Everyone seems to have a preferred voice assistant, be it Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri. Yet, that hasn’t stopped others from wanting to break into the field of dedicated users. Microsoft tried to make a splash with Cortana for Windows but have recently pulled back on its reach.
Despite this, the BBC, the British media company, has decided to enter this limited field. They are introducing their own voice assistant: Beeb in 2020. The thought is that it will provide BBC fans “a whole new way to interact with BBC programs and services,” according to the company.
The company has already begun sourcing voices internally at its U.K. offices so that it can learn different accents.
Unlike Siri, Alex, and Google Assistant, Beeb will not be offering hardware to go along with it. However, it will be designed to be used on other voice-activated devices, including smart speakers, TVs, etc. However, whether the more popular devices owned by Amazon, Apple, and Google would be willing to utilize Beeb is questionable.
The plan is for the wake word for Beeb to be its name, “Beeb,” leading to another question of how it would work on other devices that already have a different wake word.
The BBC has had its services included on voice-controlled smart devices for years, but having its own dedicated voice assistant would allow it to offer more “without someone else’s permission to build it in a certain way.”
“Around one in five adults have a smart speaker in their home — and millions more have voice-activated devices in their pockets — so there is growing demand from people to access programs and services with their voice,” said a BBC spokesperson.
“But people are concerned about how these devices use their data. Much like we did with BBC iPlayer, we want to make sure everyone can benefit from this new technology and bring people exciting new content, programs, and services — in a trusted, easy-to-use way.”
While there are no announced plans for hardware to work with Beeb, last June the media company announced another product, BBC Box, “a physical device in the person’s home onto which personal data is gathered from a range of sources, although of course (and as mentioned above), it is only collected with the participant’s explicit permission and processed under the person’s control.”
It would seem Beeb would be a natural fit for BBC Box, and once again they seem to be placing a great focus on privacy, though voice assistants and their dedicated devices are currently under fire for storing recordings and sharing them with third parties, and the company does not make it clear how they will avoid that trap.
Would you be interested in yet another voice assistant, one that is attached to a media company such as the BBC and Beeb? What would it do to the IoT and smart-home landscape to have multiple voice assistants for different services? Tell us your thoughts and concerns in the comments below.