Technophile

Do you need a smart speaker?

Mala Bharghava | Updated on: Apr 18, 2018
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You may never know. Technology creates new needs and demands

The world is increasingly filled with technology we never needed — until we started using it. Newer products come along with some small conveniences that seem quite needlessly fussy and overkill. But then, after a while of using those products or features, we find ourselves wondering how we ever got by without them.

In fact, the smartphone of today grew up in exactly the same way. A phone was meant for calling and a few words of text. But touch screens came along and so did the internet and everything changed until that calling gadget became as powerful as a computer.

You’ll find gadgets like that all around. Take wireless chargers. Why even bother with them and why be so lazy about plugging in a phone to charge? While that’s true enough, the tiny convenience of just dropping the phone on to a disk without fiddling with wires that can be kept neatly out of sight became a much-wanted feature for many.

In much the same way, there’s no reason why you absolutely need to have a smart speaker. But now that they’re here and aren’t wildly expensive, users buy them and begin to find them convenient and enjoyable. Before you know it, they would miss their presence. The convenience of asking a question while you’re doing something else, just telling the music to play without having to switch on anything or even make a move, or just amusing yourself with silly conversation, have all made speakers fit into the ‘like-to-have’ category.

With the Google Home speakers, it’s even more tricky because the phone houses the Google Assistant as well. If you set it up, OK Google will call it up any time even if the device’s screen is turned off, and you can ask it to do much the same things as you would the smart speaker, except that the speaker is bigger and gives you more sound for music.

But that volume, and the fact that you can place it anywhere in the house independently of the phone, gives it a new type of usage, one that can involve everyone in the home. “Tell me a bedtime story,” for example would be a delight for the toddler being tucked into bed and the adult who’s run out of tales to tell. And it would be louder and more present than the sound that would come out of a phone.

A smart speaker, once set up, is also rather nice for the elderly and those who aren’t tech savvy, as all they need to do is speak to it without fiddling with any device.

Published on April 19, 2018

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