What\u2019s happening: The Reuters Institute at Oxford just released a new research report, The Future of Voice and the Implications for News. With smart speakers and audio journalism emerging as here-to-stay trends, the topic is relevant to today\u2019s digital news publishers who don\u2019t want to miss the boat on new technology. According to Adam Tinworth of One Man & His Blog, the Reuters research is just the type that the media needs right now, to help understand the emergent market and know what to watch for in the future. Why it matters: Tinworth says that a lot of time and effort is wasted on digital platforms which may never deliver the returns that publishers want \u2014 but early research on a specific one, such as this Reuters report on smart speakers, may help publishers make smarter decisions. With the smart speaker platform just over three years old, and the devices having remarkable penetration into the home market, it\u2019s one that is worth paying attention to. The Reuters report, written by Nic Newman, can be distilled at its most basic form into two concepts: \tSmart speakers are popular and growing ever more so. \tYet, using them to listen to news is not that popular. Digging deeper: The smart speaker market is growing, and therefore should be watched by media companies \u2014 though Tinworth says that in these early stages, publishers might not necessarily feel pressured to jump into it right now. His take is that strategy resources might be better invested in more mature platforms at the moment, while keeping an eye on the smart speaker platform for news reporting. Some stats on journalism and smart speakers gleaned from the report include: \tSmart speaker usage has doubled over the past year in the United States, United Kingdom and Germany (the three countries analysed in the report). \tWhile people do use them for news, it\u2019s not frequently and they report being dissatisfied with the experience. \tShorter is more popular on the platform; many users report a preference for one-minute bulletins that are regularly updated. \tPeople rarely change their speakers\u2019 default settings. This means that the news provider set to default in the user\u2019s smart speaker system has a huge advantage and ends up dominating. In the U.K., that\u2019s hands-down the BBC. The future of interactive audio: Based on the report\u2019s findings, the growth of smart speakers as a platform for news may be dependent upon: \tThe platform finding a solution to discovery issues. \tSeeing what people actually end up using voice interface for. Tinworth notes that new interfaces rarely replace old ones, but rather just get added. Voice is most likely to come into play when offering simple commands, such as those for playing music or dimming lights. He does see some interesting things in the report that are optimistic for the future of smart speaker journalism: \tThe Quartz chat interface could possibly be extrapolated into a more interactive voice-based news interface. \tThe platform may be in the \u201cshovelware\u201d stage of development \u2014 while at the moment traditional radio format is being pushed onto smart speakers, morphing into more interactive, curated experiences might be more compelling in the future. The bottom line: Spending some time and resources into research and experimentation of smart speaker journalism might prove worthwhile for digital news publishers; though the challenges of the imcumbency factor and monetisation remain strong. In addition, the three main smart speaker manufacturers \u2014 Apple, Google and Amazon \u2014 aren\u2019t disclosing useful analytics or data to allow publishers to assess how successful their content on the devices is. The Guardian\u2019s six-month Voice Lab experiment is definitely one worth taking a look at as we move into this future.