The market for devices based on vocal interfaces is finally mature. 2017 was the year of the first significant increase in sales of home assistants and smart speakers, which according to some estimates would have tripled in the last twelve months in the United States. The role of voice assistants, moreover, is becoming increasingly central even within other devices, if it is true that in the USA almost one in two people claims to exploit the functionality of a voice assistant, mainly using a smartphone.
Smart device, payment with voice commands: reality or future?
The development of artificial intelligence – capable of handling complex requests formulated by users – and the design of interactions with voice assistants that are increasingly conversational are the key elements for the dissemination of services that take advantage of the vocal interfaces.
Among the markets that could benefit from the combination of voice interaction and artificial intelligence, there is certainly e-commerce: among the features that can be activated with Alexa there are already those that allow you to buy from Domino’s Pizza, Pizza Hut and Starbucks, even if, according to user reviews, the skills provided by these brands can still be improved.
Giving voice and ears to the objects of everyday life is instead the challenge that concerns other smart devices, such as TV and appliances. Changing the settings of the thermostat by giving a voice command or turning on the lights in your home is already possible (for example, thanks to Nest), but intelligent objects – capable of incorporating instructions and providing feedback in natural language – are inevitably destined to grow. Also, the management of the connected car is already a reality: the skill designed by Ford for Alexa allows to lock and unlock the doors of the car, check the tire pressure and the condition of other components of the vehicle.
Another fruitful area for technologies based on voice input is the payment systems. Voice assistants can already be used to initiate payment procedures. The long-term goal of implementing voice commands in the banking sector is to use the voice as an additional biometric option to strengthen transaction security, alongside the face recognition and fingerprinting.
Voice interfaces: 4 innovative solutions for the business
Voice interfaces based on artificial intelligence are designed to improve the life of people and companies and revolutionize numerous markets. We have collected four examples of applications – for companies – that use voice assistants both to collect user input and to return information, options, and content.
- Voice Commands are useful to manage office and business meetings
The solution Alexa for Business was developed by Amazon to automate the management of the work tasks through voice commands. This service allows you to organize office work, query the databases and manage conference calls through the voice assistant.
- The lamp that changes color and tells you if your KPI is improving
Checking the progress of the business metrics and getting a green light if the business is good: it is already possible, thanks to Business Intelligence Virtually Everywhere created by Sisense.
This effective system allows you to connect Alexa to an intelligent lamp and query the business data for effective visual feedback: for example, if the KPI indicates positive results, the lamp can become green and it will turn red if the progress is worse than expected. “Alexa, how did sales in the last quarter go?” is one of the questions you can ask the voice assistant. In the hope that the lamp will light up with the desired color.
- A Voice Command to check the position of the vehicles
Voice assistants can be very useful in particular sectors, especially where the use of voice-activated systems can optimize multitasking. It is, for example, the case of logistics: the skill created for Alexa by Rhino Fleet Tracking allows locating vehicles and drivers and managing an operator’s commercial fleet. To assign a loading guide to a driver, just order it from your vocal assistant Alexa.
- Advertising through smart speakers: a new space to conquer for brands
Paid search and targeted advertising based on the user’s purchase history? Advertisers are interested in making room for new personal devices with a voice assistant. The ability to offer targeted and intelligent ads can attract brands. However, for now, Amazon has denied the desire to add advertising to Alexa and the rumors that they were already in contact with some brands (like Procter & Gamble) to offer a solution of this kind. Is it just a temporary stop?
The Voice Interaction era has arrived but the Design is not so ready
The devices based on voice-first interactions (such as the systems that accept voice commands but can count on the support of integrated displays to show search results and allow the users to explore and choose options) and voice-only (which receive voice input and return an only vocal output) are destined to experience an increasingly widespread diffusion. Voice assistants already show a good level of intelligence and refinement.
The same cannot be said for the operation of third-party applications, as it can be deduced from the reviews (mostly negative) of the users on the distribution stores. Alongside the expected growth of the artificial intelligence – which will have to be able to interpret commands formulated in natural language more and more – the design of interaction will have to take steps forward to make the conversational architecture between the user and the voice interface as effective as possible and offer an increasingly satisfying experience.