozens of domains that can do the top 80% of common queries (with the exception of integration with music). However, that gap scares device makers.

Perhaps Amazon or Google could offer a customizable version of their AI that would be pay-to-play? Already, developers can use Amazon Lex and Polly to build custom interactions but what if the interaction could use all of the Alexa Skills but just have a different TTS engine and wake word?

The other opportunity is for a company like Houndify to offer a completely turn key version of their AI, like Hound, but that can also fulfill music requests. One can dream…

Independent daily thoughts on all things future, voice technologies and AI. More at

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store