SoftAtHome explains why voice technology in general – and Amazon Alexa in particular – is becoming a central part of the user experience – Digital TV Europe
What are the main trends you see in the SoftAtHome market and how central is voice technology to your strategy?
Faced with an impressive variety of services, from entertainment to the Internet of Things (IoT), each offering a different user experience, Voice is the most natural way to bring it all together.
The most disruptive and impactful trend we are seeing is the advent of distribution and the OTT business model for all of these services, old and new. OTT has made many innovative new services available to the end user. Some of them, such as the Amazon Echo, come with voice control. Within their home network, there is a risk of user experience and technology fragmentation.
The home network has always been at the center of SoftAtHome. As IoT devices begin to develop, we believe there is an opportunity for operators to help users gain more control over their digital lives at home. The voice is the most natural way to do this.
How important is voice control to end consumers and why are SoftAtHome and Amazon the right partners to approach this market?
SoftAtHome is a business by operators, for operators and provides a measure of risk control to ISPs. Amazon is the world leader in voice technologies. Thanks to SoftAtHome’s status as a qualified Alexa solutions provider, it is able to offer cutting edge voice and AI technologies to its carrier customer base, running on various carrier devices such as set-top boxes ( STB), repeaters or smart speakers. Alexa is present in more than 80 countries in 15 languages and manages billions of interactions per week.
To date, based on publicly available data from Amazon, there have been over 3.5 billion Alexa utterances on video devices. Amazon cites that more than 80% of customers using FireTV Cube also use the device for home automation, and that voice navigation and reports per customer are six times that of other Far Field voiceless devices. Amazon offers over 50 apps with extensive built-in voice commands worldwide in its FireTV App Store.
According to data from the Omdia survey (April 2021), 19% of the Internet population in the markets of 8 countries – the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Mexico, Brazil, the India and Japan – use voice commands to operate video devices. According to Omdia, the two main uses of voice control are content discovery and navigation. At the same time, it has been identified that market attrition is mainly due to the lack of content discovery.
A voice offer is therefore a strategic approach to increase user retention.
How does SoftAtHome enable operators to deploy Amazon Alexa, including control of the set-top box from an Amazon Echo?
SoftAtHome uses built-in software to integrate Amazon Alexa Voice Service (AVS) and SmartScreen SDK integration into various devices such as set-top boxes, smart speakers, gateways and far-field and push-to-range Wi-Fi repeaters. talk.
To allow operators to deploy the devices of their choice, SoftAtHome has created an Audio Lab. Device manufacturers can perform voice calibration through this Amazon-certified lab to pre-certify Alexa audio devices.
SoftAtHome then customizes Alexa Video skills to deliver the best voice experience for TV and IoT services.
SoftAtHome helps service providers deploy a complete end-to-end Amazon Alexa voice environment. Thanks to the cloud components deployed by SoftAtHome, the operator will activate Alexa from his devices (STB, repeaters) and control them remotely from an Amazon Echo.
In a commercial deployment, SoftAtHome provides an SLA for end-to-end system performance.
What are the stages of a typical operator integration project and what is the end result for the user?
The example of the Deutsche Telekom AG (DTAG) project where SoftAtHome integrated Alexa into Deutsche Telekom’s Magenta smart speaker project:
- The overall project started at the end of 2018, starting with the design of the device. This first Alexa integration took about six months, including software integration and scoping testing to certification with Amazon for music, acoustic testing, functional testing, and security certification.
- The scope usually includes activities such as defining which music service to activate: Spotify, Amazon Music, and later Apple Music. Note that an agile project approach allows us to easily change the scope of future releases.
- The SoftAtHome team consisted of software architects, developers and audio experts.
- In this project, we have enabled two assistants within the same device so that users can initiate a request by saying “Hello Magenta” or “Alexa”.
- Note that to perform acoustic tests, SoftAtHome used a specially designed room that meets Amazon requirements.
Why is now the right time to invest in this technology, and what is your ambition?
In 2020, several large operators in the EU, including Free, SFR, DT and Vodafone, launched products integrated with Alexa. Orange and Telefonica also have a say in their offer.
Our ambition is to provide the best-in-class, most scalable solution to operators around the world looking to integrate voice technology into their home network environment.
Explore your development options
Book a free one-on-one call with SoftAtHome and Amazon Alexa to discuss ideas for your first voice-activated project.
Please contact us directly or visit the SoftAtHome website for more information. We can’t wait to talk to you!
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