Home Tech Why voice tech isn’t truly useful yet – TechCrunch

Why voice tech isn’t truly useful yet – TechCrunch


Ken Sutton is CEO and co-founder of Yobe, a software company that uses edge-based AI to unlock the potential of voice technologies for modern brands. On average, men and women speak roughly 15,000 words per day. We call our friends and family, log into Zoom for meetings with our colleagues, discuss our days with our loved ones, or, if you’re like me, you argue with the ref about a bad call they made in the playoffs.

According to Meticulous Research, the global voice and speech recognition market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 17.2% from 2019 to reach $26.8 billion by 2025. Companies like Amazon and Apple will accelerate this growth by leveraging ambient computing capabilities, which will continue to push voice interfaces forward as a primary interface. Hospitality, travel, IoT, and the auto industry are all on the cusp of leveling-up voice assistant adoption and monetizing voice.

As voice technologies become ubiquitous, companies focus on the value of latent data in these new channels. Microsoft’s recent acquisition of Nuance is not just about achieving better NLP or voice assistant technology; it’s also about the trove of healthcare data that conversational AI has collected.

Our voice technologies have not been engineered to confront the messiness of the natural world or the cacophony of our lives. Google has monetized every mouse click, and the same happens with voice. Advertisers have found that speak-through conversion rates are higher than click-through conversation rates. Brands must begin developing voice strategies to reach customers — or risk being left behind.


Voice tech adoption was already on the rise, but with most of the world under lockdown protocol during the COVID-19 pandemic, adoption is set to skyrocket. According to Insider Intelligence, nearly 40% of internet users in the U.S. will use smart speakers at least monthly in 2020. Yet, several fundamental technology barriers are keeping us from reaching the full potential of the technology.

The steep climb to commercializing voice

By the end of 2020, worldwide shipments of wearable devices rose 27.2% to 153.5 million from a year earlier. Still, despite all the progress made in voice technologies and their integration into many end-user devices, they are primarily limited to simple tasks. That is finally starting to change as consumers demand more from these interactions, and voice becomes a more virtual interface.

In 2018, in-car shoppers spent $230 billion to order food, coffee, groceries, or items to pick up at a store. The auto industry is one of the earliest adopters of voice AI. Still, it must become a more seamless, truly hands-free experience to capture voice technology’s true potential. Ambient car noise still muddies the signal enough to keep users tethered to phone use.


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