Over the last few years, there has been a lot of discussion of ‘voice’ technology and the effect that voice integration will have on our society. With products like the Amazon Echo and Apple HomePod now being used in homes across the world, it’s important that users have a sound understanding of this technology, since according to experts, this is only the beginning of this trend.

“The last 60 years of computing, humans were adapting to the computer. The next 60 years, the computer will adapt to us. It will be our voices that will lead the way; it will be a revolution and it will change everything.”

These words by Brian Roemmele, Founder and Editor-in-chief of Multiplex Magazine, show that the voice integration revolution is just beginning. In order to prepare you for this coming movement, we have put together a guide to voice, the devices that support it, and what it means for you. Without further ado, let’s get to it.

voice integration

What is voice integration?

The first question we need to answer is simple: what is voice integration? If you aren’t already familiar, voice integration is the act of using voice recognition software to seamlessly work with outside platforms for a streamlined process. Common examples of voice recognition include Google Voice, Amazon Alexa, Microsoft Cortana, and Apple’s Siri.

Each of these programs are trained to learn patterns in speech and then recognize commands and questions in order to find solutions. While this process has taken awhile to perfect, Google’s machine learning algorithms have reached 95% word accuracy for the English language. This is the brilliance of the technology, as the program is continuously receiving new data and learning from its own mistakes to perfect the process.

Voice-first vs. screen-first

Now, at this point you may not see how a merely adding a voice recognition software can improve business processes. However, when you understand the power of voice-first and screen-first technologies coming together, you can better understand the power of voice integration.

Currently, both voice and screen-based interactions are converging: Screen-first devices like smartphones, tablets and televisions are being enhanced with the addition of voice control systems. Voice-first devices like smart speakers are being enhanced with screens, such as the Echo Show.

The reason that this is important is that voice is an efficient input modality, meaning it allows users to give instructions easily through quick, verbal commands, while screens are efficient output modality. This means that screens can convey more information faster, making it easier for the user to take in the data and move on to the next step.

By combining these two methods together, you can integrate voice into your process with enormous benefits. Just the boost to user experience alone from providing users with the best modality for their needs can radically improve your company’s offering.

Limitations

So far, we have only spoken about the benefits of voice integration, but, like all systems, it does have its limitations. For example, the situation above that we just described, if a user is trying to receive an output from a voice-first machine, there is severely limited path of communication.

Instead of simply displaying the information with possible next steps, a voice-first system like Alexa has to use small sounds to indicate what users need to do next. This can be frustrating without the proper focus on UX design in the system. Again, this is why we recommend using voice for input, but screens for output.

Types of voice systems

As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, voice is becoming an increasingly popular choice for both businesses and consumers. In fact, according to a recent report, 32% of U.S. households now have a smart speaker, up for 28% at the beginning of the year.

In order to make the best decision for your company, you will need to understand reach of these different voice systems and the benefits the provide, depending upon your industry and need. Check out this helpful guide to each of the voice systems currently on the market for making the best choice.

Voice use cases

The final area that we will review in this beginner’s guide is the different use cases that voice integration warrants for you to get a better understanding of how you can use voice yourself, either in your home or workplace. While there are plenty of different use cases out there, these are three of the most exciting and popular uses out there so far.

Let’s first look at an obvious one: virtual assistants.

Virtual assistants

Currently, voice assistants are the most popular use of voice recognition software in integration with outside platforms. Each of the above voice systems, such as Alexa and Siri, are virtual assistants that aid users with everything from setting appointments to receiving directions to talking with your family. The popularity of these systems shows how powerful this technology is and how excited consumers are for more voice-related evolutions.

One such evolution that has already been growing in popularity is the ability to pair smart speakers with IoT devices. Now, instead of simply playing music, your speaker can control your home’s security, inside temperatures, and dozens of other systems, all with just a word from you. As each of these collaborative technologies progress, there will be even more use cases that they will present.

Voice-activated entertainment

Another area where voice integration is booming is with voice-activated entertainment such as video games and other interactive systems. In these use cases, users can speak directly to the system in order to complete tasks and progress through the game. While there are only a few games so far, the idea has been in the industry since the 90s, so you shouldn’t be surprised when you see this at next year’s E3 conference.

Speech technology apps and devices

Lastly, speech technology apps and devices are growing in popularity along with all other aspects of voice integration. As smart homes continue to become more robust, IoT platforms will integrate with voice solutions for more efficient uses. On top of that, different industries are seeing uses for these apps in the workplace as well.

While these aren’t as defined as other voice use cases, it’s clear that this is the way the market is headed, so keep your eyes peeled for new innovations coming soon.

Final thoughts

As you can see, while voice integration has come a long way, there is so much more that can still be done. In order to build the best possible future, it will be up to people interested in this solution to lay the proper ground work. Our advice is to get involved now, not only so you can use this technology, but be a part of making it even more powerful.