A thought struck me the other day when my husband was teasing me that I love my Alexa voice assistant because she is the only thing that listens to me when I am at home.
We had been chatting on hands-free and, at the mention of her name, Alexa responded.
That’s when I realised Alexa will one day help solve some heinous crime committed against a woman at home alone. Someone with only Alexa for company.
You see, Alexa is always listening, waiting for her name to be said. It’s the same with Siri and Google Home. Say the phrase that pays – “Alexa”, “Hey Siri”, “OK Google” – and they start logging each word that tumbles from your mouth.
So put yourself in that lonely woman’s shoes. There’s no time to dial a phone, there’s nowhere to run, she’s not sure if she will live or die. But Alexa’s there for her. “Alexa,” she screams. “He’s male, he’s white, he’s …” and the description pours out, clues for the detectives who will probe the crime. Perhaps she could even ask Alexa to call the police. Perhaps Amazon could include that in an update.
On Channel 4’s Celebrity Hunted, they used Made in Chelsea star Jamie Laing’s Alexa searches to help track him down – why couldn’t police do the same with a killer?
A few of years ago, this would have sounded far-fetched – that a talking computer would listen to us and respond to our needs. But think how quickly the gesture-controlled touchscreen tablets of Minority Report went from sci-fi to your local branch of Currys. Now, we are listened to by handheld devices and table-top tech everywhere we go. Alexa and Co squirrel the data away. Your web searches are remembered, tracked and result in customised and personalised responses that appear to be spookily based on what you were just talking about.
But remember that Alexa is not some benevolent deity, serving up the location of your nearest Indian takeaway or belting out your Top 10 ABBA Tracks Playlist for free. She is there to make money – for Amazon and anyone else who spots the opportunity she affords them – without you realising it. Amazon and Google know voice-search technology (like Alexa) is the conduit for sales. It’s the middle-man that allows you to add your favourite Amazon product to your grocery list for instant purchase.
Already, 20 per cent of Google searches are performed by voice from a standing start when Siri launched six years ago. That figure will only rise in a transformation akin to the arrival of mobile searches. Knowing how to optimise your website, and making sure your product is featured at the top of Amazon and Google search results is where we come in.
Typed search terms are more precise than those using voice. Think how different your post on Facebook is to the story you tell your pals. Think of all those ums and ehs, and how you ask your phone a question instead of typing in a few keywords.
It’s our job to answer the questions your customers ask – before they are asked. We mine analytics data, picking out the voice search terms that will give your business a boost.
Alexa may one day be a key witness to a murder. But we’re already witnessing – and driving - a revolution of the internet age.
We know how to use the latest technological innovations to a brand's advantage. Contact us now for more details on 0800 612 9890.