The virtual assistants that can set alarms and alert users to weather updates may be moving to more complicated tasks: Office work.

The tech industry has been slowly considering how voice-activated AI devices like Google Home or Amazon's Echo may be useful in the workplace, according to The Wall Street Journal. While some offices have already adopted these gadgets for tasks like setting reminders, experts say they aren't ready for certain professional duties just yet.

For example, Echo can use the Amazon Restaurants service to order lunch for users. However, Amazon Restaurants is only currently available in 20 cities and users must reorder meals they've previously bought. Google Home hasn't quite caught up to Amazon, but can order Domino's pizza.

While these services leave much to be desired in a virtual assistant, the largest drawbacks for office use are privacy and voice-recognition. The devices are technically always listening, which may pose a problem when dealing with confidential or sensitive material. What's more, with the news that TVs can be used as listening devices in the most recent batch of Wikileaks, it's not hard to imagine the same thing happening with these machines.

Additionally, the devices don't have the ability to distinguish between voices. While Amazon is reportedly working on this technology, it would be difficult for multiple employees to collectively use one for device when making individual requests.

Published on: Mar 13, 2017