The Internet of Talking Things: Why Voice Interactions Catalyze Consumer IoT Adoption
By Jessica Groopman Jessica Groopman is an independent industry analyst and IoT advisor specializing in consumer-side Internet of Things, as well as AI, and blockchain. Her research and analyst practice concentrates on the application of sensors, machine learning, automation, and consumer protections in B2C and B2B2C businesses. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, she supports clients across Retail, Smart Home, Wearable, and Tech verticals. To learn more about Jessica, visit jessgroopman.com.
Although internet-connected devices have been on the market for years now, the reality is consumer IoT has struggled to achieve mainstream adoption. While an estimated 15 billion IoT devices are forecasted to be in consumer hands by 2020, the market has been scratching its head as to what will inspire such a significant growth trajectory.
Meanwhile, another technology is emerging; the advent of reliable voice recognition is redefining how we interact with machines. Thanks to advancements in machine and deep learning, and natural language processing, chatbots and voice-enabled controls and conversational interfaces are proving more productive and less frustrating. Already, the consumer sector accounts for the largest market using voice technologies relative to other industries such as financial, healthcare, automotive. Consumer applications represents some 80% of the entire voice recognition market in 2017 according to Tractica.
We know the most powerful technological advancements occur when multiple existing technologies converge, but why IoT and voice? The answer lies in three essential ways voice removes friction in user experiences.
First, it’s easier.
From a technological adoption standpoint, this doesn’t just improve the interface—speaking over typing or tapping— it unlocks entirely new markets. Consider, for instance, how this enables elderly folks to use home care apps, disabled folks to enjoy internet services, play games, live more independently, or even offers kids story time enhancement or an easy way to engage with parents or family members remotely.
Second, it’s everywhere.
- Our selves: Smartphones and wearables pioneered voice for millions of users. In the not-so-distant future, we will see hearables—voice-controlled in-ear computers— supplement and possibly replace smartphone features like navigation, social media, and calendar notifications.
- Our home: Smart speakers, TVs, cameras, remote controllers, refrigerators, thermostats, even social robots aren’t just popping up in homes and apartments everywhere, they’re all using voice recognition to allow people to benefit from in-home technologies without constantly staring at screens or swiping through apps.
- In-transport: From cars to motorcycles, and even in public transportation, speech recognition is already being used to control music and media, make and take calls, navigate, even securely authenticate identity.
- In-store: From personalized digital signage to augmented reality to customer service robots, brands and retailers are using all manner of in-store touchpoints to improve and streamline the shopper experience without losing the ‘human touch.’
- In life: Whether at work in voice-enabled conference rooms; checking-in at the doctor’s office, voice authentication for digital banking, at a baseball game, or just about anywhere else, the ability to simply ask for anything at any time drives efficiencies for both consumers and the institutions with which we interact.
Third, it’s human.
Another long held human trait is imbuing our objects with human characteristics; we trust and identify with things when we anthropomorphize them. When devices talk to us, however robotic they may sound, they are immediately engendered with personality. Recent advances in processing speed and algorithms enable devices to respond dynamically, incorporating context from diverse data sets, customer preferences, and real-time contextual signals. This unlocks a new era of personalization wherein our devices become trusted partners, concierges, media curators, maybe even… friends?
As consumer IoT expands, brand persona must be ubiquitous yet personalized
To learn more about Jessica and her research, check out her website at: jessgroopman.com. You can also access her new research report, The User Experience of Things: Why Ubiquitous Sensing and Software Require a New Approach to Experience Design, at no cost.