Voice Technolgy Trends 2020
Large corporations in the technology industry are investing heavily, whether it is their resources or their capabilities, in this new space called Voice Technology.
According to Campaign Monitor in 2019, 71.8% of the respondents said they expect to use voice technology more in the future. Here are the key voice technology trends you need to know in 2020.
Voice Technology Trends 2020
Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa may just be the first steps of human-computer interaction. Recently, we are seeing screens becoming tethered to the voice-first experience where the visual display allows you to experience multimodal digital experience. For instance, when you speak to the device, the output would be visual and responsive.
Voice Technology is also moving away from home to on-the-go such as voice assistance on our phone (Siri), Airpods, and voice interfaces in the cars. Google Assistant and Alexa are used in cars that improve the entire user experience as there is a continuous conversation. They know you from the data that you use at home or on your phone and when you enter your car, you can have this consistent conversation and experience with the voice assistant wherever you are.
Another example is that Tesla has also utilized a natural language processor into its products with a car voice command that interprets your request and translates it into action. Combined with self-driving, this could make driving completely hands-free in the future.
There will be more near-field voice assistance where more near-field ribbon microphones will be installed in the voice devices. We will see a lot of private communication as you do not always want to request things out in the public. Thus, having the near-field voice assistance will overcome a lot of privacy concerns one may have with regards to communicating via voice. Google Assistant is integrated into selected Bose noise-canceling headphones where there will be improved efficiency of the received signals when one speaks to it.
Artificial Intelligence is only one side – the IQ level, the logic, the rationality. Voices are so inherently emotional, and we will see a lot of artificial emotional intelligence in voice technology.
Historically, there has been naturalization of this interaction throughout our experiences from keyboards to touch, which is more natural than keyboards, then we are now moving towards the next new natural interface - voice because it is so natural to us than a QWERTY keyboard – not natural, as it is something you have to be trained to be able to interact with your computer.
However, with voice, the onus of understanding the user has been turned because we do not have to learn how to speak like we have to learn how to use a QWERTY keyboard. It is a much more natural interaction and user-friendly, the expectation that is for a human to be able to say what they need to say, and the computer has to figure out how to deal with that request. Voice has an emotional element that we can utilize for our benefits.
For example, targeting minority groups such as the elderly and the vulnerable with voice technology. Many minority communities do not have access to technologies as a computer is more difficult to use as opposed to a device in which you could talk to it and it could also support their mental health.
The Benjamin Button effect is essentially how Benjamin Button became younger as he got older and by that, it means that the more you use the voice-based products or any technological products of our generation, the more you use them, the better they become. The technology cleans the observational data, it learns from how the user interacts with it and improves. Hence, the next time you have an interaction with it, it becomes better than the previous time you used it. With voice technology, you will observe that as you interact with these assistants.
These assistants know you, understand you to the point where you may not even need to ask what it is that you need because based on the history of getting to know you just like a friend can, they can predict what it is that you wanted. We are currently at the stage of the slope of enlightenment based on the hype cycle where the type of voice technology provides value as compared to the fads. Gradually, there will be a plateau of productivity and as the technology improves, productivity will increase.
There is a push for convenience-first instead of voice-first. The voice-first revolution kind of sets the standard a little too high. We need to think about what constitutes convenience, not physically convenient but emotionally convenient for the users. There is going to be an increase of brands and products or services experimenting with voice technology and where it would fit in the digital experiences.
Putting it into context, brands have spent a lot of money to develop their visual brand over the past decades. If we think of a lot of the interactions that we have with brands today, it is visual -what do they look like, what are the colors used, what are the advertisements like. Often, we forget the fact that the visual element is not the only way we interact with things that we love.
With voice technology, businesses may need to think about how brands sound like with their auditory persona. Although music has been used in stores or advertisements, brands are figuring out how they sound like if they were to embed it within the devices to create another platform for the customers to interact with the brands.
Instead of replacing other interfaces, voice technology aims to provide convenience and supplement the existing digital strategy. It also provides utility as compared to other interfaces as it is less frictionless and more pleasurable. It acts as a supplement – not replacement for interfaces that may require high cognitive function or may have low pleasure.
Voice technology is a very primal and natural technology that we did not see in previous technologies or previous interfaces. Its user base is also incredible as it already exists on our voice phones and devices. Thus, understanding the trends could aid us in determining the strategies as to what we should do as a consumer or a brand.
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Andrea Tong is a final year business undergraduate at Singapore Management University. With a penchant for creative exploration and storytelling, she believes that creativity and empathy is vital for a brand's sustainability and to improve one's experiences.