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Is Voice Technology the Real Deal?

Voice recognition is hardly a new technology, but it’s fair to say it hasn’t yet made a huge impact on our lives. In fact, studies say roughly 85% of people never use the likes of Siri whatsoever –  proving the technology hasn’t evolved beyond its gimmicky nature – at least not on a commercial level.

But when Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook all invest in a multi-billion industry (just to name a few), you have to assume progress will be made. And the truth is, things are advancing quicker than they appear – even if we don’t see it as consumers – and it may not be long before every device in our lives comes with a voice of its own.

 

Translation software leading the way

Another industry Google and Microsoft are heavily invested in is machine translation. Both tech giants made the news this year with updates to their translation technology – most notably Microsoft, with Skype Translator promising to translate conversation in real time.

So these are exciting times for voice technology, but the end result of each new product shows how much work there is still to be done. Aside from being limited to English-Spanish conversations, Skype Translator hasn’t closed the gap between machine and human translation at all. While the days of machines being able to independently respond to human comments are still far enough away to call it science fiction.

 

What can we expect from voice technology?

Even though the technology is far from sophisticated, the days of devices needing their own voice are already here, and more tech firms will be searching for voice talent each year. Machines are more than capable of playing pre-recorded responses to trigger questions or phrases – something they have been doing for years.

In fact, the reason voice technology hasn’t taken off with consumers has nothing to do with the technology itself, but with the failure of Google and co. to implement it in a way that’s genuinely useful to people.

Once this happens, you can expect just about every device, tech company and business with an app and website to integrate voiceovers into the digital side of their brand. Siri and Google Now have already made this work with search engines to some success and the days of everything digital needing a voice could soon be here.