People are getting excited about voice because the technology now works far more effectively than it did just a few years ago. Advances in speech recognition and natural language processing – aka understanding the intent behind the words – have made voice a viable consumer proposition, says JWT Intelligence in its new Speak Easy report.
Speech recognition error rates are apparently now at human parity. And further improvements are in the pipeline as machine learning benefits from ongoing investment on the part of the world’s tech giants along with the growing datasets produced by widespread consumer adoption. The virtual assistant market is set to be worth more than $3 billion by 2020, according recent forecasts.
More than one-third of UK smartphone users are currently using voice technology at least oncea month, and one-fifth use it at least weekly, says JWT. Current voice users are significantly more likely to be young, male and affluent –50% of 18-to-34 year-olds, 43% of men and 48% of people with a household income of more than £50k use voice monthly. And they seem to like the technology. Among early adopters of Amazon Echo, 60% report that Alexa has become integral to their daily routine.
The core use driver for voice is efficiency. The main reasons for getting onboard voice is that it is convenient, plus consumers also enjoy that it’s simple to use and that it’s faster than typing.
When it works, voice technology allows people to accomplish tasks quickly and easily. “It’s about being super-helpful, super-efficient, not getting in the way, building something that allows me to get the job done with minimal fuss,” says Duncan Anderson, chief technology officer of IBM Watson Europe.