It probably all started with Siri … I mean the widespread/mainstream usage for AI powered personal assistants. The space is growing rapidly and the introduction of Amazon’s Echo showed that this is indeed a very promising market segment. All the large tech players are entering or planning on entering this space with more and improved devices.
Here is a review of the current popular systems we can currently pick from. If I am missing a device, please use the form below to submit it.
This document is not done (and never will be). I will keep maintaining it based on new developments in the marketplace and also user contributions to this page.
Magic Quadrant for Artificial Intelligence Powered Personal Assistants
This magic quadrant highlights a couple of main players in the AI powered PA segment. I will keep updating it over time too.
If you would like to suggest additions or modifications for this magic quadrant, please use the form below.
Amazon has fairly high ambitions with the Echo, but as a retailer it’s primary focus will be on monetising the system via it’s purchasing abilities. Echo skills can be developed by anyone and the technology is open enough to be integrated into other manufacturer’s products (like cars, fridges, phones, etc.).
Where the Echo falls short is on the actual NLP (natural language processing, i.e. speech recognition) which is not as good as the Google NLP and the responses provided by the AI (again Google is far better at that).
Google Home/Google Assistant
Google is the leader in the space of speech recognition as well as a dominant leader in providing high quality responses to user queries. Where Google also shines is the integration of it’s assistant in the Google app on mobile devices. Incidentally the assistant sometimes also kicks in when users actually type a query into the search feature of the app.
Google’s vision from day one has been very strong in regards to the requirements of a personal assistant, as well as it’s compute & research ability to advance AI. There is still a lot of room for Google to grow its AI capabilities.
Facebook’s ambitions in this space might be low (or unknown) but the amount of data Facebook has paired with it’s compute capabilities make it well poised to enter the space with an outright assistant (which could be really personal, as Facebook has the best set of your personal data, compared to the other players). Limited forays into chat bots don’t quite cover what people really need in a personal assistant, but I bet there is a lot more to come.
Siri is constantly getting better but still rather clumsy at times. At the current rate it doesn’t look like Siri will catch up with Alexa (the AI behind Echo) or Google’s assistant anytime soon.
Another limiting factor for Apple is it’s desire to keep your data out of the cloud, meaning that any AI capability directly related to your personal data has to be on device, rather than in the cloud.
What can I say about Samsung? They have a designated hardware button on their new phone for “Bixby”, their Siri counterpart, but it does nothing – and apparently that won’t change anytime soon as Bixby is not even going to be available in English for the foreseeable future.
Samsung will struggle to get the data it needs for machine learning to achieve good enough quality on the NLP side of things as well as the knowledge base used for responses to user requests.
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AI Powered Personal Assistants on Amazon
Here are a couple of the products mentioned above.