Voice Search is not the next big thing - society isn't ready
Previously the eCommerce Manager of Pernod Ricard, Becky Curtis-Hall is a Customer Success Manager at E Fundamentals. Her career spans marketing and sales, but always online, with a specialist interest in the interaction between humans and machines. Completing her masters degree in digital media while working in eCommerce has created a unique perspective on both the commercial side and the academic behind the scenes that fuels digital innovation. When not at work you can often find her out running or drinking wine.
Voice controlled technology is currently being hyped as the perfect solution to all of our problems from: recipes, to teaching children, to shopping. Advocates tout the natural interaction of our voices as the key to unlocking computing, removing frustration and expanding the universe of devices that are interlinked and constantly connected.
There is nothing natural about talking to a computer. A mediation exists to facilitate this communication through an interface that has been designed to helps us communicate, and the software that controls this interaction and the resulting conversation.
Although these interfaces are designed to be almost invisible, with voice technology they are evident in the most basic way: the wake-word. Created for technical purposes, to allow the device to connect to the server while at the same appearing to be always-listening, and also to enhance our feeling of domination over this strange box that has appeared in our house and begins to become the focus our of rooms, away from the more traditional visual focus of the TV.
Communication using a wake-word can never be natural. You can test this yourself, in your next conversation with your friend, use their name every time you want to talk. It doesn't flow, it feels stilted. Now imagine at the end of every single question or comment they stop listening to you, stop reacting to you conversation.
This is the reality of talking to your devices today. Every time we have to signal our intent to the device with ‘Alexa’, 'Okay Google', 'Hey Siri', it reminds us of the lie of natural interaction, the interface is laid bare before us and its inability to disappear betrays itself.
However, if your device was always listening then the wake word would not necessarily need to exist. A smart enough AI could be able to differentiate between you talking to each other and you talking to it. This would open the door for more natural interaction, but also opens up privacy concerns around Amazon having access to your other conversations.
Do you want your device to be on all the time, recording your every word?
What if I told you, your device was, in a sense already doing this?
Unlock the rest to read more about:
How does Voice Search work?
Why is everyone so excited about it?
Why Voice Search will not be the next big thing?