The smart speaker has become one of the most popular gadgets. It is already a regular in thousands of homes and some reports place it as one of the key pieces that will structure the smart home. That is, he will speak for us, he will communicate with the rest of the gadgets without us being forced to be the executing center of the action.

Yes, we had to wait. Not because the technology was green. But because the assistants spoke English. Luckily, this 2018 has marked the starting signal for the rebirth of this gadget.

In any case, giants of the industry such as Google, Apple and Microsoft have been driving their own models for years and other titans of commerce are doing the same. As Alibaba with Tmall Genie. Some speak in Mandarin, others in Spanish, but they are all ideal for videoconferences, listening to our albums in iTunes or asking them if tomorrow it will rain.

What is a ‘smart speaker’?

Before going on, we can differentiate smart speakers from simple Bluetooth players. While the seconds are limited to being monitors to play the synchronized device audio. Whether they are incoming calls or music from any platform. The former bet for an integral service where they can be a musical source but also a voice assistant. In effect, like Siri or Cortana, although inside a speaker. A plus of intelligence in the form of hardware.

In the first segment we would have examples like Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple HomePod or Eufy Genie. In the second plot we would have from the classic 20 euros pool speaker to small gems. ike Harman Kardon Go + Play, B & O Play, Bose SoundLink Revolve or Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin.

Likewise, it should be noted that there is a third family that pushes the smart properties of the first while at the same time betting on the sound quality and acoustic versatility of the latter. In this group we can include models such as Sonos One, UE MegaBlast or Samsung Multiroom 360º R7.

On the other hand, it is not convenient to forget the synchronization between devices. More advanced speakers can separate music by services, channels or be treated as joint systems. For example, the JBL Connect + speaker allows you to link up to 100 speakers wirelessly. It is a way to keep the entire home on sound while we manage each speaker independently from the mobile app itself. Playing in each one different songs and different volumes. It is what is usually called “sessions”.

Current technology for future uses

Most of these systems take advantage of wireless connectivity. This feature makes them ideal for planting them on the countertop of the kitchen and enjoying a playlist of Spotify. And then leave them on the desk in the office to ask about time, phone numbers, scheduled tasks, mathematical operations or questions related to information that can be obtained from the Internet. It would be almost like having a living Wikipedia.

As for its internal technology, intelligent speakers take a step forward in hardware by integrating advanced chipsets. They require more computing power because they do not concentrate their muscle in processing and playing the audio. But they analyze our words and link us with shopping portals or directly help us place orders.

The synchronization is usually carried out through Wi-Fi network or wired network through Ethernet port, NFC or Bluetooth. The current standard v4.2 and the imminent Bluetooth 5.0 guarantee identical quality to the CD. They also have security protocols (SSP, Secure Simple Pairing) and adaptive transfer systems depending on the audio quality that we select.

A smarter mediacenter

This plural capacity makes them ideal candidates for different use scenarios. For example, the manufacturer could bet on speakers that support the sound of the television. In addition to tune the smartphone audio, radio and have USB ports for old MP4 players.

In any case, our smartphone will be the usual control center. The arrival of Google Assistant has made things easier than ever. Because it is not the same to navigate the stormy sea of Spotify looking for something new that excites our ears. That simply saying to the speaker “plays my David Bowie collection.”

If we add the job possibilities of the speaker, such as answering calls, entering data in the agenda, solving simple questions such as multiplications or asking how some words are pronounced in other languages, this gadget still has a lot to say. And for listening, of course.


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