Beginners Guide to Voice Services In the Age of Digital Assistants

By | Enterprise Mobility, Technologies

Leveraging your voice to initiate a command, start a service or even change the channel has been around for years. I remember in my grade school days hearing the voice of my parents or grandparents to fetch them something from the other room, change the channel on the television or even just to be quiet. These days, kids have a lot of distractions, from tablets to noise canceling headphones, rendering those ‘old school’ personal assistants no longer available.

All jokes aside, digital assistants and voice driven interactions are becoming commonplace as voice services increasingly improve. BlueFletch has been fortunate enough to work with clients across an array of industry verticals to explore how voice services will impact their organizations. We’ve helped our clients leverage voice services for more impactful engagement with their customers, allowing them to engage customers in new ways and capturing metadata that would be lost during a normal human interaction. Other clients are increasing the efficiency of their workforce by adding voice services in order to allow a worker to be hands free, keeping attention on critical actions and creating a safer work environment.

A (Recent) History of Voice Services

In recent years, we are yelling less at kids and more at Alexa, Bixby, Cortana, Google and Siri. Every major tech company is working on its own digital assistant that is powered by a set of voice services.

      • Apple released Siri in 2011 and now Siri is apart of most of Apple’s operating systems (i.e. iOS, watchOS, macOS and tvOS)
      • Amazon Alexa was made popular by the Amazon Echo and the Amazon Echo Dot. Fun fact, the name Alexa was chosen due to the fact that it has a hard consonant with the X and therefore could be recognized with higher precision.
      • Microsoft lifted its character from the Halo video game franchise to launch their intelligent personal assistant Cortana.
      • Google Assistant was unveiled just last year. Different from Google Now, the Google Assistant can engage in two-way conversations.

This year has been the year of the voice for BlueFletch. We have been a part of many workshops and brainstorming sessions where voice is the centerpiece of the User’s experience. For those new to the space, I wanted to talk about the three technologies that are key to bringing these voice experiences to life.

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What’s on the Menu: Automation

By | Enterprise Mobility, Technologies

Meet Gordon, your eye-catching new barista. He’s polished, intelligent, distinguished, and here’s his greatest feature: he can make 100-200 cups of coffee an hour. His least appealing qualities you ask? He’s severely lacking interpersonal skills and has zero game. Also, there is just ONE more thing to mention about him…he’s a robotic arm. In fact, Gordon is programmed to make the perfect cup of coffee using beans from local favorites like Peets, Verve Coffee Roasters, and AKA coffee. All of you lucky singles, cafe hipsters and dark roast gurus can meet this hunk of metal at Cafe X, which opened its figurative doors earlier this year in San Francisco in hopes of providing a more efficient experience for coffee aficionados. Though more like a fully enclosed kiosk than a traditional coffee shop, Cafe X still shares the same common goal as their competitors: provide customers with a cup of coffee consistently and conveniently.

automationThe setup is simple. Customers can order their drink in advance from the Cafe X mobile app, or at one of two iPads mounted outside on site. After the cashless order is placed, Gordon begins showing off by simultaneously operating a pair of standard professional coffee machines while serving premium drinks (1-4 per minute to be exact). Once the beverage is ready, customers use the iPads to type in a four-digit order number, which was sent to them via text message or displayed on the Cafe X mobile app for iOS or Android. The Mitsubishi-built, robotic arm identifies the customer’s drink from the waiting station and then delivers their fragrant, piping hot latte within seconds. Thanks to Gordon’s artificial-intelligence software, pre-orders are taken into consideration alongside walk-in orders to ensure no one is waiting too long. Read More

2016 Holiday Gift Guide, IoT edition

By | Enterprise Mobility, Technologies

Dip your toes into the 21st Century

Maybe you have been thinking about trying to make your life a little “smarter”, but don’t want to spend the time researching the difference between Zigbee and Zwave. Maybe you just want something that works. Here are some products to get you started that won’t break the bank. These also happen to make excellent stocking stuffers for those of you interested in dipping your toes into IoT for the Holidays!

Wemo® Switch ($30)

wemo, IoTThis is probably the best place for someone to start – the Wemo® Switch offers the simplest integration: just download an app, point it to the right WiFi, and you can turn on and off an outlet (1 socket) with the flip of a Wemo® Switch. The Switch also lets you set rules to control the device and this combination makes the Switch versatile, allowing it to turn on and off your indoor holiday lights at certain hours of the day or that space heater you always forget about.

There are some drawbacks – the Wemo® Switch app looks pretty dated on Android and isn’t the most stable and the plastic encasing will almost always block the entire outlet.

