Digital assistants will battle for your ears — as the sales of smart audio products triple

Digital assistants will battle for your ears — as the sales of smart audio products triple
Editor at TechForge Media. Often sighted at global tech conferences with a coffee in one hand and laptop in the other. If it's geeky, I'm probably into it.

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According to a new study by Juniper Research, the sales of smart audio hardware will more than triple over the next four years and provide a new arena for digital assistants to battle for your attention. 

Among the competitors are ear-based wearables such as the Bragi Dash and HERE Active Listening, as well as smart home speakers including the popular Amazon Echo and upcoming Google Home.

Smart speakers and hearables will fill very different roles

Between ear-based wearables and smart home speakers, Juniper expects home-based devices to be more popular as most consumers don’t yet feel comfortable speaking to devices in public and smartphones can already provide many of the functions with the mic included on some headphones. 

Devices which operate in a more private environment will increase engagement, and with a primary function of many digital assistants to control the smart home it feels more natural to be situated within it. Amazon’s Echo already features a vast amount of integrations with current smart home products — a reason it’s so popular (where it’s sold.) 

“Smart speakers win out because while they also need a context, their form factor gives them an almost universal one, while hearables fill specific audio niches,” remarked research author James Moar. “As a result, smart speakers and hearables will fill very different roles, despite relying on similar software capabilities in many cases.” 

One ‘niche’ scenario which Moar references is that of fitness devices which can take accurate biometrics and provide voice feedback direct to a user’s ear. Others, especially those who take many calls a day, will prefer to have a device which moves with them and enables features such as noise cancellation. 

The whitepaper, Sensing the Hearables Opportunity’, is available to download from the Juniper website together with further details of the full research. 

Are you surprised at Juniper’s smart audio forecast? Share your thoughts in the comments. in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their IoT use-cases? Attend the IoT Tech Expo World Series events with upcoming shows in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam to learn more.

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