The Voice of the Future

The Voice of the Future

I went to the Amazon Voice Meet-Up in Glasgow last week, sponsored by Scottish Power and Waracle. The talk was presented by Amazon Alexa Technical Evangelist, Andrea Muttoni.

It was a fascinating evening. In a past blog, I talked about voice recognition and how it is going to grow, but it’s going to happen even sooner than we think.

One of the interesting questions that came out of the evening was who was going to win the race between Amazon and Google. Both have recently launched new products – the Amazon Echo Spot is a brand new product – this time with a built-in screen.

Andrea began his presentation by showing the ages of man from evolution to the computer but added another couple of illustrations as man stands up straight again because they don’t need to use a computer.

Will that be the future? Will we in five years send emails by reading our text out loud and asking Alexa to do it for us? Or can we only do that through a Google product as Google won’t let Amazon link to Gmail?

Already we can ask Skyscanner for flight prices and details through Alexa. What else will replace manual input – what functions on our phone will we no longer need?

One of the most interesting things that Andrea showed was the ‘skills’ that are being developed by individuals across the globe. These ‘skills’ are additions to functionality that Amazon are asking anyone to develop. What a great idea – programmers all over the world giving Amazon a shortcut to interesting content and potential app developments!

One of the questions Andrea wouldn’t answer was where Amazon were themselves headed with their roadmap. Will we one day see voice as the new fingerprint?

It was all really interesting stuff and gets you thinking about how this technology will evolve.

And a big question for me is how will society adapt? What roles will become redundant if we can do everything by asking Alexa to do it for us? Will we see massive warehouses replacing city centre shops?

Also, how will it impact on health? If we can do everything in our house without moving – which we can pretty well do just now if we have smart devices, then is the future built for lazy people and will the ages of man illustration see another illustration, this time prone across a sofa not needing to move to do anything?

With the recent news that Apple investors are asking Apple to put a limit on the amount that children and teenagers can spend on their phone as too much dependence leads to mental issues and depression, then will voice recognition make everything easier for us, to the point where we want everything there and then, the inevitable upshot being some people may become even lazier?

– Alan Cunningham, MD Totalize Media