Whether putting milk on the grocery list or finding the best tacos, people can easily chat with devices. Just ask Alexa or Siri.

This shift in consumer behavior has disrupted the way we do business. Brands now want to invite voice-based conversations with users through web and mobile apps. Studies and reports indicate an exponential adoption rate, with statistics like:

Voice interfaces, search, and technology are changing the user experience and changing the world around us.

Voice interaction & technology

Voice interaction is a major focus in process development and convenience is all about. A user can bypass the need to write, read, or think – all of the screen and keyboard style interface requirements. Instead, a person achieved their goals through conversation.

The language technology combines powerful platforms into a simplified programmatic interface. Some common language-based programs include:

  • Natural language processing (NLP)
  • Automatic speech recognition (ASR)
  • Natural Language Understanding (NLU)
  • Text to Speech (TTS)

UX designers work to develop solutions that will change the way people interact with machines, systems and services.

While the concept of “conversation” seems quite simple, the underlying building blocks of technology are quite complex. Going beyond the screen and keyboard style interface, you can achieve a higher level of accessibility and inclusivity.

How does a voice user interface work?

The general definition of a user interface is the point of human-computer interaction and communication on a website, device or app. A typical user interface can include a screen, keyboard, mouse, and desktop. It enables a person to effectively control the device they are interacting with.

A successful user interface is clear, concise, and familiar. The system must be responsive and match with attractive features that are easy to navigate. Ultimately, a user interface must be efficient and forgiving. This whole process is refined as you add voice technology.

A voice user interface (VUI) enables spoken human interaction with computers. It uses speech recognition to understand spoken commands and text-to-speech to play a response. These are the main ways to interact with virtual assistants on smartphones and speakers.

Voice command device

VUIs are used to control a voice command device (VCD), which includes everything from a washing machine to automated attendants and automobiles.

Older voice response systems respond to keyboard key presses using DTMF tones. Newer VCDs with a full voice user interface allow callers to speak requests and responses without having to press buttons.

Newer voice command devices do not require speakers, so they can respond to a wide variety of voices regardless of tone, accent, or dialect. These systems are also able to address multiple voice commands at the same time, separate voice messages and provide the appropriate feedback. In this way, VCDs mimic a natural conversation more closely.

How can voice search be used?

As most people know, speech technology has a wide variety of uses. Voice search users will find different uses for science based on age and information needs.

A recent study found that 62% of people use voice search to search for fact-based information such as definitions of terms, 46% for weather conditions, and 32% for news. It was also found that nearly 30% of voice search users aged 18-34 years use it to send commands to their device (i.e. set timers, add to list). This is compared to 19% for the 35-54 year olds and 16% for the over 55 year olds.

Some common uses for voice search technology include:

Form and data entry

This is a task that is particularly challenging on mobile devices. Adding a conversation that focuses on data collection for a simple form can simplify the user experience. It also minimizes input times and errors.

Contextual language support

All types of businesses can add conversation to their mobile apps, from retailers to grocery stores, malls and locations. Users can ask questions like “Which course has soup?” or “Do you sell paint?”

The combination of a conversation with the geographical location and the supplier’s own data enables easier access to context-sensitive information.

Voice-enabled workflows

Brands can use voice commands to improve efficiency and productivity. These interactions help streamline processes and accelerate results.

Developments in language technology

As language technology evolves, there are many interesting developments. Now that software teams can add unified, cross-platform voice-based exchanges for customers and users, expect new tools such as:

AI-powered voice bots

Voice bots powered by artificial intelligence go one step further than a simple chatbot and can hold conversations like never before. A sophisticated AI foundation ensures that the interaction is quick and relaxed like a natural conversation. This in turn leads to a faster result and, being intuitive, there is no significant learning curve for users.

Speech analysis

The new language technology uses analytics to monitor emotions. This means that the program works to determine if a user is happy, sad, confused, disappointed, etc. Speech analytics can also track keywords to better inform and control the interaction.

Speech analysis also evaluates the quality and style of user responses and adapts the delivery of a speech bot to an exact situation. In a way, chatbots will seem more empathetic. These are tasks that are simply impossible for the screen and keyboard interfaces.

Voice biometric technology

Voice biometric technology enables a safer online experience. Data protection, security and identity protection on the Internet are important concerns of a user. Your voice is unique. Acoustic characteristics and behavioral characteristics can be monitored and used for authentication and access services.

Sum it up

Speech technology is exciting. It has made leaps and bounds in the past few decades that have turned science fiction into modern life. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and smart devices are part of the fundamental IoT. They work together with voice-based software to create a higher level of comfort, save company costs, increase sales and strengthen business and customer relationships.