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Voice Assistants

September 22, 2021

Do you remember the movie called Her released in 2013? In the film the main character Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) bought an AI operating system that was voiced by Scarlett Johansson (Samantha in the film). In the movie computers have become so sophisticated that they can communicate with people. So much so, that Samantha and Theodore have many discussions about life and love together. Soon, the two characters develop a kind of an attachment to one another, very similar to human relations, even though one of the parties is not really a person. 

The film went on to win an Oscar for the Best Original Screenplay, and people generally thought that the movie was an epic futuristic fantasy. Nobody really thought that this type of plot could become real life… but  jump to 2021 and voice assistants have become a major part of our lives!

For several years now, there has been a steady upwards trend in the use of voice assistants. Statistics show that a third of people in the USA use voice assistants, eMarketer (2019), with a further 71% of people saying that they would rather use the voice search feature to search for information online, instead of typing their queries in on a device, PWC (2018). Further to this, 27% of all internet users around the world use the voice assistant feature on their mobile devices, GlobalWebIndex (2018).  

Although, voice assistants were not always so popular… When voice search first appeared in around 2011, it didn’t exactly capture a lot of people’s attention, and those who were interested were a little sceptical about using a voice assistant. People thought of voice assistants as more of a novelty, rather than an important feature. To that end, voice assistants were not used on a daily basis by most individuals. 

However, tech has come a long way since then and people have started to put more trust in voice assistant softwares, which is why they have increased so much in popularity. Voice searching is becoming a part of our everyday life — 52% of people place voice search speakers in the living room, another 25% in the bedroom and 22% of people noted that they have a voice assistant in the kitchen, which confirms its growing popularity, Kleinberg (2018). In addition to this, voice assistants are mainly used to search for music, to check the weather forecast and to set alarms, Adobe (2019).

Let’s dive deeper into the world of AI now to learn more about voice assistants and their benefits. 

What Are The Main Benefits Of Using Voice Assistants?

The main benefit of using a voice search feature is that it’s incredibly convenient. For example, a research report from an Adobe Analytics Survey shows that 70% of voice service users browse music, 64% would like to know the weather, 53% ask funny questions, 47% search the net, 46% listen to news reports and 34% ask their assistant for directions. As you can see, using a voice search feature can help you to complete some of the most mundane and time consuming tasks that clog up our lives too. 

In addition to the benefits above, if you use a voice assistant you know you’ve got 24 hour support. So, if ever something happened to you at home, you could talk to the device and it could call for help. Further to this, voice assistants are handsfree tools, so you can use them when you’re cooking/painting/swimming because they just need to listen to what you’ve got to say to work effectively!

People also choose to use voice searching features because it feels nice to talk to someone that sounds like a human. 

So, as you can see there are many benefits to having and using voice assistant software, which is why the battle to have the best voice assistant software has already begun, and the competition will only get more fierce as time goes on. 

So, who’s competing in this market? More on this below.

Examples Of Voice Assistants That Are Used Today

Voice assistants allow users to easily control their devices. Using your voice, you can access your calendar, search the net, look for books/cafes/restaurants, check the routes you need to take, find out the weather or news, listen to music, set reminders, make appointments, send messages, open applications on your phone and much more. 

Today, the majority of the IT giants around us are developing voice assistant programs, so let’s take a look at their versions in more detail.

Siri

Siri is a voice assistant designed to help users seamlessly interact with their iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple Watch, HomePod and Mac. You can ask the program any question or you can give it a voice command. For example, you can ask Siri to set a reminder for you, you can ask it to pop a note in your calendar or you can get it to search the internet. 

Google Assistant

Google Assistant has changed significantly since its launch in 2016. It is one of the most advanced and dynamic apps available today, and it works on a variety of devices, including refrigerators to headphones, from speakers to cars.

Amazon Alexa

Alexa can play music, provide information and news, tell you the weather forecast, tell you a joke and control your smart home. It is located in the cloud and it is constantly growing.

Bixby Voice Assistant

Bixby is an assistant developed by Samsung. It was first introduced alongside the Galaxy S8 and S8+. You can interact with Bixby using voice or text. Just press and hold the button and talk to the program as you would to your friend. You can use Bixby to access your settings, to open apps and to call someone, for example

Final thoughts

In the future, voice assistants will likely be one of the main ways that we search for information in the digital world, make calls and use our smartphones. With this in mind, businesses need to work on improving their models to fit this new AI age. 

Voice search is not only used by adults, but also by children who can’t write but can give a request using their voice. Voice commands can also make digital technology more accessible for people with poor eyesight, or to those who have health problems that make typing difficult for them. This technology can become very inclusive, making the lives of vulnerable groups of users much easier.

One of the factors hindering wider usage of voice search technology is the lack of awareness about the main features of it, its functions and the companies that develop it. 

What can we expect in the future? Will developers create a world that resembles the one we see in Her? It is impossible to say, but whatever happens one thing’s for sure, the voice assistant industry will definitely need testers who will continuously test, examine and analyze the technology being used before it reaches an end-user. 

Voice assistants are popular now and this popularity is only going to grow, which means that there’ll be plenty of work in this field

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