Between Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant, the world seems to have a lot of voice-activated assistants these days. Voice recognition has grown immensely from its early days and is now being integrated into an ever-growing number of devices and applications.
As its popularity increases, users become more familiar with the main traits, as well as the pros and cons of voice-activated technology and its best uses. Below, these 10 professionals from Forbes Technology Council share what they think all consumers should know about their voice-activated technology.
1. It’s About Trust
Remember that it is a service provider and not a detached device that stores your voice recordings. Before buying a voice-activated device, make sure you understand what data the provider will collect and where it will be stored. Also, check if the vendor had any security issues with its devices and how they acted on the issue, so you’ll see how the vendor treats consumers and how seriously they take privacy. – Ilia Sotnikov, Netwrix
2. Voice-Activated Tech Can Boost Productivity
Alexa was originally designed as an executive assistant for daily life in the home environment. But the opportunities that voice assistants open up are just as valuable in a business setting. Ordering supplies, sending messages and scheduling events in your calendar are just a few of this tech’s capabilities. Don’t be afraid to experiment. You can automate more manual tasks than you think. – Marc Fischer, Dogtown Media LLC
3. Security And Privacy Are Key
Beware of live microphones—like web search before it, voice search represents a tremendous value for users and a huge data windfall for tech companies. A key difference is that voice search requires live microphones in our favorite devices, and these mics may be activated when we don’t want them to be, potentially revealing clues about our preferences, behaviors and habits. – Mike Fong, Privoro
4. It Still Has Limited Conversational Abilities
On a “one-turn” question and answer, voice-activated tech can be a great experience—order this, remind me to blank, who was the first president, etc. But when it comes to conversational tech, voice is still limited. The ability to handle a “real-life” conversation with a predefined system is still challenging and sometimes frustrating. Make sure you use voice-activated devices for the right functions. – Liat Zakay, Donde Search
5. There’s Low Capability For Understanding Dialects
Not many users have adopted voice interfaces. Initial hiccups in the development of voice-activated systems include the inability to understand different dialects or offer language support, the lack of user awareness on various capabilities and the right choice of words. Addressing these issues will eliminate frustration among users and will outperform clicks, swipes and taps or any other physical interaction. – Sujeeth Kanuganti, Aira Tech Corp
6. The Tech Is Always Learning And Changing
Voice recognition bots are great because they can supplement self-service options and provide answers to basic inquiries. However, brands must be aware that new voice-enabled technologies require continuous investment and tweaking by leveraging technology such as machine learning. As the technology develops, it can better understand natural language, hold a conversation and get smarter over time. – Michael Ringman, TELUS International
7. It’s About Interfacing With The Entire Ecosystem
It is usually not about the voice technology itself, but rather its ability to interact with the rest of the ecosystem around us—enable email systems to send voice email attachments, integrate with the car system to verbally set seating preferences, etc. The key is to realize that such technologies open the connection across the different systems we are dealing with daily. The power of true connectivity! – Ayman Shoukry, Specright Inc.
8. It’s Great For Processing Repetitive Tasks
The first-generation use cases are live today and have added value on the consumer side, more specifically with processing repetitive tasks. The challenge on the enterprise side is complex, and voice is just beginning to make inroads. It is harder to get a context locked in there—for example, I could throw a query to show the sales pipeline, but the context of it being sought today is difficult to convey. – Nitin Kumar, Appnomic Systems Inc.
9. Voice-Activated Tech Is Always Listening
Voice-activated tech has microphones that are always listening and recording, looking for that word to turn it “on.” This is done by analyzing the speech in search of a pattern. It is naive to believe that these devices are secure enough that you don’t have eavesdroppers listening to your every conversation. Be aware that these devices provide convenience at the cost of privacy. – Michael Hoyt, Life Cycle Engineering, Inc.
10. It Will Positively Change Healthcare
Natural language processing (NLP) technology is much more than just speech recognition, data mining and basic coding. NLP is a powerful tool, and with the emergence of 5G, we will soon witness significant usage in clinical trial matching, risk adjustment, biomarker discovery and ambient virtual scribe, etc. Voice-activated tech, along with AI and IoT, will positively change healthcare. – Will Conaway, Executive Technology Leader