Now that consumers are growing more accustomed to searching and performing tasks through speech, the potential behind voice has rocketed.

  • Thanks to Alexa, Google Home and Siri, voice applications are coming closer to home and will only continue to develop and infiltrate our lives and marketing.
  • The future of voice is an exciting one, but as with any technological advancements, it is important to consider the implications it will have on human behaviour and connections.

In-skill purchasing

In-skill purchasing (ISP) has become available with Alexa and will soon be released with Google Home. While some users may think this is another method to waste money, the opportunity ISP will bring to voice is immense. The ability to purchase through speech will highlight this platform to companies that are interested in financial return. While the hype surrounding this development is still quite muted, there is room for this to parallel platforms like the App Store and Google Play.

As this continues to innovate, there will be an increased standardisation of payment gateways and frameworks that are driven by voice. This will ignite a desire in creative brands to adopt this and search for new avenues by which they will sell their products or services with voice in mind, with the end goal being the most convenient service for their consumers.

More marketing budget for skills

The number of skills in the Alexa repertoire has already hit 70,000 since its release towards the end of 2014. Similar to standing out in a sea of intrusive ads that are all trying to connect with viewers, the importance of a marketing and release strategy when launching a new skill or product is paramount.

For example, when launching mobile apps, brands and start-ups have noticed that the launch alone is not enough. Companies need to shout about their new app so that it stands out amongst the masses and reaches the desired consumer, skills are no different.

Voice assistants are expanding

Consumers have only just come to terms with the fact that voice assistants have infiltrated their homes but now, in the last year alone, they have evolved and now are available as glasses, headphones and driving assistants. The spread of voice assistants has only just begun and the opportunities for future development are so promising with a high chance that voice will be the next hot fashion commodity.

However, with voice assistants expanding past the home, this brings an inevitable change in human behaviour which marketers will once again have to learn from and adapt strategies accordingly.

Assisted living

While the technological advancements that voice recognition can provide users is futuristic and ‘cool’, voice can also create new levels of accessibility for the people that need help the most. It all began with help using the internet, changing TV channels or reminders for taking medication, but now the progress in accessibility is reaching and solving new issues.

Alexa has been brought to care homes and can not only remind people to drink water and take meds but now is helping them communicate more with nurses and family members with greater ease. This similarly will help alleviate some degree of loneliness and frustration as it enables people less able to feel more empowered.

Another recent development from Alexa Skill is, ‘Show and Tell’ which, with the support of visual recognition, helps blind people identify what items they are holding in their house, making daily life significantly easier for them.

Although these developments show so much promise and are encouragingly solving problems, we should tread carefully to ensure that voice assistants do not replace human relationships that people in need still do and will always rely on.

So, what’s the problem?

Diversity

“Alexa and Google Assistant are 30% less likely to understand non-American accents and the average accuracy rate of a while male using Alexa is 92% whereas a mixed-race female is 69%.”

The main cause of these worrying stats is ‘creators’ bias’, but there is still hope. With the developments in voice technology bringing such promise, companies such as the BBC are investing the time to focus on these issues. They are currently in the process of launching their voice assistant, but as part of trial and testing, they are inviting staff worldwide to participate and add to the library of accents it can understand which shows a step in the right direction.

Privacy

There is a little voice in every consumer's head, telling them their Google Home or Alexa appliance is listening to their every word but Google has responded. They stated that if a user says, “Hey Google, are you listening to me?”, this will trigger a deep link to privacy setting in the app which will educate them on how their privacy is considered.

It is clear that voice has the potential to solve problems and bring an extra level of ease to consumers’ lives but a key danger to consider is the impact this will have on human behaviour and how we can make the most of this.

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