Voice Assistants: The Past, Present, and Future

Voice Assistants: The Past, Present, and Future

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By: Dr. David Bridwell, People Scientist

We’ve been thinking about consumer trends and what the future holds with changes in artificial intelligence, augmented reality, virtual reality, and voice search and voice assistants. In this video, we focus on voice assistants: how companies have creatively used them to engage customers and, consequently, how our perception of them will likely change in the years to come.

One of the interesting things to think about is how the usage of voice assistant technology might increase. Will it be intuitive to speak something aloud instead of reaching for our phone to search for something on the internet? One possibility is that there will be a significant trend, a major new app, that will get really popular and, therefore, get a lot of people comfortable using voice search. This is essentially what Pokemon Go did for augmented reality.

One creative thing that the entertainment industry did is they created an app for the HBO series Westworld. The app runs fans through a maze that is guided by the listener’s voice, and as they traverse the maze, they experience a fantasy world with compelling music and interesting stories created by voice actors.

Burger King, also, created a television commercial that triggered people’s voice assistants to define the Whopper burger. This not only brought awareness to Burger King and the Whopper, but it also generated a lot of conversation about how these different forms of media can interact with each other. You can learn more about that here.

In the future, we might even find voice assistants helping us within the workforce. One of these is called Aera, and it connects the employees with data and insights. Another one called Hey Einstein integrates the customer and employee experiences.

Now, it’s important to note that voice assistants are not confined to smart speakers–they are a user interface and a technology. We’ll be able to find them within glasses or earbuds, and they might be within our cars or hotel rooms or dorm rooms.

One trend, in the future, might be using voice assistants to pay for gas. We could potentially pay while we sit in the car and avoid dealing with the credit card interface at the gas pump all together. Paying for services, like Lyft and Uber, has gotten easier which could open up the potential for easier payments at a gas station. This is an opportunity because when we travel, we often don’t want to take our eyes away from the new environment to look at our phone. We might have voice assistant tour guides that help us find the airport, trains, and restaurants. And they might even help us translate from one language to another, which is an important benefit of voice because it will also allow us to hear the different dialects.

As these voice apps are developed, marketing will play a critical role in making people aware of the apps available as they are created. Marketing will also be useful for helping society trust this technology and to understand how they can use this technology for their benefit.

Another interesting observation is that we seem to personalize voice assistants more than we personalize other devices. As a result, as voice assistant use increases, we’ll get a clearer picture for the degree in which society can embrace this technology.

Another interesting observation is that, because saying the name of the device activates it, most families begin to construct a name for the device just like they would for a family pet or something similar.