Monday, November 21, 2016

Value of Voice Control Coming Through Loud and Clear

Voice control has come of age, with greatly improved voice recognition, natural language and machine learning. The amazing ability to understand any voice with any accent is a huge achievement. Pairing that with the ability to respond in a conversational manner means voice control will become the de facto user control interface for many devices.

Millennials are probably the biggest users of voice control: more than 50% use Siri, Google and other systems to get answers for anything from restaurant recommendations to the distance to the moon. In the home there is increased reliance on “intelligent personal assistants” such as Alexa and Google Home.  Comcast is heavily promoting its Xfinity TV voice control system, and considering moving away from traditional remote controls altogether.

When machine learning is involved, the ease of voice control and the power of big data can transform lives.  Combining video or audio search data, all other searches on the Web and conversations with a personal assistant can inform the music you play or the content you watch, recommending a wider breadth of content choices that are tailored to consumers’ lifestyles.

But the real pleasure is the simplicity of acting hands-free. The ability to easily ask for something and quickly get the results may be ending the days of mind-numbing up-down flipping through a guide. You don’t even need to go to the Internet.

Here’s a scenario that might take place in the my house when the “Sports” command is given and a filtered list appears:  A more specific request – “Broncos” – might offer choices of multiple teams, but based on location and viewing history, we’d get information on the Denver Broncos and their upcoming games.

Pay-TV operators have had voice control on their lists for some time, but the technology has needed fine tuning to avoid adding to consumer frustration. The advancements in technology mean that now, for good reason, they are all clamoring to put voice control into their ecosystems, providing a much easier and much more intelligent user experience for their subscribers.