If you haven’t noticed, digital voice assistants have become the rage over the past few years. More and more of them are residing in our homes. It is estimated that one out of every three homes in the United States has one.
However, less than half of those who have them use them. This is quite amazing when you think about it. This is like having a helicopter on your roof and never flying anywhere. So much capability available, yet it is never used.
However, this is understandable. We saw the same thing happen with social media. When Twitter first came out, it sat there on our computers – and we really didn’t know how it should be used – but now look at us!
What exactly is a digital voice assistant?
A digital voice assistant is a device that is driven by artificial intelligence (AI). The first one that most of us became aware of was “Siri,” created by Apple. Now, we have Amazon’s “Alexa,” Microsoft’s “Cortana,” and Google’s voice assistant.
These digital entities are web-connected software tools that listen and obey commands. They’ll answer questions, conduct research, turn on lights and appliances, order food for delivery, and set alarms.
Most of us are somewhat familiar with them as they come pre-installed on many smartphones. However, as a device in our homes, they appear as speakers or alarm clocks.
It is very common for people to have access to several digital voice assistants and not even know about them. In fact, you probably have more than one available to you at this moment.
Four great ways to use digital voice assistants
The biggest reason that many of us are not getting the most out of our digital voice assistants is that we don’t know what they can do for us. It is easy for creators of these AI devices to forget that we consumers don’t have the same visions that they do. We need some context to get going with them.
Let’s start learning by examining some cool ways to use them in our busy lives.
Keep shopping lists
All of us know how irritating shopping lists can be. Even more maddening is going to the store and forgetting to pick up something important – which is why need them in the first place.
Yet we make a list and leave it on the kitchen counter … can someone help us?!?
Yes, your digital voice assistance can help you with this.
Check this out. You’re at home and see that you need eggs. You say, “Alexa, put eggs on the shopping list.”
Then you go upstairs and see that you need dryer sheets. You pull out your phone, open the app and say, “Alexa, put dryer sheets on the shopping list.”
On the way home from work, you stop at the store. You open up your app, and there’s your list waiting for you: no pen and paper, no agonizing in your tired head trying to remember what you need.
Oh, wait!!!! You notice that your husband added coffee to the list, and your daughter added soy milk – you get those too.
Find your lost phone
How many times have you tried to hurry out the door for work or an engagement and can’t you’re your phone? Is this maddening or what?!?!
Wouldn’t it be great if someone could find it for you? Time for your digital voice assistant to rescue you.
All the basic assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Cortana can help you. However, it requires some set-up first. This little method will work with laptops and tablets too!
What you do is get your assistant to ring your phone until you can find it. In fact, they can do this even if your phone is in silent mode.
Here are the three basic steps required:
- Turn on location services in your phone’s setting app.
- Then ask your voice-activated home assistant, “where’s my phone?”
- Listen for the ring and find your phone!
Keep your hands-free while driving
Experts claim that one out of every four car crashes in the United States is caused by smartphones. Your digital voice assistant can make your life safer by allowing you to use your phone without laying a hand on it.
You give your assistant voice commands and let it carry out various tasks as you drive. Check out these potential commands you can provide while driving.
“Hey Siri, where’s the closest gas station?”
“Hey Google, please provide directions to Toledo.”
“Cortana, send this text message to Susan.”
Your app will take dictation and make calls for you. Just think, no more anxiety as you drive.
Manage your productivity at home
Would you like to save time by streamlining activities in the home? A very popular use for voice assistants is how they can utilize setting multiple timers.
Don’t you hate it during meals when you run out of timers while cooking different foods? No problem – your digital voice assistant will take care of that for you. The AI can easily track multiple timers while you concentrate on cooking.
Next, you can set alarms for waking you in the morning – and even have different alarms for every member of your family. If you have trouble sleeping, your assistant will play sounds like an ocean wave or light music to help you sleep.
Voice-activated assistants are excellent personal secretaries. Let them manage your calendar. Tell them to schedule your appointment – they ask you for a time and date and then remind you when it gets close.
And finally, they’ll jot down notes and a list of “to-do” items – which will be available on all of your computers and devices.