Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been the hot topic in the IT industry. Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri are fiercely competing. Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana are collaborating. In South Korea, SK Telecom’s 'NUGU’(smart speaker) and Korea Telecom’s 'GiGA Genie'(smart speaker) are competing. In the meantime, Naver and Kakao also have entered the Artificial Intelligence platform business in South Korea.
At this time, let's look at smart speakers. A lot of products have been released. Each company advertises that its smart speaker performs better than others. Some products get a better sense of what the user is saying. Some products search the internet better than others. From a consumer's point of view, it's a good time to purchase a smart speaker.
But, let's take a look at the core technology behind these smart speakers. The performances of the artificial intelligence platforms operated by those companies are not significantly different.
All artificial intelligence platforms are based on ‘Machine Learning’, 'Deep Learning', and ‘Big Data’ accumulated by many users. It responds well to what the user is asking, but the artificial intelligence (or a smart speaker) does not talk first. It is passive and it does not have the ability to imitate personality. In this way, many vendors and products become colorless.
There is an exception. It is a holographic-style virtual character called the ‘Gatebox', which was released in Japan in 2016. This product actively talks with the user and communicates with the user like a real person. The latest version of ‘Gatebox' costs 150,000 yen in Japan.(about 1,350 US dollar) Despite the somewhat expensive price, this product is popular in Japan.
The reason why competition is so good in capitalism is that differentiation is made. Small companies make good products with excellent ideas. Major companies produce good products with big facilities and a long time based on their capital. These companies make their own efforts to sell their products in the market.
However, there is no excellent idea in the current smart speaker market. There are many smart speakers and Virtual Assistants. However, the services are almost the same. This is because latecomers follow the form of the front-runner.
I do believe that companies need to research and develop Artificial Intelligence technology more deeply. When companies launch smart speakers that are similar to each other and promote them, they do not get much response. I am really looking forward to seeing innovative smart speakers, to get this industry move forward.
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