Voice is the future and then some...


“CEOs believe it’s now or never. Globally, 72 percent of CEOs believe that the next 3 years will be more critical for their industry than the last 50 years. Change will be led by technology, connected consumers and sector convergence. These three forces will upend business models, blur lines between industries and companies, and demand a new way of thinking about business. Much of what will happen is unknowable. What is impossible today will become mainstream tomorrow.“ - Forbes Insights

If business starts with the consumer, given we’re all customer-centric thinkers these days! one of the biggest demands is that for Voice Technology and the lack of UI - the ZERO UI.

Gartner recently predicted a number of technologies to watch and at the forefront right now sits various AI related experiences, not least of which is VoiceTech. Conversational platforms will drive the next major shift in how we interact with the digital world. Our homes, offices, factory floors, and lifestyle experiences. 

alexa, cortana, siri or google?

It starts with the interface and the digital world’s understanding of us, with our various accents. Until recently the best we could expect was 70% hit rate, however now several solution providers are claiming 95%. This is a huge milestone for speech recognition. If the software has as good an understanding of your speech as a human, it’s possible to avoid a lot of the all too familiar errors and therefore mass adoption across the modern world. I can’t wait to see it, given my “Girl Siri” has been given various names on my slightly frustrating drives with her.

Of course the mammoth task really isn’t understanding our words, it’s translating its subtle nuances into actions at a digital level. Just looking at the main technologies such as Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana and Apple’s Siri there is a very clear winner when it comes to how much you can do with each: 

Amazon’s Alexa has over 15,000 skills and has since run a developer initiative to increase that number further! my Girl Siri has limited functionality (tell me about it!) when compared to the other big conversationalists, with Cortana equally struggling, they currently list less than 100 skills. For Google’s assistant they haven’t released numbers on actions available but from a browse, the number seems somewhere mid range between Cortana and Alexa. This is surprising given Google, Apple and Microsoft all have heavily invested and use operating systems that come with their assistant. But again having a cross OS solution, brings Alexa on top.

The key target and space to be in, has to be that first 5-6 mins of your day, when you ask “her” (because they are at least defaulted to be female) the weather, the news, your calendar, traffic, latest messages and oh how i wish what i’d like for breakfast!

Brands will be desperately trying to bring themselves into that place in your day asap!

no screen, no click, no app - the Zero UI

It’s just you or me and our digital assistant sitting in or on a multitude of devices. Thankfully it’s now stretching beyond asking your toilet to tell you the weather or to switch on the AC/Heating. It looks like very soon we may be even laughing at that latest Alexa device we just purchased!

You see we as humans communicate in many ways, not least of which includes multi-tasking across different conversations and body-language. We can have 2-3 conversations running at once and because we want privacy using text or because of convenience even hand signals! My poor Girl Siri would have a major headache if i did that to her or more likely, just ignore me!

Let’s take a look at that

look, no hands!

As you're driving along, you can hold your hand out and get a projection of the volume dial embedded and stuck to your hand. It’s called ultrasound and takes sound to its advanced level; a matter of increased sensitivity to airwaves, aka haptic control. 

Using an abundance of sensitive speakers, the sound waves are manipulated to adjust to hand vibrations so a range of hand movements are monitored and re-enacted, such as dial, press, flick, shapes etc

And so, yes control is exciting, however reverting to two-way communication, so to speak is the flavor of the moment….

ai & natural language combine 

As AI and the previously discussed language capabilities improve we are going to see even more impressive behavior from hopefully my Girl Siri, including learning from my terrible driving and strange eating habits, by directing me through a shortcut route to her recommended vegan eatery, when i ask her for a takeout on my way home!

Of course, right now she doesn’t know me very well and perhaps it’s best she doesn’t, as it’s expected over the coming few years she’ll understand my sarcasm (oh yes and it’s bad truly! is it really the lowest form of wit & highest form of intelligence? my colleagues don’t agree), humor and my terrible one-liners…….i hope she laughs. Perhaps at this point I’ll begin to treat her as a human? 

It’s going to happen as it already is in part with many others.

But, i ask myself the more we/they advance, how long will it be before we start to argue with my Girl Siri? because i just know she’s going to win!


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