The recent emergence of digital-assistant products has consumers asking Alexa or Google to perform tasks and provide information in every room of their home. The first products introduced in late 2014, and still dominating the nascent market today, were smart speakers (also called artificial-intelligence [AI] speakers). Smart speakers combine a wireless speaker system with an AI platform; initially, their primary function was to stream music from the cloud. In the past two years, smart speakers have added displays; cameras; streaming video; and home-automation control of lights, climate and security systems.
The emergence of this smart-home ecosystem (Fig. 1) has resulted in a significant redundancy of smart devices throughout the home. However, recent additional functionality such as displays and home-automation control has led to form factors that start to appear as if they are suited for specific rooms of the house—although not yet optimized for the specific needs of each individual room. The market is approaching a tipping point, where smart speakers need to become targeted to specific rooms and coexist with other room-optimized speakers.