Voice-enabled technology will dominate the future and companies are already preparing for this new reality. Adobe recently found that 91% of American businesses are investing in voice technologies—and the total amount of money invested in the technology is only expected to increase.
Adobe Analytic’s Marketing Manager, Heidi Besik, noted, “We’re reaching a tipping point as more and more consumers use voice services consistently.” She’s right.
Today, more than half of Americans report using a voice assistant. This includes smartphones, computers, and smart speakers (like Google’ Alexa and Amazon’s Echo). In addition, research also found that a full one third (36%) of American adults have a smart speaker in their home.
Businesses of all sizes are expanding their internal development teams and working with software development services to build custom voice-enabled technology for the future. This article will briefly look at the history of voice-enabled tech before showing readers what to expect from voice tech in the future.
The History of Voice-Enabled Tech
The first real “voice-enabled” technology was created by Bell Labs in 1952. Nicknamed “Audrey,” the Automatic Digit Recognition machine was capable of recognizing and recording any number between 0 to 9. This six-foot tall device drew a huge amount of power in order to recognize those 10 digits with an estimated 70-90% accuracy.
Despite its limitations, Audrey showed engineers what was possible. The U.S. Department of Defense released Harpy in 1976. This revolutionary machine was not only capable of understanding an astonishing 1,011 words, but it was also capable of synthesizing and understanding full sentences.
This major technological leap paved the way for modern voice recognition systems—beginning with voice-activated smartphone assistants.
The next major advancement in voice-enabled tech was Google Voice Search, launched as an iPhone app in 2008 (and followed up by Apple’s Siri in 2011). Google used machine learning and the vast amount of data collected from its search technology to rework the company’s algorithm and improve the quality of tech over time. This resulted in the release of Google Hummingbird in 2013.
Both Amazon and Google released voice-enabled devices for the home in the early 2010s and are among the top-selling tech items in 2019. Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Alexa are music speakers, virtual assistants, shopping devices, and more. They help users quickly look up facts, change the climate and lighting in their home, and remind owners of crucial events.
Despite advancements in voice-enabled tech over the past decade, current devices are rudimentary. Read on to learn how voice-enabled tech will shape lives in the future.
Voice Enabled Tech in the Future
Companies like Amazon and Google are currently investing millions of dollars in order to improve their voice-enabled home technology, such as Echo and Alexa, and expand their capabilities as virtual assistants.
In addition, businesses are investing billions of dollars to develop voice-enabled technology for the corporate workplace and for the medical device industry.
Smart Homes & Cars
The most popular current use of voice-enabled technology is in the home. As mentioned above, one-third of homes currently use a smart speaker and the number is expected to quickly rise over the next decade.
However, these devices are only a shadow of what the technology is capable of. Already, homeowners can change their thermostat settings, turn off their lights, and set their alarm with a quick voice command to their smartphone. In addition, consumers can create specific energy use setting—helping them save money and the environment.
In the future, consumers will be able to automate laundry, lawn mowing, dishes, and other household activities using just their voice. This tech will also help older adults and the disabled track doctor’s appointments, cook healthy food, and report falls and other emergencies to 911.
Voice-enabled technology promises to transform the automobile industry as well, particularly since so many states have passed legislation banning drivers from using their phone while operating a vehicle.
That’s why both Google and Amazon have released voice-enabled tech for the car over the past two years. This technology promises to eventually allow users to verbally start their car, search for a destination and find directions, and report a crash or dangerous driver.
Eventually, cars will be capable of driving themselves to a destination using voice commands alone. This will enable older, disabled consumers to retake control over their lives and get to crucial appointments and errands without relying on others or spotty public transportation.
The medical field has always been a heavy user of voice technology and is poised to become a leader in the current voice-enabled tech movement.
The medical field is also poised to become a leader in the current voice-enabled tech movement.
Doctors are already using listening devices to passively record patient information and to capture clinical notes, identify billing codes, and to use a reference when diagnosing a condition and prescribing a treatment plan.
Software like Kiroku uses a natural language system to record important data and automatically generate clinical notes for physicians. On the other hand, patient communication programs like Merit.ai helps medical offices helps with scheduling, patient reminders, and other front office tasks.
Patients are beginning to use voice-enabled technology as well. For example, Reminder Rosie is invaluable for older patients intent on remaining in their own homes. The software helps patients keep track of medications, allergies, doctors appointments, and other crucial events.
In addition, the program Memory Lane helps users record key information about their lives in a narrative format—helping them preserve their life’s legacy. In addition, patients with memory disorders can use this technology to remind themselves about crucial information and people in their lives.
Voice Enabled Tech in the Workplace
Much of the hype surrounding voice-enabled technology has focused on how it will impact consumer’s lives. However, businesses are investing billions in the technology in order to enhance efficiency, improve customer service, and make standard workplace technology more intuitive.
Amazon’s Alexa for Business is already being used by companies to set up and streamline staff meetings. The device is capable of automatically reserving time slots on employees calendars, starting a meeting with a verbal prompt, and automatically connecting participants. In addition, it can take detailed notes and share an easy-to-read summary with all meeting participants.
This same voice technology is already being integrated into corporate customer service. Companies are using this tech as a replacement for human operators. Voice-enabled chat bots can ask pointed questions to determine customer needs and transfer that client to the right department quickly and easily.
Businesses also expect voice-enabled technology to fill a crucial role in data analytics. Executives will soon be able to request an analysis using just their voice—with the AI behind this voice technology working to collect, analyze, and summarize data without the need for a human analyst.
Voice-enabled technology is already changing the way that consumers interact with technology. Smart devices like Amazon Echo and Google Alexa have brought smart speakers into one-third of American households, while their smartphone counterparts have helped consumers embrace this technology on-the-go.
Businesses across a range of industries are working with software development companies to build reliable, privacy-secured voice technology that is poised to improve quality of life for professionals, homeowners, and medical patients.
Finally, voice-enabled technology promises to allow every consumer to customize essential aspects of their life. This includes in the home, in their vehicles, and in the workplace. Expect to see the rate of change accelerate as more and more companies hop on the voice-enabled tech trend.