Voice technology has become a part of daily life for consumers. Forty percent of adults now use voice search once per day, and according to Google, 72 percent of people who own a voice-activated speaker — like the Amazon Echo or Google Home — say their devices are used often in their daily routines.
Voice-activated speaker owners told Google that talking to their devices helps them get things done quickly and efficiently. Here are the top reasons people are turning to these devices:
- It allows them to easily multitask.
- It enables them to do things faster than with other devices.
- It empowers them to get answers and information instantly.
- It makes daily routines easier.
As voice technology and its associated devices, apps and other solutions increase in popularity, so, too, will the impact voice tech has on business.
Voice Tech Is Becoming Standard
By 2020, 50 percent of all searches will be voice searches, and there will be 21.4 million smart speakers in the United States. The global speech and voice recognition market, valued at about $6 billion in 2017, is likely to reach $18 billion by 2023.
Voice tech is present in several products. Consumers can control products and services with their voices to shop, stream music, change lighting and thermostats, lock doors, interact with vehicles and use alarm systems, televisions, appliances and more.
Users are implementing voice tech for purchasing products. Nearly 50 percent of people use voice search when researching products. Google found that owners of voice-activated speakers are open to receiving information and offers from brands.
- 52 percent would like to receive information about deals, sales and promotions
- 48 percent would like to receive personalized tips and information to make life easier
- 42 percent would like to receive information about upcoming events or activities
- 39 percent would like to receive options to find business information (such as store locations and hours)
- 38 percent would like to receive access to customer service or support
Voice-activated technology is “a new playground for brands,” according to Google.
Voice Technology and Government Regulations
Privacy and data concerns surround voice technology. Personalization helps voice tech systems be as useful as possible, according to The Economist, and devices have access to calendars, emails and other sensitive information. One complication is that these devices are always listening, just waiting to be activated.
“Police investigating a murder in Arkansas, which may have been overheard by an Amazon Echo, have asked the company for access to any audio that might have been captured,” according to The Economist. “Amazon has refused to cooperate, arguing (with the backing of privacy advocates) that the legal status of such requests is unclear. The situation is analogous to Apple’s refusal in 2016 to help FBI investigators unlock a terrorist’s iPhone; both cases highlight the need for rules that specify when and what intrusions into personal privacy are justified in the interests of security.”
In addition to these types of challenges for businesses, there is also opportunity. Regulations in the auto industry have helped advance hands-free driving, leading to voice-activated systems in vehicles. Forbes reported how voice tech in vehicles could soon lead to systems becoming personal assistants, travel companions and even a sympathetic ear to drivers.
Branding, Voice Tech and Emotional Connections
Google has found that people are saying “please,” “thank you” and “sorry” to their voice-activated speakers, and 41 percent of owners say it feels like they’re talking to a friend or another person. “People perceive the devices as more than just an electronic toy, they’re more akin to another person or a friend.”
This is reflected in other findings. “In our research, when people voiced a question involving a brand name, their brain activity showed a significantly stronger emotional response compared to people typing that same question,” Ida Siow, head of planning, Singapore and SEA at J. Walter Thompson Worldwide, told Forbes. “There is no doubt that voice builds emotional affinity, and a resounding 72 percent of users [in Singapore] wanted brands to have unique voices and personalities for their apps. The implication for brands is huge — it’s no longer just about right time, right message, right place — brands need to ensure they are developing the right voice, too.”
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