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EDITOR’S NOTE | ‘Ok Google, what’s next?’

DSC 5915Since Apple’s Siri began chatting to us in 2011, the virtual digital assistant market has exploded, and its adoption in property is beginning to build, writes Kirsty Butcher.

This market is predicted to reach $15.8bn and 1.8bn users across the world in the next 3 years, as reported in our TRENDS Q2 report.

Most of the tech giants have launched their own assistants, which have quite literally become household names: Microsoft’s Cortana in 2014, Amazon’s Alexa later that year, Google Assistant in 2016. These voices follow many of us throughout our day – in our homes, on our phones, in our cars, and increasingly in our workplaces – piping up with helpful and, at times, very unhelpful information.

The use of these voice-activated assistants in property has begun to take off, with the aim of improving efficiency and end-user experience. Tenants and landlords of Vesper-managed properties now receive an Amazon Echo Dot, at which they can channel all their maintenance requests and questions (and frustrations). Guests at Marriott Hotels can now ask Alexa for information about their stay and for room service.

This is artificial intelligence in action in our lives, and as we become increasingly connected to our objects and buildings, the power of this intelligence is set to move usage of these digital assistants beyond the novelty factor to the genuinely useful.

As Rand Hindi, CEO of AI firm Snips, commented at MIPIM PropTech Europe in Europe, AI has the ability to make tech completely ubiquitous and frictionless to the point where we won’t even notice it.

Thanks to Machine Learning, accuracy and comprehension are improving rapidly – with the awe-inspiring Google Duplex demonstrating in May how human-like, and frankly unsettling, conversations with virtual assistants can be.

I’m looking forward to seeing more creative uses and developments emerging in property, as we see just how powerful these chatterboxes can be.

  • Kirsty Butcher is production manager at PlaceTech, standing in for editor Paul Unger as he kicks his feet up on holiday

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