Why GN and Amazon want you to talk more, and think about them less

GN News

Oct 11, 2019

Find out how GN is working with Amazon behind the scenes to cut down screen time and do away with mundane tasks, so you can free up more quality time.

You might put a limit on your kids’ screen time, but how long do you spend on your phone each day? Between email, social media, text messages, and games, how does your daily dose of smartphone screen time compare with the average of 3 hours and 15 minutes (yes, that means almost 23 hours – or a full day – per week)?

If you’ve just opened Apple’s Screen Time, Google’s Digital Wellbeing or monitoring apps like RescueTime and been alarmed by your own daily stat, you’re not alone.

After years of overconsumption of apps and social media, many of us are becoming tired of the constant stream of pop-up notifications and ‘Swipe to refresh’ comparisons that commandeer our every waking moment. In our off time, we search for calm within the hectic pace of life, seeking an hour or even a whole luxurious afternoon with no intrusions and time-sucking distractions.

Person staring at iPhone screen

Transparent technology that helps us, not distracts us

As tempting as it may be to switch off altogether, our reliance on technology is much greater than we think, and disconnecting can make even simple tasks nigh on impossible.

But what if we didn’t have to disconnect to be more present? What if we could find a middle way, where technology helps us use our time better, while it recedes into the background?

There are many things in life that can be done smarter if we’re clever about it. An easy one? Using one of the oldest, most human tools we have: our voice.

Why the tech giants are investing big in audio

There’s a reason the tech giants – Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft – are investing big in audio technology and voice user interface (UI). Like GN, they see its potential for navigating the vast array of online services which can help make people’s lives easier. Audio devices, like the Jabra Elite series, do much more than play music, and these capabilities will only extend as artificial intelligence (AI) is implemented even further in future hearables.

And that’s where voice comes in.

More talk, less type: how speaking cuts down on scrolling

It’s faster to talk than type, and it’s accessible. If your hands are full because you’re driving, or holding children or groceries, or typing just isn’t intuitive because you’re not comfortable with a small handheld screen, speaking to your digital assistant Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant means you can do what you need to do, hands-free and unimpeded.

Alexa, how many ways can you help me today?

More than 70,000, in fact. From turning your lights and heating on, ordering an Uber or pizza, to playing a specific genre of music or re-ordering pet food, there are tens of thousands of things you can get done without glancing at your phone or flicking a switch. 

Amazon – one of the world’s biggest companies – believes that in the future, many more digital services will be commanded by voice, rather than fingers. That’s why it pours millions of dollars into developing its digital assistant Alexa. 

From the more than 47 million Alexa-enabled Echo smart speakers installed in people’s homes, Amazon has plenty of insights into what people use digital assistants for during the third of their day when they’re at home. Therefore, they know what further Alexa skills to develop for the home. But what they’re not so clear on is what people do once they step out the door.

That’s where GN comes in.

GN's expertise in headsets means we know what people need while they're on the go, and can advise major players like Amazon on how to further develop their digital assistant skills

Advising Amazon leaders and developers

GN’s broad and decades-long experience in consumer and professional headsets and hearing aids means we know what people need when they leave the house, whether they’re out running or walking in the street, in their car commuting home, on the train or at work. As a third-party in the Alexa supplier network, we give input at Amazon’s Alexa Voice Services (AVS) Summit, where we contribute our deep insights towards the development of further Alexa skills people can use while out and about. Our input ranges from bigger picture insights to practical advice around what types of sounds should be played when Alexa wakes up, or how long the pause should be between waking up and the first command.

On a crisp morning in Las Vegas, in January this year, GN leaders took an hour out from the world’s biggest annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) to sit down with Amazon. It’s an annual meeting between GN and Amazon, but it’s the first specifically with Dave Limp, SVP, Devices & Services, one of Amazon’s leadership team who reports directly to Jeff Bezos. Dave wants to know where the future of audio is headed, and he wants to hear it from GN, because he knows we produce premium products, and our unique company construction of medical, consumer and enterprise audio solutions under one roof means we see audio across categories.

Consumer Electronic Show opening crowd

At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) earlier this year, GN leaders met with Dave Limp, SVP, Devices & Services at Amazon, to advise on the future of audio

Better tech so you don’t have to think about it 

While the background work of developing voice technologies may sound complex and high-level (and it is), the important thing to remember is that this complex work stays in the background. Technology developers like GN and Amazon work hard to ensure that as devices become more and more advanced, they don’t become more complicated for users. 

In a world where technology is so deeply embedded in our daily lives, it doesn’t have to take up more of our time and focus. The point of designing digital assistant skills or AI-powered audio in headsets is so that people can cut out or simplify the mundane tasks, to ultimately free up more time for what really matters: family, productive work, and human interaction. If we’re smart about using technology to help us, rather than intrude on us, then it turns out that we don’t need to disconnect to re-engage.

Source: Screen time stats 2019: Here’s how much you use your phone during the workday, RescueTime