Four ways to explore the use of voice technology for your business. Apple's HomePod smart speaker could be on sale in the next few weeks, with reports that the first shipments have finally left the factories. HomePod was supposed to be on sale in December for that all-important holiday shopping season, but Apple delayed it at the last minute saying it needed " a little more time before it's ready". But it's likely to arrive soon -- in the US, UK, and Australia, at least. That means the HomePod will finally go on sale more than three years after Amazon launched the Echo smart speaker, which kickstarted the market and still dominates it, and more than a year behind Google Home.
In this opinion piece, Melotti Media founder Christopher Melotti (pictured below) explores how voice-activated virtual assistants will significantly change the landscape of marketing, content creation and copywriting. The next revolution in technology and marketing is voice. The age of voice-activated virtual assistants and vocal command technology is upon us – Apple's Siri, Google's Home, Amazon's Alexa, Samsung's Bixby, Microsoft's Cortana, Ozlo, X.ai, just to name a few. History shows that the businesses who embrace new opportunities like this are the ones to reap to rewards, while those who lag behind become quickly ignored by customers. My message to brands: don't get left behind.
With the power of the human brain increasing manifold, the degree of technological advancement is also correspondingly getting infinite. With Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT) clearly making its presence felt across several industries, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning are not far behind. In fact, the future looks to be largely governed by these two forces so much so that several businesses are driving their investment in this direction, banking on the innovative benefits that it promises. AI unfolds itself as a significant game-changer by being a key player in the process of digital transformation for a wide range of industries. In order to understand how AI is culminating to be the next driving force in the technology paradigm, let us understand how it all started and what its primary capabilities are.
For technology users who have marveled at the ability of Siri or Alexa to recognize their voice, consider this: The National Security Agency has apparently been way ahead of Apple or Amazon. The agency has at its disposal voice recognition technology that it employs to identify terrorists, government spies, or anyone they choose -- with just a phone call, according to a report by The Intercept. The disclosure was revealed in a recently published article, part of a trove of documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The publication wrote that by using recorded audio, the NSA is able to create a "voiceprint," or a map of qualities that mark a voice as singular, and identify the person speaking. The documents also suggest the agency is continuously improving its speech recognition capabilities, the publication noted.
By Varun Mathur Mobile banking was one of the first apps for smartphones. Financial brands led the charge on the first mainstream wearable, the Apple Watch. Now, conversational interfaces including voice-first interfaces are the next frontiers to explore as consumers increasingly look for speed, convenience and security in their banking tasks. Why should banks invest in voice? Because, it is the most natural means of communication and can lead to more personalized interactions.
In the 2013 movie Her, a virtual personal assistant named Samantha quickly evolves from merely competent to awesomely so. Rather than merely scheduling meetings, Samantha becomes a life coach, cajoling the main character, Theodore, a writer, to publish his letters and to move on with his divorce. That movie is science fiction, but those who are attuned to the rapid improvements in artificial intelligence say a version of Samantha (minus the later romantic attachment and singularity) is on the near horizon. For businesses, the promise of AI is that Samanthas will be embedded across all aspects of the organization. Such agents will analyze data, discover patterns over time and then make decisions based on predictive analysis.
In August 2015, a number of carefully selected Facebook users in the Bay Area discovered a new feature on Facebook Messenger. Known as M, the service was designed to rival Google Now and Apple's Siri. A personal assistant that would answer questions in a natural way, make restaurant reservations and help with Uber bookings, M was meant to be a step forward in natural language understanding, the virtual assistant that – unlike Siri – wasn't a dismal experience. Fast forward a couple of years, and the general purpose personal assistant has been demoted within Facebook's product offering. Poor M. The hope was that it would tell users jokes and act as a guide, life coach and optimisation tool.
IBM was one of the first to bring voice search assistants into the travel experience with the launch of their Watson-enabled robot concierge, "Connie" in Hilton Hotels in 2016, but leaps in technology will see more and more travel apps and hardware integrating voice and natural language search into their user interfaces in 2018, sparked by the mainstream success of the Amazon Alexa. Consumers will be able to talk to their digital assistant, whether through their smartphone, Alexa or other device to check flight details, search for a hotel or book tickets immediately. The difference in adoption of voice search across different parts of the world is significant. Travelport's recent Digital Traveller research showed that while just 33% of consumers in the UK had used voice Search, 72% in China had. But in the US, the number of smartphone owners using voice assistants has doubled to more 60% in just 2 years.
Unless you've been living under a rock, probably been reading and seeing a lot about artificial intelligence. And even if that's the case, AI has probably invaded your consciousness in one form or another. People have a lot of different conceptions of AI. For some, it means the end of the world is nigh: The robot revolution will be rising and annihilating humanity any day now. While it's impossible to rule anything out, artificial intelligence is really meant to help us make systems more efficient.
Nearly every booth / product we saw had voice as a feature for control. This is a big difference compared to last year, when voice and voice assistants were still being touted as an innovative and differentiating feature. While voice control is still very much in the early adopter phase for practical mass-market adoption, it was near ubiquitous at CES. Speaking of voice assistants, the big battle at CES 2018 seemed to be between Google's Assistant and Amazon's Alexa, and both companies took different marketing approaches at the trade show. Google opted for the brute force in-your-face spend a ton of money approach. Everywhere you looked, from the billboards on the hotels on the Strip to even the Las Vegas Monorail, Google showed up there.