The story of computing has tracked how our machines have gotten smarter through the decades. Per Moore’s Law, processing power doubles every two years. Now we blow up candy and find dates on pocket supercomputers that were unimaginable to researchers sweating over room-sized machines only decades ago.
Technology has also improved how we communicate with machines. From punch cards to command lines to windows, mice, and touchscreens, the way we interact with our computers keeps evolving. The next leap is, naturally, to start talking to machines. Siri has proven a serviceable tool, though often more frustrating than anything (“I don’t care what the temperature is in Tucson! I want to call my brother!”). Google’s Assistant has shown some of those same growing pains. Still, the idea of accessing functionality and information across multiple apps with voice is clearly where things are going.
In our interview with VentureBeat’s editor, Blaise Zerega, he says he’s excited to see where voice-activated tech will take us: “In the same way that the mobile phone changed everything, voice-activated, intelligent assistance is going to really change everything. Instead of having to take your phone out, unlock it, speak to Siri (she's not going to understand you) or type something, you can just yell it out in the room: “Hey, Alexa, what year was gold discovered in California?” That changes things a lot, and not just in the way we interact with the device.”
Now you see voice-activated gadgets that work like bots, connecting your TV, thermostat, and Twitter feed in one place. We can see where this is going: a device in the home or on the body (like a watch) that hears your command and responds: call home, order a salad, turn the lights off at the office, order an Uber, tell me where the nearest hyperloop station is.
Devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home are only the beginning, but they give us the first taste of the ambient interfaces of the future. Holler a question from your couch and get an answer. Yell that it’s too hot in the living room and it’ll stop being too hot. Zerega talks about how “information will be woven into the fabric of our lives.” My voice is my passport, indeed.
My Computer Really Gets Me
Companies recognize this shift, and are now offering the ability to easily add voice interface to products. Voice-recognition will become a standard for most products as advancements in artificial intelligence (like natural language processing) continue.
By understanding what we say and, more importantly, what we mean, AI-driven tech works to further remove barriers to human-to-computer interaction. It’s the continuation of the same process that took us from needing to know obscure DOS commands, to cumbersome multi-click UIs, to swiping right. The trend is to make they way we communicate with our machines as natural and intuitive as possible. And few things are more human than the act of speech.
Want to learn more about how AI is shaping our relationship to technology? Check out our latest guide, AI for CRM: Everything You Need to Know.