Voice-based technology is already becoming commonplace, allowing us to search for (and buy) products or interact with digital signs using nothing more than our conversational speaking voice. For those who lived through the transformation, it seemed to happen quickly; Google had a clunky version of voice search available in 2012, and today, less than a decade later, it seems perfectly capable of hearing, analyzing, and working with any linguistic query.
It seems certain that voice search will continue to develop further and influence our lives in different ways in the decades to come. But how exactly will our future evolve with voice search?
Voice Tech in More Mediums
First, we’ll start to see voice tech appear in more mediums. Right now, we’re used to voice search being a feature of modern smartphones, smart speakers, and a handful of other appliances. Some companies are also embedding voice capabilities into digital signs, enabling them to interact with employees or customers directly. In the future, we’ll see voice search and other functions appear in an even more diverse assortment of devices.
More Streamlined Conversations
The most important way that voice interactions have developed so far is with more streamlined conversations; voice-based assistants have gotten much better at recognizing specific words and semantic structures, and have gotten slightly more conversational in their interactions. In the future, this rate of change is going to accelerate. Soon, voice-based assistants will be even better than humans at recognizing speech, and they’ll become capable of interacting with users in a conversation that rivals human dialogue in sophistication.
Advanced Tone Recognition
It’s also possible that voice-based assistants will become more capable of recognizing the tone and attitude behind a person’s words, rather than just the words themselves. For example, they may be able to provide different search results or different types of guidance to people based on their current emotions or seeming intentions. This will be especially beneficial in sensitive human interactions, such as voice tech-based therapy or medicine.
Higher Compatibility and Better Integrations
It seems inevitable that voice technology will become more compatible with a wider range of devices, operating systems, and software. This will lead to better integrations, allowing users to control a wide range of different technologies with a single voice prompt, no matter where they are.
Voice will also become more customizable, in a number of different ways. For starters, a user’s experience will be highly personalized to their search history and other data points; voice assistants will be much better at recommending products and directing possible courses of action. Users may also be able to have more control over their voice experience; for example, how much interaction do they want to have? What type of voice would they like to hear from the computer?
Notifications have come to dominate the technology world. On your smartphone, almost every app attempts to send you as many notifications as possible to keep your eyes on the screen and keep you engaged. Soon, we’ll see a revolution related to voice as well; expect to get more voice-based prompts to call your attention with alerts, reminders, and other pieces of information.
Blending With Other Modes of Communication
In the far future, we could see voice-based interactions blending together with other modes of human communication. For example, when communicating with other humans, we often make use of facial expressions and hand gestures to add context and make our points. In the future, AI algorithms could take these subtle nonverbal cues into consideration when analyzing voice-based queries.
New Behaviors and Norms
Security and Privacy Concerns
Already, consumers are growing somewhat concerned that the devices designed to listen to their voices for search are listening to them when they’re not supposed to. Are your devices recording your conversations? Are they gathering data on you and your family without your knowledge or consent? As voice search comes to more devices and becomes more readily accepted, it’s only natural that these privacy and security concerns will grow. Tech companies will have to work actively to reassure consumers that they’re not actively being recorded or tracked.
No matter what, voice search is likely to continue guiding our interactions with technology for years to come. It’s already incredibly advanced compared to what it was just a decade ago, so the next decade is likely to bring even more high-tech advancements. Whether we’re prepared for those advancements is another question altogether.