What are Voice Assistants?
Let’s begin with the basics: what is a voice assistant? A voice assistant is a program that “understands” natural language and complete tasks for the user depending on his voice commands. It saves time and can make your life easier by giving you what you want such as the news, the weather, or the time when the next train will come.
You might have heard of many voice assistants in the marketplace. Here are some of the most famous voice assistants: Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa, Bixby, Cortana.
Those digital assistants can already do many things. Here is a YouTube video that compares them effectively:
You can also find those assistants on physical devices like a speaker. For instance, Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Microsoft’s Invoke are running Alexa, Google Assistant, and Cortana to execute the requests of the users.
Yet, there are still tons of issues to solve until they can help us effectively.
What are the limitations?
There are so many limitations, and I firmly believe that voice assistants can be so much better. Here is a list of the main problems that I see right now:
- A voice assistant is also called digital assistant, but a better name would be a personal digital assistant.
- You must ask them questions, otherwise, they are not interested in you.
- They lack understanding of the context of the conversation.
In my opinion, every single human on Earth should have his own personal digital assistant. No more Alexa, no more Google Assistant, and enough Siri. The users would choose the name that he wants for his digital assistant. After all, why are they imposing a name on them, I do not want someone to impose me a name for my assistant. I know that it seems trivial at first sight, but I truly believe that it is important. Every single human should be enhanced with his OWN digital assistant.
To build a great human and machine interaction, your voice assistant must know you more than your family and your friends (maybe not as much as your girlfriend, but I’m thinking about it). The reason for this is that the more data it has, the more it will be able to help you through your journey. The more it knows your wants and needs in life, the more it will be able to predict what you want before you know you even want it (more about it later). The personal assistant should know the habits of the user well enough so that he does not have to ask questions. Instead, the digital assistant will tell him what he wants before he even thinks of asking it.
Last but not least, the main focus must be to give voice assistants a thorough understanding of speech. There is almost no dialogue, no long-term interaction. It is impossible to build a human and machine interaction without understanding. At the moment, it is also a question nearly everybody in the technology industry is racing to answer.
The main point is that some tech giants like Amazon are trying to teach people what to say, rather than striving to give the ability of understanding to their voice assistant. On the Amazon Echo, you don’t have a visual interface like on your phone, so you can’t remember all the apps that you have installed. So far so good, but why do we need to say a certain phrase to activate any voice apps? For instance, if you want to know when the next train is coming you must say: “Alexa, open the skill Bay Area Transit” and then ask your question. The users should be able to say directly: “Alexa, when is the next train from Redwood City to San Francisco?”.
As you can see, we should not have to open a voice app to be able to have information because it does not save time. In fact, Alexa should know my schedule and tell me directly when is the next train before I even know I want to ask it.
According to eMarketer, the number of Americans that are using voice assistant has grown to 36 million this year. In addition, some analysts predict 200 billion searches per month by 2020 using a digital assistant. As you can see, the uptake of voice assistant devices is faster than excepted.
Voice is the most simple and powerful medium: it is the next frontier. Just imagine the result if you mix it up with Artificial Intelligence, the most powerful Technology of our era.
“Voice brings a new era of liberation – a truly hands-free experience where we are released from the intense relationship we have with our screens. They are huge opportunities for brands that can play a role in that liberation,” said Zoe Lawrence, APAC Director – Digital, Insights at Kantar. She added that “brands need to enter into the environment carefully: their presence needs to feel appropriate and non-invasive.
We are moving from an era dominated by digital screens to one where Technology will be embedded in every object without a user interface. The smartphone interface will be replaced with gestures, voices, and brain activity. In the long term, my belief is that human will make only one with Technology.
For the short term though, voice is the next frontier. Combined with Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things, it can really make people’s life easier.
The Internet of Things (IoT)
The IoT represents all the devices and sensors connected to the Internet. According to IDC’s Digital Universe Update, the number of connected devices will expand from 20 billion today to 30 billion by 2020 to 80 billion by 2025. If all objects are connected to a platform, then it can bring us diverse information: updates on where to park or on our personal health. For example, imagine that you have a device that detects the stress via blood pressure. It will share data with the platform, conducting your voice assistant to turns on a classical music for you to reduce the stress or a music that you like based on your wants.
All objects will share data, your voice assistant will be the new interface for you to communicate with objects.
Soon enough, they will be interacting with every object such as fridges, cars, and even the workplace. (Besides, how do we best combine our human staff with Technology?)
All those devices are creating data so we will see a humongous expansion of the data being created by them. This is a huge problem because we must find a way to know how to analyze this vast amount of data. Humans cannot do this job and today 99.5 % of digital data is never analyzed. So, what is the solution? Voice Assistant will help us find meaning through the vast amount of data.
In business or in your personal life, your voice assistant will be vital for you.
Thank you so much for reading guys, that is the end of Article 103. As always, I’m here to help. Hit me up on any of my social media below and stay in touch!
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