They can already play music, receive the news, and control appliances at home. Soon, virtual voice assistants will also be able detect if someone is ill.
In the next decade, smart speakers like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant will be able to detect oncoming illnesses and chronic conditions before they occur by listening to the user’s voice, breathing and heart rate.
Vodafone has released a report that predicts what consumer technology will look in 2030. Vodafone believes we will wear devices that let us control gadgets with our brains, have digitally connected trees that analyse the air quality and stare into smart mirrors that detect skin conditions.
According to the report, which was co-written by the consultancy The Future Laboratory, consumers will expect technology as a key tool for monitoring their health. The report predicts that smart assistants can spot signs of Parkinson’s disease from voice analysis alone. This is similar to how temperature is an indicator for fever.
The report says that artificial intelligence embedded in your devices will not only tell you when you feel unwell but will also assess vital measurements in real-time — including heart rate and respiratory rate — to help predict and prevent chronic conditions.
Google filed a patent in 2018 for a smart speaker. It could detect if a user is coughing, sneezing, and so forth.
At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, start-ups offered lightbulbs that could monitor body temperature and floorboards which could analyze a user’s weight change.
Martin Raymond, cofounder of Future Laboratory, stated that tech companies are working on smart mirrors which could detect changes in skin colour and alert an accompanying app if the app determines that the user should consult a doctor.
These devices can also be connected to other wi-fi enabled appliances in the home, as well as smartwatches or phones to create a picture of someone’s health and send health recommendations if necessary.
According to the report, voice control devices such as our microphones will soon be replaced by mind-reading devices embedded in smartwatches or headphones. These devices will be able to detect brain signals and provide commands without the need for people to speak. A Synchron brain implant was used to transmit a tweet by a man with motor neurone Disease, aged 62, in December 2013.
Neuralink, a brain-reading company owned by Elon Musk, the Tesla car designer, released a video last spring showing a monkey playing video with its mind using a chip in its brain.
Facebook has created a wrist device that can read neurological signals and send them to the hands. This allows you to move objects in videogames.
According to the report, nature will be connected by 2030 with sensors placed on trees that analyse the environment and transmit the data to conservationists.