Bilingual Google Home Launches in Canada: Is your Brand Ready?

EVP Innovation North America
Valtech Canada

juni 29, 2017

Finally, a voice-activated technology will be officially available in Canada. Google Home is the first to overcome the bilingual hurdle that has held back Canadian versions.

Officially launched in Canada on Monday June 26th, it’s going to disrupt life at home as we know it. Canadian brands need to take notice. This is the time to get on board.

Fact is, consumers are really embracing voice activated technology. According to a survey by eMarketer, 35.6 million Americans use a voice activated assistant once a month. That’s a 128.9% increase over last year.

Affordable, Secure and Functional

It’s going to continue to grow. Voice-activation in your home is now affordable, accessible, secure, and useful. It’s more than just functional; it’s forcing humans to behave in a new way, re-inventing the way we interact with machines, our homes, and each other.

Sure, there are still some clunky aspects that need work, but overall this is a tremendous technology gaining more popularity with consumers by the second.

There are many good reasons to get on board early.

1 - Google Home is Accessible to All Consumers

It’s really accessible and not that expensive. It’s about $180 for a Google Home speaker--and the sound quality is extremely good. (Comparable to Amazon Echo.)

2 - Canadian Services can be accessed in both official languages on Google Home

Canadian brands can now launch a truly bilingual version of voice-activated functions. Both French and English-speaking Canadians will be able to access your voice activated brand functions, in their native language.

Example of “Allo” in text form on a smartphone.

Click here to see a video of Matt Aimonetti interacting with Google Home in Canadian French.

3 - Google Home can display information on-screen through Google Chromecast

This is unique to Google Home and eliminates the pains of voice-reply for all responses. You might not want Google Home to recite the last 5 emails you received, but you would find it extremely useful for Google to display them without needing to click on your screen while making your coffee. Need to watch a quick refresher video on how to roll sushi or want to see the highlights of the hockey game? Just ask, “Google, show me the best moments from the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.” It displays, while you continue to stir the pot, do your morning exercise routine, or feed the baby.

4 - Individual Voice Security is launching in the next few months

Google Home can recognize your voice specifically. That means, when your daughter asks Google Home “Where is my soccer game today?” It will check her calendar. When mom asks for her bank balance, it will check with her bank account-- her daughter will not be able to access that information. Each member of your family can be identified by their voice. Each voice is associated to their own phone, calendar, mail. This is a major bonus for personalization, for shared integration in multi-user environments.

5 - Several core services already integrated for users to get used to the new technology

You can already order pizza, order an uber, find out the weather, get the latest news report from CBC / Radio Canada. These core useful services are integrated at launch. Consumers are learning to use voice-activation with these services, and will be ready for more complex usage in the near future.

These core services are introducing the new habit of ordering services via voice. Once consumers are accustomed to it (and they will be soon), there’s a big opportunity for brands that are ready.

6 - Voice Recognition Devices can be installed throughout the home

While we’ve seen that the kitchen is the most popular place for one of these devices, they can be installed throughout the home. Soon, a Google Home or Alexa will become a natural part of a home, like a house pet. Marin, one of my experts at Valtech predicts that “Google Home will be the smartest house pet you will ever have, and you don’t even have to pick up after it!”

“Google Home will be the smartest house pet you will ever have, and you don’t even have to pick up after it!”

The Challenges

At Valtech Canada, we’ve been playing with and experimenting with different uses for voice-activated technologies for over a year now in our Innovation lab. We’ve built prototypes and offered support for many industries and have developed a number of voice-activated skills including banking, grocers, luxury brands, media companies such as CBC / Radio Canada.

Along the way, we’ve discovered how incredibly well this technology works, while also uncovering some of its limitations. Our expert Eve Larchelière talks about some of the challenges of teaching bots to talk naturally in this article on Venturebeat.

We encourage Canadian brands to get on board early, to learn as the technology grows. It is accelerating at a phenomenal rate. Getting on board early is not only about education, but also helpful to planning your digital libraries in order to seize the greatest opportunities from the technology.

Getting on board early helps long-term planning, and preparation.

One of the limitations we’ve discovered is that if your media archive is not well indexed, it cannot be searched using voice commands. With voice, you don’t have a screen, to show the 4 different related items that you might actually be looking for. All media needs to be well tagged and indexed for voice search.

For the short term, offer simple services, expand as the technology improves, as consumers get used to living with the new technology, and incorporating new behaviours in their lives. Do it slowly, well researched, and do it right. Get your assets in position to maximize the experiences for the users.

Amazon Echo is currently more popular in the US, but Google Home is gaining ground quickly offering highly personalized service for customers with a Google profile. For now, Amazon Echo is not officially available in Canada.

Not sure how to integrate your brand to Google Home? Valtech can help you think about the opportunities. It’s possible that this technology is not useful to your brand; but perhaps this is the opportunity your brand has been waiting for.

Call us to consult. We encourage you to come visit our innovation lab, and explore the possibilities. For more reasons to start experimenting with no interface technology, read my last article, Cut the Clicking; Talk to Brands by Voice Command.

In the meantime, we’d like to say:

Welcome to Canada, Google Home.

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