Only a tiny fraction of the $1 trillion grocery market has moved online. On-demand delivery is prohibitively expensive for retailers and it is extremely important for consumers to pick their own foods. For decades consumers have had the convenience of their local greengrocer, milkman, and ice-cream vendor coming door to door, yet it never made economic sense to scale – until now, by leveraging driverless technology.
This spring, Robomart, a California-based company is teaming up with grocery chain Stop & Shop for a trial run of their world’s first driverless grocery store service in Boston, Massachusetts. All the users of this service need to do is summon the mobile grocery store using a mobile app. When the store turns up outside their door, they can simply tap in a code on the vehicle to unlock its doors, grab what they like from the selection of everyday items and meal kits, and that’s it.
In summer 2018, Nuro, a tech startup, teamed up with supermarket giant Kroger for an autonomous grocery delivery service to customers in Scottsdale, Arizona. To use the service, customers had to place an order with Kroger via a smartphone app. Back at the depot, the staff loaded up the autonomous pod’s secure lockers with the customer order and sent it on its way. When the “R1” autonomous delivery pod arrived at the scheduled stop, the customer simply tapped in a code to open the locker and access their groceries.
A new Google and Disney partnership has brought Disney Storybooks to life. The next time you read out loud select Disney Little Golden Books, your Google Home will add sound effects and soundtracks to accompany the story as it is read aloud.
This new feature uses voice recognition to be able to tell when a reader has skipped ahead or gone back, and adjusts the sound effects accordingly. If the user pauses reading, ambient music will play until the user begins reading again. This feature works on Google Home, Home Mini, and Home Max speakers in the US. To activate the action, just say, “Hey Google, let’s read along with Disney.”
During the story, unlike with other typical commands, the smart speaker’s microphone will stay on so the device can follow along and add sound effects. To address privacy concerns, Google says it does not store the audio data after the story has been completed.
Voice computing is opening new possibilities for the retail industry, especially to inspire and interact with customers. So, this holiday season (2018), H&M decided to take the lead when it comes to shaping the voice commerce of the future and to have their customers be part of the journey.
H&M in USA launched the H&M HOME Gift Guide – an easy to use voice application filled with inspiration and ideas for different holiday gifts for anyone’s home available via the Google Assistant on all smartphones and Google Home smart devices. To activate the H&M HOME Gift Guide, users had to simply ask for H&M HOME from their Google Assistant and then easily browse through the H&M assortment to find the most suitable gift. The voice application also offered easy payment through voice.
H&M HOME initially announced the creation of a voice application, called H&M HOME Stylist, in June 2018. At that time, H&M said the voice stylist offered personal styling suggestions, mood boards and inspiration for every room in the home.
Hence the H&M Home Gift Guide is just a revamped version of H&M Stylist, prepped with Holiday themed products.
For the world premiere of their new Mercedes-Benz ECQ at CES 2019 in Las Vegas, Mercedes transformed their new model into a wedding carriage. Four lucky couples were invited to test drive the new Mercedes-Benz ECQ on the roads of Las Vegas and experience its special A.I. features first hand.
The war of the digital assistants just got a new entrant. IBM has recently revealed the Watson Assistant, that is designed for enterprises to use with their customer-facing applications. The video below shows some of the use cases that make the Watson Assistant I-VIE seem like an enhanced version of Alexa and Google Assistant put together, that eventually hopes to be more like J.A.R.V.I.S. from Iron Man.
What this reinforces is that while Alexa and Google Assistant have momentum with consumer use cases, enterprises have strong interest in having more control over the customer experience and data. So it comes as no surprise that Amazon introduced Alexa for Business in December 2017 and set its sights beyond the kitchens and bedrooms.
The battle for enterprise assistant market share is shaping up to be every bit as competitive as the current war for consumer voice assistant users.
The Moby Mart is set to turn every parking space in the world into a new 24-hour store. About the size of a small bus, the store carries a selection of everyday products like snacks, meals, basic groceries, and even shoes. To use the store, you have to download an app, register as a customer and use your smartphone to unlock the doors.
The store is currently undergoing trials in Shanghai, thanks to a collaborative effort between Swedish startup named Wheelys Inc and China’s Hefei University. For now, the trial prototype is stationery i.e. based permanently in a carpark. But the company says that it is currently working with tech companies to develop its self-driving technology as seen in the below video.
Mercedes-Benz has recently announced that all of its 2016 and 2017 vehicles in the US would now be able to connect with both Amazon and Google’s digital voice assistants.
With the help of this integration Mercedes owners can now instruct their Amazon Echo or Google Home to remotely start or lock their vehicles, as well as send addresses to their in-car navigation system. The video below however shows Mercedes-Benz creating an intelligent ecosystem around its cars with the help of cutting-edge technology.
Mercedes isn’t the first automaker to recognise the potential of artificially intelligent
third party digital voice assistants. At CES earlier this year, Ford unveiled its plan to roll out Alexa-equipped vehicles. Around the same time, Hyundai announced a new partnership with Google to add voice control through the Google Home.
Move over Alexa, Siri and Cortana. Gatebox is set to be the worlds first virtual home robot. Gatebox’s first character, “Azuma Hikari” is a fully interactive holographic girl, who at her most basic can control your smart home equipment. Additionally, she can recognize your face and your voice, and is designed to be a companion who can wake you up in the morning, fill you in on your day’s activities, remind you of things to remember, and even welcome you back when you return home from work.
Gatebox is currently availble for pre-order to customers who speak Japanese in Japan and USA for around $2,600 per unit. For more details visit gatebox.ai.