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The future of virtual assistance technology



Dawn of a new age


We’ve been talking to our computers for a while now (OK, mostly yelling), but it’s only pretty recently they’ve begun to talk back. For many of us, our relationship with talking computers began with Siri way back in 2011. You’d ask her to do things, and sometimes, if you were lucky, she’d get it right. As voice recognition software improves things have developed rapidly––more and more companies have rolled out their own virtual assistants, household devices have been integrated, and our voice is tipped to take over typing as the primary way we interact with the technology around us.

 

Cool stuff virtual assistants can do for you


Virtual assistants are great for helping you find information online, make plans, and create shopping lists, and set up alarms and reminders. Siri, Google Assistant, and Microsoft’s Cortana all perform these functions pretty well, with varying strengths and weaknesses. As a result of improvements in listening software, they all understand human language a lot better than you might remember if you gave up on voice in the past.

 

The biggest advancements, however, have come with the emergence of home-based virtual assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home. These products both combine a smart microphone and speaker that responds to your voice commands, creating your own personal home assistant. And they are not just there to take down lists or tell you the weather––they also allow you to control devices in your home such as heating and cooling, lighting, your television, as well as alarm systems and roller doors. Amazingly, they both cost less than US$200.

 

The Echo, powered by an AI brain named Alexa, has been around longer and is widely considered to have the edge over the slightly cheaper Home. Both can stream music straight from Spotify, and both offer similar features in terms of planning and organising, but only the Echo can order you an Uber or a pizza from Domino’s. If you’re into your music and TV shows, the Home’s ability to interact with smart devices through Chromecast might just give it the edge.

 

As voice recognition software becomes even more reliable, expect to see it used in workplaces where being hands-free is a huge advantage. Think warehouses, factories, laboratories, and hospitals, where efficiency can be gained by saving time through verbal communication with workers’ surroundings. It may seem strange now, but voice is likely to become the primary means of communication with our homes and vehicles as picking up a remote becomes a thing of the past.

 

Changing the way the internet listens


Because we are using more and more voice commands to look for information online, search engines such as Google have had to change the way they prioritise search results. In the past it was enough for SEO professionals to include simple keywords in their copy to ensure a higher ranking in search results, but that is no longer the case. We don’t speak the same way we type. To a search engine, a two-word request like ‘Chicago weather’ is very different proposition to a sentence like ‘What is the weather going to be like in Chicago tomorrow’. With voice searches expected to number 200 billion a year by 2020, good SEO writing needs to take these changes into account by incorporating more long-tail phrases and sentences. The internet is changing, and we must change with it.

Provided by Digital360



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