Australia is finally beginning to see the sprouting and ramifications of artificial intelligence (AI) with a paradigm shift within the operations department of technological companies. Committed to gear its way towards a smart nation, the country is doubling its pace in adoption of AI and robotics automation to reap a $2.2 trillion opportunity by 2030.
To make this an achievable goal, Australia has not only introduce Apple HomePod, but the unprecedented Google Home in July 2017, beating Amazon Echo who has yet to be launched outside of US.
The introduction of these products into Australia’s market suggests a potential demand for AI products in the country. While Australia may be behind its neighbouring countries in terms of adoption of AI, this small step may be a milestone for its commitment towards a smart and tech-savvy society.
The new Google Home contains a smart speaker that is able to anticipate your actions. This includes hands-free calling and a myriad of entertainment options.
The key feature however, is that every Google Home will soon transform into a free speakerphone for Wi-Fi calls within Australia by this year, just like the US. This suggests free calling without the risk of privacy issues as calls made from a Google Home will show up as "private". With personalisation options, one can also choose to customise it to show your phone number.
Google Home is able to recognise different voices and thereby reference that user's contacts when a user goes, "call mum” for example. User-friendly and simple to use, there are no additional setup required beyond getting your Google Home configured.
A user is only required to command ‘OK Google’ from afar for it to deliver web search results, play podcasts or music, set timers, or find out about the weather. New features will offer information proactively, like flight delays or traffic warnings, will even differentiate between different voices, and let you make purchases from online businesses that support it.
Part of the delay between Home's international and Australian launches can be attributed to the fact that the speaker — and Google Assistant, the voice-activated AI that also runs on Google's Pixel smartphones — has been localised both to recognise and interpret Aussie accents, as well as respond in kind with a bespoke voice.
Australia will be one of the first markets around the world to get the HomePod in Apple Stores. Sitting approximately at 18 centimetres tall, the HomePod integrates one of Apple's A8 chips with an eight-speaker array — one upward-firing woofer and seven tweeters, alongside six directional microphones to pick up your voice anywhere around a room and send it off to Siri. Whenever Siri is engaged, the HomePod will display the Siri waveform on the top of the speaker, the same location where the HomePod's touch-sensitive controls are.
Automatic room-sensing technology allows HomePod to quickly learn its position in a room, whether it’s in a corner, on a table or in a bookshelf. It is then able to perfectly optimise itself to deliver an immersive music listening experience wherever it is placed in a matter of seconds.
Impact of voice AI
Welcome to a future where your voice is the main signal for the elaborate data grid known as your life.
Gummi Hafsteinsson, Google Assistant Product Lead says. “For now, the goal is to create a personalised user experience that can answer questions, manage tasks, help get things done and also have some fun with music and more. We’re starting with creating this experience and haven’t shared details on advertising within the Google Assistant up to this point.”
GE, a digital industrial company is a business-to-business example of how AI-based utilities will soon help enormously expensive products like locomotives, jet engines and turbines sell themselves. For instance, GE has developed a prototype that lets an otherwise insentient locomotive send a voice message to a repair technician describing what needs to be fixed.
“Voice is a productivity tool,” remarks Linda Boff, CMO of GE.
It’s part of GE’s Digital Twin program, which creates 3-D representations of industrial assets and can process information gathered from individual machines globally to make better informed decisions. It’s essentially machine-based crowdsourcing for repairs and maintenance of trains which only require digital feedback that will be automated. This is yet another voice AI that is set to roll out in 2018 that will eventually make these ‘smart trains’.
Impact on employment and retaining workers
It is certain that the acceleration of smart technology can provide an even stronger catalyst for Australia’s economic growth. This is however, dependent upon policies and opportunities in place to help workers who may be affected by the integration of such technology in their workplace which may also call for a demand in niche technological skills. Retraining opportunities is one solution to curb this issue. It is predicted that 6.2million people will join the Australian workforce in the next few years which will enhance its economic growth only if they are equipped with the right skills to perform high-value tasks that robots and AI cannot master.
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Source: abc.met.au, AlphaBeta repot on artificial intelligence, Gizmodo, Apple, Adweek