In more recent times, have you seen any human talking to someone that isn’t there?
Chances are that you might have. In the past this would have sounded weird, but today it really isn’t a big deal.
Well, because, on average, 40 percent of adults use voice search daily; and voice technology is growing exponentially, disrupting our personal and professional lives.
Long gone are the days of 2011 when Apple launched voice assistant Siri and ushered in a new age of voice technology. Who knew, Siri a simple tool to pass the time and have some fun with would be the precursor to walking into our homes and instructing Alexa to turn on the lights, crank up the heating, order food or a cab? Today, we are embracing voice technology, transforming our lives without -ironically- talking about it.
What is Voice Technology?
Voice technology is a hands-free and frictionless approach of using technology that is built upon the interaction of user experience (UX), artificial intelligence (AI), and the internet of things (IoT).
Below, are some of the most popular and widely used voice recognition technologies :
- Google voice search/assistant on Android devices, Google Home, and Pixel phone
- Amazon Alexa on Amazon’s latest tablets and Echo Dot
- Siri on Apple iPhone, iPod, and iPad
- Microsoft Cortana on Windows phone, Xbox one, and Windows 10
Note: each is an interface, below which lies layers of software from voice recognition – speech recognition technology that decodes human voice – to artificial intelligence and voice-enabled applications. Collectively, they make up voice technology.
Voice Technology Trends in 2019 & Beyond
Given that voice technology uses voice, which is a natural and convenient method of interaction, there are endless possibilities and extensive personal as well as business uses of it.
Voice technology is on the rise, and it will continue to grow, a fact that is evidenced from the following statistics:
- Currently, 20% of all internet searches occur via voice technology, there are one billion voice searches per month
- By 2020, 50% of online searches will be conducted through voice technology and ‘screenless’ browsing is predicted to account for 30% of total browsing by this time
- Approximately 1 out of every 5 online buyers has made a purchase through voice assistants, and it is estimated that 50% of consumers will be shopping, using voice technology by 2020
- From the 1 billion unique mobile users around the globe, at least 58 percent use voice search once daily to find local business information
- Voice shopping will grow to a £3.5 billion industry in the UK and $40 billion industry in the US by 2022
Importance of Voice Technology
Having understood the trend, we can identify the reasons behind it. Most of the reasons directly relate to the numerous benefits of voice assistant technology.
Firstly, voice search offers speedy results. While on average, a person can type a command or query with a rate of approximately 40 words per minute, the same person can easily speak 100 to 150 words per minute. This means that not only does voice technology offer faster results, but the effort involved is minimal. Plus, the results of queries are read back, and they are personalised according to individual preferences. Why wouldn’t anyone love all this?
Voice technology can also automate a variety of tasks, in both personal and professional life. Some examples include sending out emails, booking flights, creating, transcribing or processing documents, setting alarms, ordering different items and finding the most relevant as well as accurate answers to any query. Now, these may seem seem like trivial tasks, however such basic activities as these once automated can impact life in a tremendously positive way.
The technology can really be helpful to people who are on the go, in an automobile in addition to those that are handicapped, aged or suffering from diseases such as arthritis and dyslexia. From helping drivers focus on what matters most by multi-tasking on their behalf, to assisting older as well as disabled people for instance, by retrieving messages, asking for social visits or help in case of an emergency, giving medication reminders, and entertaining as well as educating in case of need, voice technology has the potential to become a personal assistant to everyone.
Greater operational efficiency, cost reductions and enhanced customer experiences are some of the advantages of voice technology to businesses. By helping companies avoid unnecessary and often substantial call centre costs, reduce staffing, utilise employees for more important, value add tasks, and collecting as well as analysing information while providing satisfactory and prompt responses, voice technology today offers invaluable advantages to organisations.
The View from the Other Side
Maybe voice technology could be that cornerstone technology that we have all been waiting so long for. Only time will tell how effortlessly it will integrate into all our lives notwithstanding the issues pertaining to personal data protection and privacy. Some internet users are still hesitant when it comes to trusting and embracing new technologies, voice technology will have its laggards too. Moreover, price and in some instances complexity are cited as potential barriers to entry.
With numerous benefits of voice assistant technology such as speed, convenience, and efficiency and it’s continuous evolution in terms of responsiveness, accuracy and intelligence, voice technologies are rapidly making inroads into numerous important sectors including healthcare, finance, and automotive.
There’s no doubt that voice technology is already becoming an integral part of our daily lives. Having said that, it is about time that businesses started re-thinking their strategies as is often the case, first-movers will gain a competitive advantage. Those organisations which integrate this technology successfully into their online marketing and business expansion strategies will be potential market leaders.
Yes, change as always will require careful planning and implementation before any hard gains can be won.
It won’t be long before typing goes the way of the dodo.