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23th November 2020                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Nowadays every family has a new member in their household; a relative either called Alexa, Siri or Cortana. The prevalence of voice interaction and speech recognition has brought about a deeper level of engagement with Artificial Intelligence. Speech recognition is a form of technology that recognises spoken words and converts it to text. Think “Hey Siri, text Mum ‘I am not at home’”. Such technology allows users to communicate hands free. Under this umbrella is voice recognition in which is the technology for identifying a person based on their voice. 

Dominating tech companies including Facebook, Amazon, Google and Apple have recently started to incorporate this feature in their newest offerings through devices such as Google Home and Siri. 

Potential Reason for introducing Voice Interaction Technology 

Voice interaction technologies are slowly becoming a standard feature for most products. In a world where users want to become more reliant on technology for unwanted tasks, voice recognition is an essential need in which users feel as if they have their own personal assistant to perform these duties. It is also a constant goal of companies to improve on accuracy around context and content to ensure a personalised and accommodating experience for their customers. 

Research has shown that the use of virtual assistants with speech recognition capabilities is forecasted to keep increasing in future years, from 60.5 million people in the United States in 2017 to 62.4 million in 2018 (Emarketer, 2017) 

To build a more unique and robust experience, the technology has become better at handling challenges including accents and background noise. Developments in natural language processing have improved so much so that it is argued that they are on par with humans. For example, the word error rate for Microsoft’s voice technology has been recorded at 5.1% by the company, while Google reports that it has reduced its rate to 4.9%. With the rate of development and positive reception, it is expected to be incorporated into everyday life through cars and refrigerators. Not only in personal life, but for work, too, are virtual assistants tapping into. Amazon claims that Amazon offers Alexa for Businessa virtual assistant that helps professionals manage their schedule, keep track of tasks and set reminders. This business management platform is another reason why voice integration is becoming highly relevant in today’s business climate. 

Other Notable Mobile Device Applications

  • Siri by Apple 

First introduced in 2011 with the iPhone 4, the virtual assistant was wired to serve many purposes including looking up recipes, reading current affairs or describing the weather forecast. Today, Siri’s capabilities include translating, playing songs and transferring funds between bank accounts. Because of its machine learning capabilities, it can be programmed with a plethora of requests through voice command or text

  • Cortana by Microsoft

The tech giant released its own voice-activated virtual assistant named Cortana in 2017. The home speaker and mobile device application gives reminders, notes and lists to aid everyday tasks. This application is downloadable from the Apple Store and Google Play and can be run on personal computers, smart speakers, or mobile phones. Its more specific tasks include helping users control music, queue playlists, alter the volume or stop and start tracks. 

  • Google Home and Assistant 

Google’s voice-activated virtual assistant possesses skills including sending and requesting payments via Google Pay, streaming of music or troubleshooting its corresponding mobile phone devices. Assistant is available on devices including Android and iOS, smart watches, smart TVs and Android auto-enabled cars. 

The $55 billion voice recognition industry has been forecasted to grow at a rae of 11 percent from 2016 to 2024. The technology has found good use in multiple industries as well as a household setting. Among the market-dominating tech companies, their offerings revolve around scheduling, reminders, managing playlists, emails, making food orders and a multitude of online searches. These companies have proven to be competitive in their offerings as well; whilst Apple was the catalyst for this opportunity, Siri has proved to be less smart than Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant, with limited features compared to competitors. With its forecasted growth, and increasing competition, there is no question on how speech recognition is a driving force for business value and personal life. 

Michaela Agius

Michaela Agius

Digital Marketing Analyst at AI Australia

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