Voice AI: 2020 and Beyond

Google’s Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri– the conversational user interfaces and voice assistants have completely changed the way we interact with computing devices. With our computational capability, we have taught the machines to interact with us through voice, and over the years our ability to design languages has advanced and so have our interfaces.

Technology has taken a giant leap from when Graphical User Interface (GUI) was introduced to simple touch interfaces for smartphones that made computers accessible on handsets, to the present day voice interfaces like Alexa and Siri that are hugely impacting our lives. An early 2018 study by Spiceworks on AI chatbots and intelligent assistants showed that 24% of large businesses and 16% of small businesses have already adopted such technologies while a combined 27% are expected to adopt in the next 12 months. The study also found out that Cortana, Siri and Google Assistant are the widely-used intelligent assistants in the workplace

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The Growth of Voice Assistants

With the accelerated pace at which AI and cloud technology are advancing, anyone who is smart with technology can build an AI system, which was only a dream a few years back. Over a period of time, with the increased use of voice interfaces, more data will be gathered enabling algorithms to work better, thereby improving the speech recognition accuracy. Soon we’ll have devices interacting with us.

Gartner predicted in April 2015 that by the end of 2018, 30 percent of all interactions with technology would be through “conversations” with smart machines, and many of them by voice.

According to ComScore, “By 2020, 50% of all searches will be carried out via voice.”

Further, the report by Tractica, the market intelligence firm says that the users for virtual digital assistants will grow from a mere 390 million worldwide users in 2015 to 1.8 billion by the end of 2021. While the revenue is forecasted to grow from $1.6 billion in 2015 to $15.8 billion in 2021.

With more and more industries starting to use speech recognition technology, the market share of the technology is estimated to grow at 35% rate annually between 2016 and 2024, according to Global Market Insights, Inc.

For voice AI to succeed, technology has to continually improve and evolve. Industries such as hospitality, healthcare, automotive, etc. will greatly benefit from voice AI in the years to come.

We have already started seeing the benefits. With improved speech recognition, faster Internet speed, cloud computing, and tech-savvy smartphone user has led to the first generation of virtual personal assistants.

The five drivers for voice AI include:

  • Recognizing the language and user-specific vocabulary
  • Identifying and getting used to accents
  • Understanding the intent that allows you to convert speech into action
  • Understanding and translating actions into a user’s surroundings or workflow
  • Providing control around data security, ownership, and privacy

Impact of Voice AI in 2020

Advanced voice AI technology will soon be all-pervasive, as intelligent user interface technology will seamlessly integrate into daily life and eventually will affect almost all enterprises.

We have already seen its impact on customer service. A lot of customer service functions have been already automated using the evolving NLP in the internet of things (IoT). Chatbots are increasingly being used to interact with customers. The value proposition is that it saves a lot of time, manpower and is also productive.

The voice assistants are very useful and are can increasingly make our lives better, smarter and more connected. Today you can get the weather forecast, reminders, news for the day, unlock cars and homes, and get your schedule update. A voice assistant can send messages, update shopping list, and make calls, set appointments and more. They can initiate or complete many other jobs.

The next paradigm shift would be self-learning computing. Rather than learning complex interfaces, enterprises will voice-enable their interfaces, enabling users to interact more freely and give more flexible commands.

You won’t just have self-driving cars, cashier less stores, automated restaurants — there will be Voice-AI web everywhere, integrated with everything. You’ll have the next generation growing up with Voice-AI and voice controlled bots.

Voice is the interface for connected homes. It will control your home devices, including thermostat, lighting, sound system, appliances, and alarm systems.

Major cars manufacturers will adopt intelligent, voice-driven systems for entertainment and location-based search. AV entertainment systems will depend on spoken voice for content discovery to match different ways users think about content.

Voice-controlled wearable devices will be popular at workplaces, such as hospitals, warehouses, laboratories, and factory floors.

With the voice AI technology growing exponentially, it is becoming extremely popular, with industries competing to be a part of it. The voice AI is going to be a game changer since the Internet and Web in terms of how consumers interact with services.

Going forward both voice and speech recognition is going to take a giant leap in both functionality and intelligence. The biggest plus will be people moving away from the screen. This is going to take time, but the beginning has already been made, which is exciting.

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Voice AI: 2020 and Beyond was originally published in Becoming Human: Artificial Intelligence Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.