"Alexa, what time is my next train to work?" "There is a 20-minute delay. The next train departs from Berlin Central Station at 9:42 and will arrive at Westkreuz at 9:54." "Alexa, please email Janet and Tim to say: Sorry, my train is delayed. I'll be 10 minutes late for our meeting, can we start at 10:10 a.m.?" Conversational interactions like this one will undoubtedly be part of our future. Tech giants like Amazon, Google, Apple, and Microsoft are heavily investing in the race to become the leader in voice technology. Voice interactions have been catapulted into the limelight in the past year, but why is this decade-old technology only now becoming a big deal?
IBM is today launching Watson Assistant, a new service aimed at companies looking to build voice-activated virtual assistants for their own products. Want your hotel's rooms to remember a guest's preferences for air-con? Or your car's dashboard to be controllable via voice interface? IBM's message to companies is: we can help you build that. It's an interesting pitch, especially as voice assistants like Amazon's Alexa are being integrated into new arenas.
No, I won't use the Amazon Echo to buy things. The worry of Alexa messing things up isn't worth the convenience. Although I've been blogging at ZDNet for a couple of months about Amazon, Alexa, and other voice-first devices, this post marks a beginning of sorts. Due to the graciousness of my friend and CRM Playaz partner Paul Greenberg, I have been doing a weekly guest post on his very influential CRM industry blog, Social CRM: The Conversation. But this post is my first one under a new blog I'm calling Voices Carry.
Siri has been a part of Apple's iPhone since 2011. The human voice is one of the most personal and unique aspects of every individual, as well as one of the most sought after means of interacting with our devices. Voice-based interfaces have, in fact, been promised as the next big breakthrough for several decades. Until recently, though, they've been much more future promise than current reality. Even with the much heralded introduction of Apple's Siri back in October of 2011, spoken interactions with computing devices have often been more comical than helpful.