The design is interesting. The idea is even more important. A lamp with an AI-driven voice assistant inside? Ever since the Amazon Echo first started invading living rooms and Alexa’s voice filled our kitchens, prognosticators have predicted voice interfaces becoming commonplace in the many objects around us. This isn’t just about smart appliances and the smart home. It is the idea that devices in every room of the home will give us access not just to the utility of an oven or a light, but to information accessible through the internet.
To date, that information and the voice interfaces have been relegated to smart speakers or other PC-like devices. Echo is the most famous, but other manufacturers have entered the fray ranging from Google and LG to niche players and regional powerhouses such as Jam Voice and LingLong. GE has broken the mold with it’s “C” Lamp. The design is provocative, but the inclusion of Alexa is most interesting. If you have the C Lamp, you don’t need to deploy an Echo Dot to that room to have Alexa access.
There is a thesis that the dominant mobile device manufacturers will become the dominant voice assistants providers. The logic is sound. You will want a voice assistant at various times throughout the day. You will want consistency. Your smartphone is always with you and already has context that can enhance the voice assistant’s capabilities, therefore you will use the voice assistant on your phone and eventually crowd everything else out. Then again, HTML 5 was supposed to be so much easier for developers that native apps would fade away. The logical rationale doesn’t always play out.
The counter hypothesis could be that “one voice assistant to rule them all” will not be the dominant consumer adoption trend. Maybe people will prefer purpose-built voice assistants and maybe overall context is less important than situational context. Or, maybe voice assistants will be so plentiful in the ambient environment that we won’t be reaching for our phones so much because computing will be accessible by voice nearly everywhere we find ourselves. GE has shown us a step in that direction. Welcome to the ubiquitous voice web.