I often hear people say that talking to your devices is unnatural. “No way people will start talking to their machines, especially at work”. It’s interesting, and mostly shows how bad we are at imaging change. One thing is that new technology quickly gets adopted. When I got my first mobile phone in 1995, it was embarrassing to talk in public – so you would hide behind a column or go a bit away from people. Then, people got used to it.
Today, we talk in our phones as the most natural thing in the world. We use them as our “life remote controls”.
As technology is developing, and market places are changing, more and more can be done on your mobile. While we talk to other people on our phones, we still use the screen and keyboards to do most of the work. This might seem natural to us now, but it’s not. It’s a learned skill, and it’s not very efficient – screens and keyboards are very limiting interfaces.
Voice control is a natural skill. A system that can understand natural language can be used by everyone, no matter their age and skill level. A two-year old and a 92-year old will have the same capabilities. It removes barriers like poor reading and writing skills. Voice controlled systems is the most natural technology we have to date.
The key to voice controlled systems becoming popular is to understand natural language, and being able to respond on it. This is where the intelligent agents / artificial intelligence platforms enters. Siri, Echo, and Google Now are first generation agents. It’s not mind blowing to ask Siri to remind you to bring your recycling with you when you leave, or help you convert from lb. to kg, or open an app for you – but it sure is helpful.
This will change with the next generation of intelligent agents – like TENEO and VIV. VIV, although not launched yet, will be able to understand and react to natural language. More important, VIV is a self-learning, self-coding system – enabling it to act on information without it being pre-programmed.
Artificial intelligence will be the way we relate to information in the future. You won’t open different apps, or type in your requests. You’ll speak it, to your digital assistant. Your digital assistant will know everything about you, and always deliver on what you want. Intelligent agents will be for information what Google search is for websites, it will take over for keyboards, and with the growth of AR wearables the screen is going away too. It’s hard to imagine a future where we’re not locked to our screens and keyboards, but it’s coming.