From Music Management to Country Infrastructure

This week’s news roundup shows how voice technology is accelerating its usage well beyond the speaker and servicing far more than simple commands like weather and music. In media, we see Spotify building on their voice testing to allow more control integrated into their platform. In healthcare, significant funding is going toward voice as a provider solution. And over in Europe, an entire country is outlining how a voice assistant interface can enable better public service. More on all these below.

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Hey Spotify?

Last week, rumors of “Hey Spotify” triggered voice control on the streaming platform began to circulate after a user discovered a buried settings panel in the application. Previously, Spotify was testing voice assistance as an in-car feature back in May 2019, but this application appears to be broader in scope. Although the feature has yet to launch or be formally announced, Android Police and others expect it will allow for playback navigation and perhaps more advanced controls such as adding and managing playlists. More on Android Police.

Suki’s Series B

Another voice assistant, another round of funding. In fact, just over a month ago we were reading about Verbit raising their $31MM series B round for their intelligent transcription service. This time, it’s healthcare-oriented digital assistant Suki. According to Mobile Health news: “In practice, doctors can speak into their notes and the [Suki] system will listen, document and integrate with the EHR. Doctors can then sign off on the notes.” As the application of voice in healthcare continues to grow, it’s no surprise to see assistant technology being dispatched to reduce inefficiencies in the documentation and administrative areas. More on Mobile Health News.

Public Service Voice Assistant

Estonia’s Chief Information, Data and Technology officer has outlined plans to develop a country-wide public service voice assistant, #KrattAI. The aspiration is for the AI agent to be able to facilitate any task citizens currently do by phone and handle a wide range of requests, from information retrieval to interfacing with government agencies. According to Voicebot AI, this is part of the country’s e-Estonia model which “integrates digital tools into voting, education, banking, and other aspects of government services. The country is more than halfway to its goal of applying AI to 50 use cases by 2021 and plans to invest a minimum of €10 million by 2022 in AI.” Although questions remain around data management and interoperability of the assistant across systems, the country believes voice is the right interface to build for the future. More on Voicebot.

Stats Don’t Lie

70% – College students surveyed in Boston using a voice assistant at least once per month. (data via University Business)

56% – Smart speaker owners who are somewhat or very likely to use voice services to purchase products in the next 3 years. (data via Amazon)

Chart of the Week

Voice Banking Survey
(eMarketer)