Smart speakers help people who live alone feel less lonely, survey finds | Smart speakers | Jobs Reply

Smart speakers help people who live alone feel less lonely and give some disabled people a stronger sense of independence, according to new Ofcom research.

During an in-depth survey of 100 owners and 15 non-owners who tested a smart speaker, several described their device as a companion and said they liked being able to talk to it.

Some disabled respondents said it had a significant impact on their lives, giving them more independence and helping them manage, and even improve, their conditions and abilities.

One said: “The difference is maintaining independence around the house … my carers don’t have to keep getting up every five minutes.

“Like this evening, I was able to ask him to turn on these lights. Years ago, before I had that facility … I would have to ask people to do things by hand.”

The latest data from Ofcom shows that ownership of smart speakers has almost doubled during the pandemic, rising from 22% of households in 2020 to 39% earlier this year.

Research participants said they mainly used their smart speakers to listen to music, radio, news and weather updates.

The latest industry figures show that 13% of all radio listening hours are now through smart speakers.

People generally felt that they listened to the radio more than they did before and said that their smart speaker was able to listen to a wider range of stations.

Ofcom figures also said that 27% of smart speaker owners now get their news from their devices.

Most, however, said they use their smart speakers for instant headlines but still turn to TV, print or online for more in-depth news.

Opinions were mixed on how much people liked their devices to personalize their content, some appreciated the feature while others found it annoying.

People who don’t have a smart speaker said they didn’t see the point or saw it as a luxury rather than a necessity. A few were worried about terror and this was exacerbated when their speaker was talking at times despite no one using the wake word.

Others speculated that criminals could use smart speakers to steal data, bank details or identities through hacking, saying they had heard examples of other technologies such as baby monitors and routers being hacked.

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