Diary management, administration, opening doors or reading the newspaper; the virtual assistant pops up everywhere to make users' lives significantly easier.

Virtual assistants seem to be getting 'smarter' and therefore also more applicable and common. Google has announced an online 'Hey Google' Smart home event keynote hold. During this 45-minute session, Google will announce new features for smart home developers and users. So it's high time to take a closer look at the virtual assistant. How is the virtual assistant market developing and how can apps make smart use of it?


You may have already read it this morning on your favorite forum or an article on The Verge. You can now invoke Siri with the shortcut “Siri, I'm getting pulled over”, after which your iPhone performs a chain reaction of subsequent actions. All you have to do for this is download the shortcut and then activate it with the text "Hey Siri, I'm getting pulled over." As a result, your iPhone will dim itself, pause any music and start recording video on the front camera. Optionally, your smartphone also sends you GPS location and copy the video to your contact in need. And all this with one simple voice command.

The reason for this shortcut is the ongoing protests in America and worldwide about racism and police brutality. All over the world people are demonstrating in large numbers and calling for equal treatment.

Now we are not going to get involved in the discussion about police brutality or racist discrimination in this article (#BLM), but it does give us a nice stepping stone to the smart assistant. Slowly we experience how the virtual assistant can help us in important daily tasks. And although this Siri shortcut was already designed in 2018 by Robert Petersen, the feature is now more relevant than ever after the current incidents.

The Siri shortcut is just one of many examples where a smart assistant can be used. And although we are still far from using the full potential of digital assistants and smart devices, it does open some doors. What else can we expect from virtual assistants? And why do a virtual assistant and app go hand in hand so well? In this article we give concrete examples of apps that (can) use the virtual assistant.

A virtual assistant (also known as a voice assistant) is a software program that can perform certain tasks or services through speech recognition. Due to an increasingly intuitive link between user and system (or smart device), these commands are becoming more and more 'human'. Via the virtual assistant it is possible to request information such as the weather, recipes or sports results. Multiple commands and actions can also be performed, such as starting an app. Previously, these applications were mainly used on iOS and Android operating systems. After 2014, the range of smart speakers on the market increased, which have a built-in virtual or smart assistant as standard.

The origin of smart assistants is mainly in the need to make computers accessible to everyone. For example, anyone with a visual impairment or a speech problem can still understand what is on screen and communicate with it with the help of a smart assistant. But now voice assistants have come a long way and can hardly be compared to the voice computer of Stephen Hawking, for example.

Because technology can now be set up in such a way that it can work autonomously and learn on its own with the help of AI software, a lot of doors are suddenly opening for smart assistants. Now they really become a virtual assistant. What can you think about?

The smart assistants from, for example, Google (Google Assistant), Amazon (Alexa) or Apple (Siri) require certain hardware to be activated. This hardware falls under the name 'domotics' (= Applying electronics and home networks to automate processes in a home, office or company). Where the smart assistants were first mainly embedded in smartphones, now almost all smart devices (smart devices) this possibility. For example, for Siri, this includes all mobile operating systems such as iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, watchOS, audioOS, and MacOS.

All these smart devices fall under the increasing home automation applications, something we ewritten about before. Not only we have seen this potential of smart devices: more and more households and companies are now using domotics. From the smart speakers from Sonos or Ikea to the dishwashers that send an app when they are done with the rinsing program.

Uit recent research shows that 3.3 million Dutch households now have one or more smart home products, with the total value of the market amounting to 800 million euros. This is an increase of 47% compared to last year. To give you an idea of ​​where we're headed, all of these devices have virtual voice assistants built in. So there is already a huge platform for these applications.


An app and a virtual assistant are a dream team par excellence*. This is mainly due to the fact that a virtual assistant removes the barrier of a user interface. Users can perform or have performed a (series of) actions with a voice command. Users no longer have to search on the smartphone or start an app, as long as the device is switched on. Technically we would say that a virtual assistant actually works well with an API (the backend) because the communication between the program and the app (and the hardware) can be well integrated with each other.

You can view a virtual assistant as a passive listener that works with two-way communication: they hear a command and respond to the command. AI integrations allow the virtual assistant to recognize and execute the user's commands. This is basically an application program that learns from extensive data through machine learning, virtual reality and speech recognition platforms.

If you bring this together in smart apps, you can come up with a legion of applications for apps that use a virtual assistant for many industries. In this article we give examples of a virtual assistant in healthcare apps, educational apps and e-commerce.

*As far as we are concerned, an app with many things goes well together. Take, for example, home automation, smart locks or blockchain. Although we may be a bit biased when it comes to apps..


Healthcare apps are perhaps ideally suited for functions that use the smart assistant. Consider the practical example mentioned earlier: visually impaired people are given the opportunity to hear all the information themselves instead of seeing it.

On the other hand, there are many more implementations you can think of. For example, in the past we added a voice assistant option in a care app that we developed for elderly care. The elderly could use the Google Assistant to find a healthcare provider when they needed it. For example, a physiotherapist. The app asks questions such as where the physio should be located and what facilities should be available. Based on the answers, the user gets a list of best matches. Which can then be accessed automatically with the right voice command.


Another type of app that the virtual assistant fits well with are educational apps. Again, the possibilities here are endless. Consider, for example, offering educational content when the user requests it. Suppose you own an app that offers exam material and practice exams. Adding a digital assistant can then offer many advantages. Users can request and listen to the lesson material while they are busy with other tasks. This is also a certain advantage for parents or study buddies: from now on, even the quizzes will be done via the virtual assistant.

A virtual assistant is very suitable for museums, theatres, schools and companies that offer educational material. By integrating such an application, not only more people can use a service or service, but the effectiveness is also greatly increased. For example, users remember certain material better and an app or application can become a lot more interactive with a digital assistant.


It is clear that voice assistants will play an important role in e-commerce research by Smart Home Monitor, among others. Consumers find it increasingly important to easily get customer support, ask questions, get personalized recommendations and so on. Are you in e-commerce yourself? Then you must have heard of the term conversational commerce. A term that refers to the interaction between consumer and e-commerce company.

Virtual assistants are used by consumers to gather information, check the weather or play music. But also to search for products and make purchases. This is only expected to increase in the coming years due to a combination of factors. Think of technical innovations, but also a 1.5 meter society in which more and more products are no longer bought in a physical store.

Voice assistants use


There are of course many more applications where digital assistants are a smart addition to the provision of a service or service. The examples above are just a selection of the possibilities of voice assistants.

Are you toying with the idea of ​​developing an app? Then it may be smart to think about a possible integration of a virtual assistant within your app. Already have an existing app? Then such an integration can also be an option. Precisely with a view to the future, we can say that the virtual assistant will become indispensable. If you already make smart use of this with your app, you will have a unique competitive advantage and your app will offer real added value.

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