The last 5 years have seen a huge flux in terms of AI based devices. Today, more and more people are becoming aware of AI technology and its applications. AI has already entered the homes, becoming a part of everyday life. It is the age of voice command driven assistants like Siri, Alexa, Cortana and Bixby. These are AI systems designed to interact with humans, make our lives smooth and hassle free.
“Alexa, riddle me this!”
The research phase and technology of the voice driven devices took almost two decades. In the past five years, however, giant opportunities have opened up. Everyday we are teaching machines get better in their function. Voice assistants learn and adapt based on the data they gather with numerous interactions with different sets of humans. Their responses can evolve and be built on what we say to them. For instance, navigation apps guide us based on the routes we take. Without tons of data gathered by interactions with humans, the machines would be much dumber.
Let’s cut right to the heart of why talking machines could be useful. This next-generation interaction technology offers us a way out from using devices with complex interfaces. These devices also overcome the barriers of users of using tech products. This way, the technology allows the user to interact with the machines in a natural way, just like how one would interact with another human. We teach our machines every day. Voice assistants learn how to talk to us based on what we say to them. Navigation apps guide us based on the routes we take. Without millions of teachers like you, our machines would be much dumber.
IBM estimates that 90% of the data created by humans has been generated in the past two years alone.
A Rise in the Opportunities, in India –
Over 90% of the current digital voice assistants in India only work with English creating usage problems vernacular language users.
The Biggest Challenge:
On this day one of the biggest challenges voice technology is facing is – Human Language. One of the world’s biggest and complex data sets. The reason why understanding language is so difficult for machines is that, the meaning of words changes based on context and even the appearance of the letters and words. Sometimes, the spelling remains the same but, means and refers to different actions when changed its context. Languages rely on a lot of knowledge about how it works and on common-sense about the world. Those two factors blend in subtle ways.
Role of UX
You must be is familiar with Jakob Nielsen’s general principles for interaction design, called “heuristics”. Broad thumb rules for evaluating the efficiency of a product. Let’s apply these principles to voice driven technologies like – Alexa used in a B2C scenario to understand how much UX can add value to accelerate the success of the voice revolution.
1. Help Users Make Sense of the Technology
As the complexity of real world interaction is difficult to predict, the error messages should be easily understandable and should provide a constructive solution.
A grandmother attempting to interact with Google
2. Users should get Complete Control
Users often stumble upon different functions that they don’t intend to use. This is a scenario where they should be given a clear exit action/ message. It is important to avoid overwhelming the users with the information and too many choices.
3. Flexibility and Efficiency of Use
The device should use accelerators for the frequent users in the messages. At the same time, new users should not feel out of place. Use confirmation messages selectively. Use of reprompting to guide the users.
An illustrated example of how Alexa can understand commands in different manners.
“Alexa, show me the future!”
Voice AI is still in the nascent stage and a lot of research is still underway to make sense of this technology. Envisioning the market share this technology is about to capture, more and more companies should make it their aim to enter the segment and make use of the first-mover advantage. To stay ahead, business owners, strategists and marketers should experiment with the technology for their brand to transition seamlessly when the voice revolution takes over completely.