Tips for tinkerers:

Even though you can always use IFTTT or SmartThings hub to interact with a Wemo® Switch, it’s nice to know you can have a bit more control. An unofficial Python API  allows you to set up a small server and interact with switches on your terms.

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This “Internet of Things” is kind of a big deal

By | Enterprise Mobility, Technologies

IoT is a big deal

Eventually, most of my things will talk to the internet to make my life easier. My smoke detector will let me know when it needs batteries. Our house will let us know when it senses a tornado is coming. The thing I am most excited about is my car driving me to work. With so many applications and the continued price drops in sensors and processors, it is estimated that there will be 20.8 billion things on the network by 2020. Read More

All About Wearables – SuperNova South and Business RadioX

By | Enterprise Mobility, Technologies

Last week, BlueFletch Managing Partner Richard Makerson, had the honor of hosting a top-notch panel of experts on Wearables and the Worker at SuperNova South. Many thanks goes out to our very special panelists Steve Bachman, Bruce Rasa and Josh Waddell, who led a lively discussion on the current state of wearables in the enterprise and gave us insight into the challenges faced as well as their predictions for future iterations of the technology.IMG_4311

Rick moderator
As the founder of the start-up TEKWear and AGVoice, Bruce Rasa came to the topic with experience from the field. Josh Waddell, Global VP of Mobile Innovations with SAP gave us insight from the enterprise perspective and Steve Bachman, CEO of Hi Tech Partners, let us know what he sees on the horizon and what peaks his interest as an advisor, investor and entrepreneur.
As many of you already know, SuperNova South is the largest and longest running tech conference in the Southeast. With over 1500 people in attendance, from entrepreneurs to big box retailers, it’s a dynamic crowd super fired-up for the content-rich programs and events. And our panelists did not disappoint. 

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Rise of the Commercial Drone

By | Technologies

The unprecedented development of UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) or “drone” technology over the past few years has given birth to an extensive amount of potential revenue streams for current operators, from filmmaking all the way to agriculture. Unfortunately, the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) has struggled to keep up with this rapid pace of development, reflected by its currently inadequate regulation of UAV’s in America.

Under the current policy, UAV’s are classified as Model Aircraft and while operators are not required to obtain permission to fly, they are only allowed to operate within a recreational capacity. This classification strictly disallows operators from flying for any type of profit unless they can acquire a permit from the FAA allowing commercial use.

To date, less than fifty commercial licenses have been granted by the FAA and they have mainly gone to large companies that use the technology for aerial surveying. The FAA has, however, recently proposed a framework of regulations that will allow operators to fly under commercial circumstances.

drone1

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Connecting the Internet to IoT Things

By | Enterprise Mobility, Technologies

Internet-connected smart things are great, but what if you can’t get them connected to the information superhighway? Let’s explore some of the methods and interactions that put the “I” in IoT.

The Purchase.
You’ve watched crowdfunding videos, scoured the blogosphere for reviews, watched countless unboxing videos, screamed “shut up and take my money” into a computer and finally received this smart thing for your abode. Your palms begin to sweat as you meticulously reenact your favorite unboxing video.

Nest screwdriver

The Nest Thermostat comes with a fancy little screwdriver.

The Setup.
Don’t botch this; you’re doing good. With toolbelt on, you crawl under the house / tiptoe through the attic / climb a ladder and get the device installed. (Bonus points if the tools came in the box. Nest, I’m looking at you.) It’s wired to a wind-tunnel-tested wall wart and ready to talk to the mothership. You button up the install and hop off the ladder. Read More

EXPLORING WITH GOOGLE GLASS

By | Enterprise Mobility, Technologies

At BlueFletch we’re constantly evaluating new mobile technologies, both hardware and software, to see what advantages they can give our clients.  One of the more exciting mobile technologies that came out over the past year was Google Glass. With all of the buzz around it and with an almost equal number of skeptics and believers, we decided to try it out for ourselves.

What is Google Glass?

Google Glass is essentially a wearable computer.With the display above your right eye, it can becontrolled via voice commands or gestures.  You can opt to turn it on by tilting your head upward or by touching the side of the unit.  What’s nice is that it responds to multi-touch gestures and has sensors on the inside wall that detect when it is being worn and detects eye events.  It has built in Wi-Fi (that you can connect either using the MyGlass app or a browser) and Bluetooth to connect to your phone to make calls (and data outside of Wi-Fi coverage).  The most controversial component of Glass is the 5MP camera, which can be controlled via voice (or on the recent update, by wink).

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