Have you asked your phone to tell you the weather today or ordered more toilet paper by simply speaking to a device in your home? It’s a common enough thing, and everyone has their preferred devices and calls them by name – Siri, Alexa, Google.
As popular as these voice assistants are, however, they represent just a small selection of the speech-centered technologies grabbing headlines right now, and they’re changing how we work and live.
Voice In The Office
While most people think about voice technology in the context of their home lives or their private devices, there are also many voice-activated tools that can be used in office settings. For example, Amazon’s new Echo 8 offers voice control throughout your office environment, turning on lights and managing the thermostat, allowing for spoken management of to-do lists and easy entry into video meetings.
Workers can expect smart speakers and similar devices to pop up around their offices in the near future as management seeks to facilitate a touchless environment.
Speech Recognition Ramps Up
One of the most complicated technologies to come to market in recent years is speech recognition technology, particularly those programs which can independently identify multiple languages independently. Even those programs that need to have a language tag in place before use, however, have come a long way, and there are now programs that can handle complex speech recognition tasks targeted to particular industries’ needs.
One of the most important technologies to come out of this emphasis on speech and voice tools are programs like Dragon Medical One, a speech recognition program used by healthcare professionals. Rather than taking notes on clinical encounters by hand, this program recognizes terms specific to healthcare, enabling providers to take more complete notes more quickly – and equivalent programs exist for other industries.
Text To Speech – Recognition In Reverse
While many of us like to speak to our devices in order to accomplish tasks more efficiently, there’s also a place for speech technology that works in reverse by converting text to speech. Such programs are actually critical accessibility tools for individuals with low vision, allowing them to better access digital texts and have been used in that context for years. However, these programs have become increasingly popular with average web users who are trying to increase their productivity by having digital content read aloud to them while they work on other tasks.
Finally, you can’t talk about speech-centric technology today without highlighting the importance of voice search and the changes necessary to SEO practices to adapt to this new tool. Voice search relies on natural language processing and what makes it so groundbreaking is its ease of use. Intertwined with tools like Siri and Alexa, which can tap into search engines to respond to queries, voice-linked SEO requires sites to rethink how they create content to ensure it will show up on voice searches. After all, we speak differently than we type, which means content needs to be redeveloped for this new search modality.
Speech-based tools are disproportionately convenient for users relative to other tools, which has created a booming industry, but they’re also harder to develop. Whatever your relationship to technology, then, it’s worth watching this sector. You’ll be talking to your tech more than typing before you know it.