A virtual assistant or digital assistant or voice assistant or smart speakers, whatever you call them, odds are either you or someone you know is or will soon be using it. By 2021, the estimated number of people using digital assistants is projected to reach 1.8 billion.
A digital advance designed to make life convenient, rather than typing into a digital device, speak to it.
Speech Recognition Technology
Few realize that the speech recognition technology has been around for ages. First introduced in 1952 by Bell Laboratories, “Audrey”, a simple device could recognize numbers spoken by one voice. IBM in 1962 introduced “Shoebox” that could recognize 16 English words. The 70’s saw “Harpy” that could mimic the vocabulary of the average three-year-old and with 80’s came “Julie” who could mimic speech.
It was in the 90’s that voice recognition became much more available and in 2000’s Google helped the technology take a giant leap with its voice search app and since then there’s no looking back.
The Growth of Personal Assistants
So after 65 years of the first voice recognition device, everyone from doll makers to Defense department have shown interest in voice and today it is employed in our phones, cars, houses offering a new level of convenience or as some people believe, intrusion.
The penetration of voice–first devices are expected to reach 55% within the next 4 years and it comes as no surprise that many companies are working towards making their mark in this growing market.
Convenience Over Privacy
AI voice apps and devices are yet another examples of how people all across are willing to trade personal information for a little more convenience added to their life. What’s more many are actually paying for the priviledge offered. In today’s fast pace world convenience trumps everything for consumers and technology-based companies understand that well.
What It Holds For Marketers
With AI-powered devices, everything is search-related and instead of typing consumers are now speaking to them. Already over one billion searches are conducted by voice every month and by 2020, two years from now, it is predicted about a third of all searches will be conducted without a screen. People every day are joining the voice search option and finding more comfort with it, including those using voice speakers. This may help marketers craft friendly marketing efforts along with written keyword strategies.
The work of the digital assistant is to assist in many digital tasks by first learning about consumer background and preferences, context and motivations and then search for the right content, recommend or deliver it in real-time. The future of digital assistant is bright. More and more personal business tasks will be automated in the future, thus freeing workers from performing repetitive, monotonous tasks. Besides, digital assistants have the potential to create a more supportive and inclusive environment.