• Published:
  • Under: Interactive Design

Night Stand Checklist:

  • Water glass [check]
  • Non-thrilling book that will lull me to sleep [check]
  • iPhone to check Instagram before bed instead of a book [check]
  • Ask Alexa to wake me up at 7 AM [check]

It’s not news that smartphones are prolific. Reaching for your phone is just as instinctual as grabbing your keys before you leave home. An essential tool to navigating our everyday lives, they have surpassed landlines, periodicals, televisions and computers as our most used communication tools. They are our external brains, our third arms, our lifelines—providing us with on-demand answers to solve debates, last minute recipes while pushing a shopping cart around the grocery store and re-routed directions to circumvent traffic to get to our destination faster.

However, as natural as it is for a smartphone to be attached to our hand, we are in the midst of the next digital evolution with audio taking a step ahead. Audio (and now visual) smart assistants are quickly evolving from a phone feature our thumbs accidently activate to a daily tool critical to bringing convenience to our lives.

Those of you who have been elbow deep in flour and dough while making homemade pizza crust understand the value of being able to ask Alexa for the next step in the recipe rather than touching your iPhone to activate the screen. But did you know you can use them to turn on the lights, order an Uber and refresh your toilet paper supply? While it may seem strange at first, voice commands are about as natural of an action as you can get.  

So while, there is skepticism around the usefulness of a pod such as Alexa sitting around an apartment, much of the CHIEF team has already come to embrace it. Here is how we use smart assistants beyond asking for a joke or querying Tide on how to get out our coffee stains:

  • Amanda Nguyen gets her morning download by running through Alexa’s Flash Briefings. Her arsenal includes Washington Post’s The 202, NPR Up First and New York Times’ The Daily
  • Emily Gallt has a continuous stream of her favorite podcasts and figures out which sneakers to toss on by checking the weather
  • Lindsay Zoeller decides whether to drive or take the Metro by asking Alexa’s “Is Metro on Fire” Skill if, well, the Metro is on fire
  • Marc Rambeau drowns out city noises as he calls it a night with Sleep Sounds
  • Alexis Findiesen educates herself by asking for definitions, who people are and getting the news right alongside setting timers for cooking and alarms for getting up early in the morning

With Amazon seizing the opportunity to put the power of voice in all types of devices such as smart glasses and home security cameras, we expect to see interactive audio capabilities integrated more and more. These devices will simply be routine....or maybe they already are.

Tell us, what skills do you use to get through the day?