Alexa! Bring me the future!
If you use a smartphone or a smart speaker at home, you must have at least come across the voice assistant, accidentally at least.
Assistants like Siri, Alexa, Bixby, etc. might sound like useful tools to you. On the other hand, these tools can be life-changing for some people.
One or more of the top four voice assistants are probably available to you right now, depending on your device.
Let’s take a look and see how voice technologies structure our future.
With more voice assistants and their smart speaker devices coming to market, it can be hard to see the rise of voice assistants as a whole. Contrary to popular belief, voice assistants preceded the introduction of the Amazon Echo. To help you understand how the voice revolution has changed since its beginnings in the 1960s, we’ve created a timeline of voice assistants. There are four clear milestones for voice assistants that are distinct when looking at the timeline.
- IBM became the first to release a voice assistant. The very basic technology could only understand 16 words and 9 digits.
- We learned how to track natural language in text from Microsoft’s text-based virtual assistant, Clippy.
- The first voice assistant to reach a large audience was Siri, and others quickly followed, including Google Now and Microsoft’s Cortana.
- 2014 saw the launch of Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant and Echo smart speaker.
Now let’s get to how voice assistants change people’s lives.
#1 Phone Accessibility
Making a phone call, sending a text, or even setting a hairdresser’s appointment or reserving a table at a restaurant, without talking to anyone.
In 2018, Google announced Duplex, their AI service that makes a call on your behalf to a restaurant to reserve a table. In 2020, Google announced that it would be rolling out an update to Duplex that added more features, such as booking a salon appointment.
#2 Home Control
For you, it might be cool to be able to turn off the light from the comfort of your own bed, but for mobility-impaired folks, turning on appliances and locking their doors using Google Home or Alexa is a dream come true.
Getting up and frequently risking falls is completely eliminated by the use of apps like Google Home and Alexa.
#3 Driving Around
While they might be set in stone right now, in the future, more visually impaired people will be able to move around independently using self-driving cars that are voice activated.
According to Elon Musk, “The car will be able to find you in a parking lot, pick you up, and take you all the way to your destination without human intervention.” Wouldn’t that be exciting for a lot of people stuck in their homes waiting to hitch a ride?
Just think of the possibilities.
#4 Find Lost Devices
This one is pretty common. You are busy multitasking and you really don’t know where you left off your phone.
You just whisper to Siri, “Hey Siri, where is my iPhone?”, and it rings to let you know its location, even if left on silent.
I’m sure at least once you did this, and if you didn’t, now you know.
#5 Music, For All
For some people, music can be therapeutic and an essential tool to control their mental and physical wellbeing. All voice assistants let you play music just by making a simple request.
Next time you mutter, “Alexa, put on some music.” Think of how useful that feature can be for someone with a cognitive need for music right on the spot.
In the future, everybody will use less effort to acknowledge everything, making fewer calls, sending fewer texts, never bothering to get the door or open the curtains.
Voice commands and voice assistants are the inception of a great revolution, where you just give an order and things move around.