Humanity’s introduction to computer-enabled voice recognition came by way of software that could translate the spoken word into text. That was followed by personal assistant apps for smartphones. These days, we have graduated to smart speakers – small appliances that sit on a countertop or table just waiting for their owners to command them.
Statistics suggest that 31% of American homes now have smart speakers. That does not mean they all know how to use them. In fact, there is no shortage of smart speaker owners constantly frustrated because their devices do not respond correctly.
Vivint Smart Home specializes in home automation and security equipment. On their list of items are smart speakers from Google and Amazon. All of their home security and automation equipment is compatible with the two devices. With all that said, Vivint says there are five things that make using a smart speaker harder than it has to be:
1. Excessively Noisy Environments
Unlike human ears, smart speakers are not particularly good at separating sounds. Their microphones pick up all of the sounds in a given area without discrimination. It is up to embedded software to try to make sense of it all. Unfortunately, it usually doesn’t turn out well. Smart speakers just do not perform up to par in excessively noisy environments.
If you find that your smart speaker doesn’t work like it should, ask yourself how noisy your home is. Too much noise could be the problem. Eliminate all the noise and see if your smart speaker works better.
2. Mumbling When You Speak
Smart speakers cannot parse language like the human brain can. Therefore, smart speaker software relies on users to speak clearly and articulately. If you mumble, your smart speaker may have trouble understanding what you’re trying to say. The same goes for speaking too fast. For greatest accuracy, speak slowly and clearly. Enunciate your words as well.
3. Unusual Sentence Structure
Smart speaker designers are working on improving natural language processing, which is the ability to infer even when a person’s sentence is not grammatically accurate. This is important for the simple fact that your smart speaker may have trouble with unusual sentence structures. It tends to expect certain words to be used in certain ways. If you speak what it is not expecting to hear, your smart speaker might be thrown off by your query.
4. Unknown Vocabulary Words
Right behind unusual sentence structure is unknown vocabulary. Manufacturers have done an incredibly good job of programming their device’s software with extensive vocabularies. Some of their software even has the ability to recognize unknown words and go look them up. But no smart speaker system is perfect.
You might find it harder to use your smart speaker because you are not using the right vocabulary. The speaker may be expecting you to use certain words when you issue a command. If you use other words, it will not understand what you’re saying.
5. A Lack of Volume
There is one way that smart speakers are similar to human ears: they need volume. Just like the human ear needs to hear your words, a smart speaker’s microphone needs to pick up the sound of your voice. If you are standing too far away, your smart speaker might not be able to register all of your words.
Smart speakers are gradually getting better as natural language processing technology improves. In the meantime, you can improve your smart speaker’s performance by keeping ambient noise to a minimum, being careful to speak clearly and articulately, and making sure you’re speaking loud enough for the device to hear you.