"Alexa, what's today's date?" It's a common question asked of the reported 100 million Amazon Alexa devices sold. Yet until now, any conversation has been somewhat stilted and needing to be prefaced by "Alexa".
Amazon, though, is planning to make interactions more natural by eradicating the need to say her name repeatedly and increasing the devices flexibility. Its promotional video shows that an initial question, like Alexa, what movies are playing nearby?, can be followed by movie selection, ticket purchase, and plan making for the rest of the night, without the user needing to repeat the opening command. This is likely to change the way that people shop, adding a new lens when researching consumer decisions in things like path to purchase.
Alexa has the edge on assistants like Google Home because it uses algorithms that guess the users next question. So how could Alexa and similar devices make their way into the research world? If Alexa becomes smarter and conversational, this suggests that it could be used for questioning and response. Some agencies are already using voice assistants to hear consumers voices. Amazons corporate muscle, plus the recent AlexaConversations announcement, means were likely to see some major developments in this area.
Director, Yonder Consulting Limited
This article was first published in InBrief magazine, December 2019
Copyright © Association for Qualitative Research, 2019