Predictive Analytics In Our Everyday Life

I just finished reading the book, Predictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie or Die by Eric Siegel.  My friend who is a data analyst recommended it to me and I enjoyed it thoroughly.  The Afterword described the first hour of 2022.  It included your navigator predicting traffic delays and suggesting alternate routes.  Your car tells you that it needs maintenance.  A recommender system suggests a place to eat breakfast en-route to work.  You are able to search the internet using your voice.  Sound familiar?  We don’t have to wait for 2022, we have these technologies today. A lot of them are accessible using our mobile devices, Google Home, and/or Amazon Echo.  Predictive Analytics is already in our everyday life!

I am not an early adopter.  I don’t need to have every new gadget that becomes available.  The idea of a connected home scares me – even if the predictive analytics that drives it fascinates me.  But the newly released Google Home intrigued the big data nerd in me.  Imagine being able to talk to the internet!  Asking Google to wake you up at a certain time, to tell you about your commute and the weather while you prepare for work.  All this data instantly available – wow!

“But what about Alexa?” this little voice in my head teased.  “Don’t you want to compare their user interface?” it tempted the UX geek in my brain.  The Echo Dot made Alexa so affordable. And I have this awesome bluetooth speaker (that while old still sounds great) to connect it to.  Plus, Alexa connected to so many applications – it was a shame not to play with it.

They were both on sale last Black Friday.  So now you would hear me talking to Alexa in my living/dining room and saying “Hey, Google!” in my bedroom.

The Quick Comparison

Installation

Both Google Home and Alexa were easy to install.  All you need to do is:

  1. Plug them into an outlet
  2. Download the corresponding app
  3. Connect them to your wireless network

Comprehension

English is not my first language and I was concerned that Google or Alexa will not understand me.  But this was not an issue at all!

Skills

I find myself drawn to Alexa more because of the sheer number of skills it has.  I particularly love how it can read my Kindle books to me.  I found it frustrating that adding an event to Google Calendar is still not possible on Google Home when the Quick Events skill does this in Alexa.

Smarts

Is Google Home smarter?  Maybe.  I have gotten answers from Google Home that Alexa could not give me.  I find it easier to ask for NFL game schedules and scores for specific teams on Google Home for example.  It gave me theme park hours when I asked.  But then there were a few times when Alexa had the answer and Google didn’t.  Google and Alexa seemed to favor one theme park over another (Disneyland vs Universal Studios).

Connected Home

I am still waiting for a sale to try Google and Alexa with Philips Hue.  I am curious to see which interface connects to smart home gadgets better.  Alexa connects to more gadgets than Google Home so it still has a slight advantage there.

Feedback

Feedback points goes to Alexa.  Google Home does not have a way to accept feedback yet.  At least the Alexa app will display a history of everything you asked and you can click a button to acknowledge that Alexa’s response was correct.  If there is no feedback then how can Google Home learn to respond to questions better?

Social Graces

It’s a tie on this front. They both say they don’t know how to help or it can not do a certain skill yet.  I think there was an Alexa bug where it used to just light up & die without replying.

 

Predictive analytics.  Data on demand.  Talking to the internet.  Shopping via voice commands.  There are so many possibilities!  Both Alexa and Google Home have software development kits to add third-party skills and/or actions to its repertoire.  As a web developer, this makes me very very happy.  More ways to play for me!

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