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VoLTE and the Internet of Things

Internet of Things VoLTE applications

Voice over LTE, or VoLTE, is in some ways the final frontier for LTE. Most voice calls still use 3G networks, but mobile operators are expected to transition more and more voice service to LTE in the years ahead. At the same time, operators will be working hard to connect new kinds of devices to their networks, as the Internet of Things creates fresh opportunities.

Does VoLTE have a role to play in the Internet of Things? According to the analysts at Strategy Analytics, IoT devices and applications designed around VoLTE could save money for operators and could even save lives.

“The integration of voice – including VoLTE – into IoT applications offers a versatile method to provide human interaction; communication and control, that with proper implementation and consideration for relevance, costs and human factors, can provide a more flexible user experience in a more economical way than traditional methods such as touch screens or data input,” according to a recent Strategy Analytics whitepaper. The firm projects that voice could capture up to 12% of IoT applications by 2022.

Below are three things voice can do for the Internet of Things.

1. Eliminate touchscreens
Touchscreens are great for the smartphones that we use all day long, but are not really needed for connected industrial equipment that performs just a few functions. Voice control means that connected devices can be designed without a touchscreen in many cases, meaning the equipment will cost less and will use less power.

Voice control of equipment also enables passwords to reside with people instead of devices. For example, if a workplace security system is controlled by a mobile network, a worker who leaves his phone in the building cannot go back and get it unless he can use his voice to unlock the building with a password.

2. Make the connected car safer
Connected cars can entertain us, direct us and tell us how to maintain them. But none of that matters much if we don’t arrive safely at our destination, so until cars are completely autonomous we will still need to drive them. Driving is easier with your eyes on the road, but that simple fact becomes harder and harder to remember as carmakers continue to differentiate their products by adding in-vehicle distractions. Voice control lets drivers ask for directions, music, nearby services, or vehicle diagnostics without looking away from the road.

Ford, GM, Lexus, Chrysler and Honda have all added voice command systems to their connected car services. Ford Sync already recognizes 10,000 voice commands, according to Strategy Analytics.

Among U.S. mobile operators, AT&T has been the most aggressive in leveraging its LTE network for connected car applications. The carrier has agreements with GM, Audi and Porsche, among others.

3. Take back the TV
Of all the home appliances that can annoy consumers, the TV remote may be the target of the most frusration because it requires us to work at something just as we are sitting down to relax. As video connections, devices and channels have proliferated, the number and complexity of TV remotes has multiplied in many homes.

Cable giant Comcast is already offering a voice-controlled remote, and Apple has integrated Siri with Apple TV. As smart TV sets become a centerpiece of the connected home, look for more voice-activated control.

For mobile operators, full screen video is not currently something the network can realistically offer. But 5G promises ultra high definition video streaming, so connecting a TV to a mobile network may no longer seem unrealistic, especially if the smartphone becomes a key controller for the connected home.

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