How Google Will Get People Talking To Their Smart Homes

For starters, it hired writers from Pixar and The Onion

Oct 11, 2016 at 4:08 PM ET

Voice recognition is widely seen as one of tech’s most promising innovations, and companies are always working to make their respective voice assistant technologies better. One such trick companies employ is to give a voice assistant a bit of personality to make interactions less intimidating. And in the case of Google, it’s working hard to give its voice assistant a sense of humor.

The Wall Street Journal recently revealed that Google hired writers from the Onion and Pixar to inject personality into its voice assistant (which will feature prominently in its Google Home line of IoT products). The company was short on details, but Google Home product manager Gummi Hafsteinsson said that along with understanding things like delivery and tone of voice, Google’s long term plan is to create products that users can build an emotional connection with.

While voice assistants still have a long way to go as fluid conversational partners, Amazon revealed to the Wall Street Journal that percentage of “non-utilitarian” Amazon Echo interactions was “well into the double digits,” indicating that there’s merit to putting time and effort into the presentation of voice assistants. An easy way to do that is give these robot voices personalities, and the ability to participate in humorous banter is part of that.