This trend is taking hold because we’ve reached a clear tipping point in technology development. As the tech has progressed in processing capability, it has also become more advanced in recognizing different types of natural language inputs from the user.
Thus, we’ve reached the state where humans no longer have to learn the language of machines to create actions. Instead, machines have learned the language of humans. This means you can effectively talk to your machine and ask it to do things rather than having to type things in to request actions.
This stage of voice technology prompts three considerations.
The first has humans talking to machines to create value in the forms of information or action, asking machines to do simple tasks like play music or turn on lights. This is the path taken by Alexa, Google Home and Siri. Home automation and simple entertainment tasks are the predominant way these tools are being used.
The second is when machines can extract and activate value from human-to-human conversations. This is where you see digital assistants that have more AI built into them — thus requiring less direction, with the ability to hypothesize more of what you are seeking to do.
The third consideration is whether these services are tied to a specific device or not. In the first consideration, with humans talking to their machines, specific devices are necessary. Some of the second-consideration products, where machines are simply listening, can be device-agnostic, but not all.
These considerations are becoming the standard for voice technology.
Walking into an office or down the street now, you see more people who appear to be talking to themselves. Of course they’re not – they’re talking to their machines. Some have headphones on, while others are simply talking to a speaker. They may not be looking for a response in terms of interaction but for information or an action to be taken.
What I personally find interesting is that, in addition to voice becoming commonplace to create actions, you’re seeing voice become the UI for stitching together technology. One person can use multiple assistants and another can use multiple UIs, but all of them will be operated via voice. There’s no requirement to choose a single provider as there may have been in the past. It’s not like Microsoft vs. Android or Apple — you can use voice to drive interactions across all devices regardless of the underlying technology, because you are the common denominator rather than code or technology.
This is why voice is so important a technology development. Voice creates scale because it allows everyone to interact with technology. It lowers the bar for tech-savviness to create value and drive engagement.
This is why voice is the killer app for 2018 — and why you’ll be talking more to your devices in the year to come.\