With various consumer electronics companies and related firms investing heavily in artificial intelligence technologies, the market for wireless speakers that let those systems talk to users is poised to expand dramatically. According to a new Gartner report, the market for virtual personal assistant (VPA)-enabled wireless speakers is expected to grow from $0.72 billion last year to $3.52 billion by 2021.
The market is already enjoying something of a boom right now thanks to the emergence of various competitors to Amazon’s pioneering Echo devices, which led the way in familiarizing consumers with voice-powered AI assistants for the smart home. Google has just launched new versions of its Google Home devices, for example, and Samsung and even Facebook are expected to launch their own such offerings in the coming months.
But these aren’t the kinds of devices that are going to lead growth in this market, according to Gartner’s forecast – in fact there’s going to be a bit of slump next year in which market growth will slow down while “other devices, such as lighting systems, hubs and Wi-Fi mesh devices, adopt VPA functionality, especially in connected home scenarios,” as Gartner research director Werner Goertz put it in a report summary. Then, in 2019, enterprise adoption will revitalize the market as the hospitality and remote healthcare sectors embrace the technology, with the latter ecosystem helping to subsidize reductions in costs as an aging population receives care from smart devices in the home.
Meanwhile, educational efforts and the growing popularization of smart home speaker devices will help to ease anxieties in the mass market over privacy concerns with respect to always-on AI devices, which in turn will further increase demand in the consumer sector, according to Gartner’s report. AI assistants already play a part in many consumers’ lives, and those roles are just going to get bigger over the next few years.