With the new year already underway, many of us are in search of the latest technologies to determine how they will impact our lives. Below is a list of popular technology trends for 2017 that intersect with speech technologies.
The Internet of Things (IoT) continues to grow. One of the IoT’s most popular areas is smart homes. As a result of the interconnectedness that the IoT provides, more and more devices and systems within the home are connected. According to BI Intelligence, the number of smart home devices shipped will grow from 83 million in 2015 to 193 million in 2020. Speech technologies provide a natural way to interact with smart home devices; the combination of speech recognition and natural language processing enables devices to understand users’ actual speech, and the text-to-speech functionality enables devices to speak. Given the increasing prevalence of smart homes, speech technologies will soon be an indispensable part of our daily lives.
According to Gartner, conversational systems are among 2017’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends. These systems have already been used in customer services applications; contact centers were among the earliest adopters. By implementing natural language understanding and speech recognition technologies, contact centers replaced interactive voice response (IVR) menus with simple verbal requests by customers, such as “I want to upgrade my account” or “I want to know my credit card balance” before routing callers to the correct destination in fewer steps and less time. We are using more and more conversational systems not only in business applications but also our in daily lives. From home devices to intelligent applications, conversational systems have a wide range of uses. As a result of the increasing popularity of the IoT, conversational systems will continue to be an indispensable part of our lives.
Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence
Machine learning and artificial intelligence continue their evolution by including new technologies like deep learning, neural networks, and natural-language processing. According to the latest Artificial Intelligence Report, the overall artificial intelligence market is expected to be worth US$16.06 Billion by 2022, an increase of 62.9% over 2016. Consequently, we will be seeing ever more advanced systems that understand, learn, predict, and adapt in ways that transform many familiar applications into intelligent devices. From search engine algorithms to IVR systems and virtual assistants to chatbots, artificial intelligence already enjoys extensive usage.
Virtual Assistants and Chatbots
As the reach of artificial intelligence increases, virtual assistants and chatbots are expected to grow exponentially. In addition to key players like Amazon, Google, and Apple, there will be many newcomers to the market. While virtual assistants are more likely to be positioned as general purpose aids, chatbots are ideally suited for use as enterprise-wide, multi-channel conversational agents. As these technologies become smarter and more personalized, they will proliferate across consumer and enterprise sectors. Since speech is the main interface to interact with such technologies, the use of speech technologies will increase in parallel with the dramatic growth in virtual assistants and chatbots.
The proliferation of the IoT has increased the need for connected device security. Every connection to the Internet carries some risk of being hacked, and IoT devices are especially vulnerable because they are always connected to the Internet. Voice biometrics offer an effective solution to provide enhanced security for connected devices. First, any individual’s voice is unique that person, just like a fingerprint or an iris. Unlike PINs, passwords, and challenge questions, voice biometrics cannot be compromised without the knowledge of the legitimate user, providing far greater security. Furthermore, voice biometrics provide a natural and effortless method of authentication. Voice commands make more sense than touch interfaces in many situations; users are already accustomed to interacting with devices via voice. That is why it is easy to imagine that voice biometrics will become the most widespread IoT security measure.
Technology trends are always changing; every year, we explore new technologies that profoundly influence our lives. It appears that 2017 will witness breakthrough developments in which speech technologies will have an active role. Speech technologies will contribute to a better use of the latest technologies by increasing efficiency, enhancing user experience, and improving security.