Smart digital assistants: an introduction to voice computing with Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant

Date(s) - 01/18/2018
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm



The Amazon Echo, with its “Alexa” voice personality is one of the most popular digital assistants available. These days major technology companies are competing to create the best voice computing platforms. Google has “Google Assistant,” Apple “Siri,” and Amazon “Alexa.” There are others, but we’ll focus on these three in this introduction to voice computing.

These digital assistants can do many things, such as play music, play audiobooks, play radio stations, play podcasts, answer factual questions, tell stories, and control devices in your home (thermostats, lights, and more). Some of these products include cameras and screens for blending the best of voice and visual computing.

One of the reasons to keep up with this technology is that it’s improving quickly, and will be included in more and more devices in the near future — at home, at work, and in your car. In addition, voice computing enables better access for people in a variety of situations, such as people with vision problems, mobility problems, and situations where hands-free computing is useful.

We will cover
• demonstrations of Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant, with information about their capabilities
• the benefits of voice computing for people with disabilities
• privacy and security concerns of voice computing
• predictions for future use of these platforms
• suggestions for using these platforms in library services and events

• You’ll become familiar with the basics of three major voice computing platforms.
• You’ll understand why voice-computing is an important forward step in the future of user interfaces.
• You’ll have a list of resources for learning more.
• You’ll be inspired to include voice computing platforms in library services and events.

Biography ~Nicole Hennig
Nicole Hennig is an expert in mobile technologies for libraries. In her 14 years of experience at the MIT Libraries, she won awards for innovation, and worked to keep academics up to date with the best mobile technologies. Now she has her own business helping librarians stay current with new technologies. She is the author of several books, including Keeping Up with Emerging Technologies, and Apps for Librarians.

Like most librarians, she is passionate about access to information for all. Mobile apps are empowering for all ages and abilities — and librarians who take her courses are becoming technology experts for their communities.

To stay current with the best technologies for education and productivity, sign up for her email newsletter, Mobile Apps News, on

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This event is full.