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In today's so-called smart home, you can dim the lights, order more toothpaste or tell the kids to go to bed simply by talking to a small Wifi-connected speaker, such as Amazon's Echo or Google's Home.This year, Voice Labs, a consultancy, expects 24.5 million appliances to be shipped.Other big tech firms have their own plans: Apple is taking its Siri voice assistant beyond its mobile devices to PCs, cars, and the home; Baidu last month bought Raven, billed as China's answer to Amazon's Alexa intelligent personal assistant; and Samsung Electronics plans to incorporate Viv, its newly acquired virtual assistant, into its phones and home appliances.Several major appliance makers have turned to a small Singapore firm, Unified Inbox, which offers a service that can handle ordinary text messages and pass them on to appliances.There's another reason, Ruckert says, why more than half of the world's smart appliance manufacturers have signed up.LG Electronics and Huawei are also working on Alexa-enabled devices, Amazon said.At Unified Inbox, Ruckert looks ahead to being able to communicate not only with one's own appliances, but with machines elsewhere.
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