Voice recognition has moved on from the early Siri days and gained a lot of credit in recent years. The early versions of Apple’s voice technology came across as a bit of a gimmick, but the iOS feature has come a long way over the years. Google has made strides with the technology too and Microsoft has released its own Cortana, with an eye on the future of search.
So voice recognition isn’t going away and you can expect to see the technology feature more heavily in new devices – as well as marketing strategies and your daily life. And if you’re struggling to see how voice recognition will make an impact, you only have to look at the big names in search for a clue.
Google making voice recognition the future of search
Google is heavily invested in Voice Search and the search provider’s Head of Voice Recognition – Scott Huffman – says the technology could even replace screens on smartphones in the near future. This might sound extreme (and annoying when you want to watch a video) but when the authority in search says voice recognition is the future of its industry, you have to take notes.
The signs already point in this direction too – with the early days of wearable technology upon us and moves by Google to improve the accuracy of search results for natural speech. Google’s Hummingbird update was engineered to make natural language more effective for queries – the obvious stumbling block between voice recognition and search. It’s a big move in the right direction, but there is a long way to go for the technology to work its way into our everyday lives.
The challenges of voice recognition
The car industry has become one of the pioneers in voice recognition, but it has found the technology a tough nut to crack. The noise produced by an engine and jolting of a car in motion makes it difficult for a computer to distinguish the human voice. While languages, accents and different vocabulary use show how far voice recognition has to come before it can understand the huge variety of users out there.
While perhaps the biggest obstacle for the technology has nothing to do with its limitations. Voice recognition will continue to improve and become more accurate. But none of this matters unless people use the technology to solve everyday problems. Voice recognition in the car makes perfect sense in a “hands-free” environment, while voice commands in the home will prove extremely useful. But how can the likes of Google and Apple expect people to ditch the keypads for their vocal chords when it comes to search?
The evolution of search
In fact, the transition may not be as difficult as it seems. A Google study shows that 55% of teenagers already use Voice Search on a daily basis, while 40% of adults do the same. This is hardly a conclusive statistic, but it’s pretty staggering in the early days of voice search.
It turns out the vast majority of this use relates to asking for directions and the truth is voice search has a long way to go. The technology is far form synonymous with search, but it has made progress in recent years. More importantly, people have adopted the technology – even if it is for a limited use. This will make further integration of voice recognition a very natural procedure and you can expect to see more of the technology as the search industry and user habits evolve.