Commentary

Why Voice-Activated AI Will Become Your New BFF

The phrase “Don’t listen to what I say — watch what I do”  is quickly becoming obsolete, because we’re experiencing a radical shift in technology where what you say will directly influence what you do.  It’s the emerging area of voice-activated AI.  

Voice-activated AI sounds like something out of a science fiction story, but it’s fast becoming an everyday tool.  The trail has been blazed by Alexa and Siri, but there are many new devices coming for both personal and professional use.  

This is a very important development because it creates a new level of efficiency if done right, and provides access to tools that many people previously couldn’t use.

Speaking to software creates efficiency that you can’t get from typing, no matter how fast you type.  If that software is intelligent enough to hypothesize what you mean and proactively take actions that were implied, that’s even better.  

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I’m not talking about AI that worries people because it replaces a previously human-only role, but rather AI that can take on more mundane responsibilities and enable people to focus on what may be a more productive use of their time.

When you use Alexa at home to buy a product, you aren’t replacing anyone’s job.  You’re simply making it easier to go about your daily activities and get more done on your list in an easier way.  That should free you up to do more!

There are a rash of new companies looking to integrate voice and AI into your day, each adding value in ways that we may not have previously imagined.  The area of challenge for them is that no two voices sound the same.  Voice recognition and natural language processing are hard.  

Think of how difficult it is to understand people on the phone at times, and then factor in accents and colloquialisms that people throw into their everyday speech.  
Still, lots of smart people are working on solving these challenges!  

I know that in my day-to-day interactions with Siri and Alexa, they routinely get it wrong.  They regularly ignore me because they don’t “get” what I was saying. Maybe I mumbled, or maybe it was simply not a phrase they understood?  Either way it still feels like the early days of the category, but one that I find very exciting.

Voice-enabled search is the fastest growing area of the category and the one that most people seem to be paying attention to. Others include calendar management at work, meeting management, and many more.

Some of the concerns about the category stem from having machines listening all of the time, but much of the companies in this space seem well aware of this issue and are finding ways to limit or manage the “always on” components. There is also an entire industry rising that helps software companies create the access points for voice, companies are poised to do well as the category explodes.

It’s likely that within two to three years every piece of software will have a voice-activated component.  What does that mean for your personal and professional world? Will you be multitasking even more?  Will your keyboard become obsolete?

Sometimes I go on auto-pilot when writing and my output is less effective. I actually find that when I speak, I can be more present and more focused.  I think the voice-activated AI space will create efficiency, and enable us to do more of the important things and less of the mundane.

What about you?

4 comments about "Why Voice-Activated AI Will Become Your New BFF".
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  1. CJ McCabe from C-Mac, September 6, 2017 at 7:02 p.m.

    Open the pod bay doors, Hal.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, September 7, 2017 at 8:24 p.m.

    Better yet, how about reading today's Gord Hotchkiss article.

  3. Alison Murdock from Verto Analytics, September 8, 2017 at 1:39 p.m.

    Cory,
    You might be interested in reading our research about this space. We agree that AI-powered apps have the potential to change our digital behavior with screens and screenless interfaces, but it will take awhile. 

    We examined months worth of behavioral data from our single-source panel and found Siri dropped extensively while Alexa grew. And then ran a survey to confirm why. Read more here: http://www.vertoanalytics.com/chart-week-consumers-use-personal-assistant-apps/.

    Reach out with any questions! 
    Alisons

  4. Cory Treffiletti from Cisco, September 8, 2017 at 1:56 p.m.

    Thanks Alison - i will check this out!

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