With growing improvements in natural language processing and speech accuracy rates, more and more business owners look towards using voice recognition technology in their products and services. The projected growth of the smart speaker market is impressive – by 2025 it may be worth over 35 billion dollars. Voice technology is not just a trend, but a new shift in paradigm which will have significant impact on the efficiency and profitability of enterprises.
In this article, I am going to describe a range of examples of using voice recognition in different domains, along with the benefits it brings: from simplifying outdated processes to a substantial reduction of business costs.
1. Voice Control In-Car Systems and Journey Planners
The fact that drivers must keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road leaves voice as the natural user interface for performing different tasks in the car such as playing music or activating navigation. No wonder that voice recognition technology has been making huge strides in the automotive area: From embedding well-known Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri assistants into in-vehicle infotainment systems to creating voice-enabled brand-specific solutions. According to Navigant Research, the market is only going to grow, and voice assistants are projected to be embedded in nearly 90% of new vehicles sold globally by 2028.
When it comes to public transport, AI-powered voice interfaces will soon be widely used for journey planning, answering questions like “How do I get to the city center?” or “When is the next bus to work?”. By utilizing the existing transport network information stored on the cloud, smartly developed voice assistants can provide replies to such inquiries in a few milliseconds.
Taking it one step further and integrating voice payments, transportation companies have a chance to create a truly frictionless user experience for their customers. For example, British rail operator Virgin Trains became the first company in the transportation industry to collaborate with Amazon Alexa, allowing its clients to find and purchase tickets using voice commands.
2. Voice-Based Banking and Payments
Speech recognition opens up lots of opportunities for financial services, and when used smartly, can have a great impact on banks, insurance companies and fintechs. Voice-based banking advances customer service as human capabilities augmented by AI offer unmatched speed, efficiency and accuracy. Moreover, such solutions boost customer satisfaction and retention: AI-based voice recognition accelerates the confirmation of customer identity allowing them to move straight to resolving their issues.
Voice-activated features can also be used for providing customers with their account details, making payments or exchanging currency. For example, Garanti Bank - a Turkish subsidiary of the global BBVA bank - has launched a voice-based assistant called the Mobile Interactive Assistant (MIA), which allows the bank’s customers to make transactions by simply stating “I need to transfer money to…”, and providing the name of the recipient. Garanti reports that approximately 60% of customers who have their app are using MIA, and satisfaction rates are very high.
When it comes to voice payments, the feature is beneficial not just for financial organizations, but for multiple other businesses. At intive, we have recently developed an Amazon Alexa skill, which allows to make donations to the British Heart Foundation. Users just need to tell Alexa how much they want to donate - anything from £1 - £2500 - and the payment is processed using their Amazon Pay account.
3. Shopping with Voice Assistants
Voice-enabled payments translate to voice e-commerce. A report by OC&C Strategy Consultants predicts that voice shopping spending will grow to over $40 billion in 2022 alone, compared to $2 billion in spending today.
By allowing consumers to place, cancel, and track orders via voice, brands can offer them a seamless shopping experience. For example, when it comes to shopping for groceries, most customers tend to make repeat purchases. Leveraging this fact, Walmart has introduced voice ordering for its online grocery service through Google Assistant. The smart assistant remembers the customer’s preferred products and compiles personalized item recommendations based on their Walmart shopping history.
Walmart's biggest competitor, Amazon, also offers voice shopping via its Echo devices – and not just for groceries, but any goods available through Amazon Prime and sold by Amazon directly. It is important to note that while food items do not usually need to be examined very closely, the same does not apply to clothes or furniture. It remains one of the biggest challenges for shopping-related voice queries today, which most likely will be solved through the integration of assistants with TV or other viewing devices. As James Moar, the Lead Analyst at Juniper Research has rightly noted, “majority of voice commerce are expected to be digital purchases, until digital assistants offer truly seamless cross-platform experiences. Connected TVs and smart displays are vital here, as they can provide a visual context that is lacking in smart speakers.”
4. Home Appliances Integrated with Smart Speakers
From the very beginning, voice control has played an important part in the development of Internet of Things. The number of smart homes is forecasted to grow and surpass the 300 million mark by 2023 and it is fair to predict that voice control will be a mainstay functionality in many smart home devices. Voice options certainly make IoT more intuitive for the homeowners and are especially appreciated by older or physically disabled users.
The kitchen is one of the most popular locations to place a smart speaker in a home where it becomes an integral part of the smart kitchen experience. Manufacturers should leverage this fact – just like the Whirlpool Corporation has done by implementing Alexa and the Google Assistant into its smart appliances. Now, owners of Whirlpool products can control them directly through smart speakers by making simple requests like “Alexa, tell Whirlpool to preheat the oven” or “Ok Google, ask Whirlpool to turn off the microwave”.
5. Touch-Free Solutions in Healthcare
One more area where voice tech can become a gamechanger is healthcare. Voice assistants can help resolve lots of challenges of the current healthcare ecosystem and improve both the doctor’s and patient’s experience. They are also proving to be more and more essential in times as challenging as a global pandemic.
Thanks to the time-saving benefits and hands-free capabilities of voice assistants, doctors can use such devices even during sterile procedures and without taking their gloves off.
For patients, voice tools are equally important. They can be used for voice interactions with “virtual doctors” at triage, for disease management or for contacting doctors and nurses in hospitals. Not to mention the unique opportunities that voice-enabled tech brings to disabled users, allowing people with limited mobility or vision impairment to accomplish their daily goals and overcome everyday challenges.
Amazon has launched a dedicated “Health & Wellness” division to address the needs of patients with diabetes and mothers of newborn children. The focus on healthcare and better patient support at home seems to be one of the most interesting business cases for voice technology.
The examples shared above merely scratch the surface of the immense potential of voice recognition, a technology which is likely to reshape almost every aspect of our lives. An early adoption of this technology can give businesses a competitive edge: from improving customer experience through the automation of routine processes to significantly higher productivity.
If you would like to test the waters and bring voice-related ideas to life in your company – check intive’s AI and machine learning offering and do not hesitate to reach out to our experts.