Not only are more people talking about IoT, increasingly, they are talking to IoT. Voice technology has emerged as a key ingredient not only for consumer segments but also in industrial applications. On the shop floor, talking to machines keeps workers’ hands-free, or at least free to pound out more parts. Here we look in detailed on why voice is heavily used in IoT.
It’s simpler than writing not only because it evades the formalities of writing, but it’s hands-free. Indeed some 87% of consumers considering buying a smart speaker said they wanted one in order to ask it questions without having to type them, according to a recent study by Edison Research. Just as talking to another person tends to be easier than writing or typing to them, so too does voice remove friction in our interactions with devices.
From a technological adoption standpoint, this doesn’t just improve the interface. Speaking over typing or tapping, it unlocks entirely new markets. Consider, for instance, how this enables elderly folks to use home care apps, disabled folks to enjoy internet services, play games, live more independently or even offers kids story time enhancement or an easy way to engage with parents or family members remotely.
Since the dawn of civilization, speaking has been our most natural form of communication. We are innately wired to learn and produce language with relatively little effort. Moreover, voice conveys umpteen unseen elements of communication such as emotion, tone, cultural nuance, etc. which we naturally absorb and use to gauge interactions. This is the inherent personalization we employ for social interaction.
Another long-held human trait is imbuing our objects with human characteristics; we trust and identify with things when we anthropomorphize them. When devices talk to us, however robotic they may sound, they are immediately engendered with personality. Recent advances in processing speed and algorithms enable devices to respond dynamically, incorporating context from diverse data sets, customer preferences, and real-time contextual signals.
It’s just everywhere
Although consumers rarely use the term ‘Internet of Things’ to describe their devices, the internet and sensors now pervade virtually all consumer electronics, appliances, and the machines and infrastructure we use every day. While not all consumers have connected coffee-makers or connected cars, consider how modern consumers are empowered with devices and data-driven services in each realm of life, many of which are already benefiting from voice interactions.
Our selves: Smartphones and wearables pioneered voice for millions of users. In the not-so-distant future, we will see hearables such as voice-controlled in-ear computers as a supplement and possibly replace smartphone features like navigation, social media, and calendar notifications.
Our home: Smart speakers, TVs, cameras, remote controllers, refrigerators, thermostats, even social robots aren’t just popping up in homes and apartments everywhere, they’re all using voice recognition to allow people to benefit from in-home technologies without constantly staring at screens or swiping through apps.
In-transport: From cars to motorcycles, and even in public transportation, speech recognition is already being used to control music and media, make and take calls, navigate, even securely authenticate identity.
In-store: From personalized digital signage to augmented reality to customer service robots, brands and retailers are using all manner of in-store touchpoints to improve and streamline the shopper experience without losing the ‘human touch.’
More Natural Experience with Voice for IoT
Voice can be used to communicate and to control, and with proper consideration of fitness for purpose, can result in a more natural experience for the user. In some cases, voice presents a vital hands-free experience for users, an extra layer of security and even lower build costs than expensive touchscreen panels.