Voice on Voice: WFH Edition

It has been a challenging past week with COVID-19 declared a global pandemic, conferences cancelled, sports leagues suspended and many businesses shifting to a remote work policy. As we enter a new reality where many employees are hunkered down and connecting further with in-home technology throughout the day, it is interesting to consider what role voice assistants and smart speakers will play. Voicebot has published some reporting around what resources the assistants (and their tech company providers) are pointing the public toward and how they are responding to misinformation. Beyond informing the public on the outbreak status, we may begin to see greater usage of assistants on both a functional level (assisting with work tasks, calendar management, etc.) and an emotional one (combating isolation, choosing voice as a preferred medium for information over possibly dirty mobile screens) as a result of this period. Our VP of Strategic Partnerships, Eric Turkington, has shared some thoughts on where voice interfaces and assistants can provide the most value during this time. In the meantime, we have our usual roundup of voice industry technology below of which there is no shortage of continued innovations despite the crisis.

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Mood Music 

Spotify is getting serious about voice technology. Forbes has reported that “the streaming service was awarded a patent on new ways to make a voice assistant more responsive to human emotions.” The technology described would allow the assistant to infer emotion and sentiment from user utterances which would be analyzed to provide more relevant outputs from devices including intelligent recommendations or actions such as skipping a song. Amazon and Google are both active in this patent space as well despite some industry concerns over potential data management and user backlash. More on Forbes.

Amazon Music Gets Smarter 

Alexa has improved its ability to understand context and fulfill various music requests from users. The assistant can now help listeners hear different recorded versions of a song, such as switching from an album version to a live or foreign language version without needing to say the full, specific title aloud. Additionally, Alexa has introduced a more natural voice for use with Amazon Music and even incorporated some custom introductions voiced by the artists themselves. More on Android Central.

Voice Shopping Takes India 

An Alexa-powered voice shopping experience has launched in India on Android devices. The voice shopping functionality was designed mostly for English-speaking users although the experience takes into account a variety of accents and regional language considerations. According to TechCrunch, “customers will be able to use Alexa to search for items on the e-commerce platform, add them to the cart and proceed to checkout” as well as check on the status of their order via voice. More on TechCrunch.

Stats Don’t Lie

54% – people in Spain that reported using voice technology.  (data from ISDI/Webedia via Voicebot AI)

76% – organizations that have realized quantifiable benefits from their voice and chat initiatives. (data via Capgemini)

Chart of the Week

Amazon Pay Adoption of Voice for Commerce and Other Financial Activities
(data via Amazon Pay Survey)