In less than 10 years our personal devices have moved from keyboard data entry to voice recognition enabling a new generation of smarter technology.
“OK, Google”, “Hey, Cortana”, “Alexa” and “Hey, Siri” are phrases that are starting to become a part of our daily vocabulary. Whichever operating system you prefer, the fact that now the most recognised technology companies in the world; Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Apple, all have hardware that responds to your voice, demonstrates the next real step in device interaction. The crowd sourcing community and innovative start-ups are also developing more niche voice-activated assistants such as iVee, Ubi and HAL (Home Automated Living), are also bringing a different proposition around voice control. This is a clear indication that voice recognition, and voice interaction with your devices and the Internet itself, is a key technology trend that will see significant growth over the next 3 to 5 years.
Since the launch of voice search in 2008 from both Apple and Google, the number of voice search terms has grown significantly. Studies have shown that key search terms, such as “Call, Mum” and “Navigate, Home” have increased over thirty-five times when compared to same terms used in 2008. Now, in 2016 with the launch of the Amazon Echo in the UK, following its huge success in the US in 2015 (Echo was the fastest selling speaker in the USA during 2015), and the recent launch of Google Home, voice has moved from our handsets to include devices inside our homes.
The shift from voice-search to voice-control has progressed quickly and, so it seems, relatively naturally. This should come as no surprise to many. “Hey Siri, Call Mum” has progressed to “Alexa, Switch on my Living Room Lights”, or “Alexa, Turn up the Heating”, making the changes in our home immediate and based on current conditions, not timers and temperature. It is the ultimate in home-personalisation. It could certainly be suggested that control of our everyday spaces, i.e. our home or office, was the destination, with our phones taking us on the ‘voice-control’ journey.
And the technology is getting better and better, with huge advances being made in word recognition accuracy. Google’s word accuracy has increased from below 80% in 2013 to over 90% in 2015. However, the real game-changer is the use of “conversational search” used by Google in their new Search Assistant. Conversational Search understands the complete sentence, not just keywords, to give a more appropriate response. Even more impressive, is that now the user can question or respond to the assistant’s original response, thereby conversing with rather than using separate and distinct search queries each time the user interacts with their device.
The reasons we use voice searches are straightforward. We use voice because it’s quicker, we use voice because it is simple, but most significantly we use voice because it is natural to do so. It may, now at least, seem a little awkward and to some embarrassing even, however, voice-control, whether it be from our handsets, our laptops, our PC’s or via our dedicated hardware, will soon become a regular part of our interactions with our technology and the world we live in.
Let us know your view on voice recognition. Is it here to stay? Where and what could the best applications of voice recognition and control be?
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