By | Abhijit Bhaduri |Keynote speaker, Author and Columnist
I have tried some of the voice activated assistants. They are the ones made by the GAMA companies – Google, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon. They all have the ability to control smart appliances and tell users what the traffic conditions and the news. They can tell you bad jokes. If you are looking to improve your sense of humor, stick to the right WhatsApp groups and you will never run out of stock.
There are tie-ups behind the screens that let each one of these voice activated assistants help with simple tasks. Amazon Alexa can recognize voice based commands to order pizzas from Domino’s or book you an Uber ride. It can play your playlist from Spotify if you so wish. If you give it access to your calendar, Alexa can set up appointments and order stuff from its own website. They can do more. Much more. But yeh dil maange more – the bilingual tagline from Pepsi that translates (very literally) to: My heart wants more – much more.
Tip of the day
What if the voice activated assistant knew the challenges I face at work and help me with daily tips that are helpful? That is certainly possible. Alexa can give you a tip from Harvard Business Review. Or the Wall Street Journal, BBC, New York Times or play a TED talk and NPR if you like.
This could be such a massive opportunity for educators. Top class content is already there. What is needed now is to create the context where the content can have real time impact. It could be my coach in real time. By looking at my calendar, the assistant could know that I will be moving to a new role in a new company, it could set up an alert to find me updates about my new employer or suggest classes I could take to be better prepared for my new role. Or how to manage a team member who is struggling to meet deadlines. The possibilities are immense.
The road is bumpy
Voice activated search has its own challenges. Voice assistants have to understand grammar – both right and wrong. “What is the capital of the United States of America?” The country can be referred to as US, America or even Umreeka. Not to mention commonly understood versions such as, “Capital of America is what?”. People toh na, freely add words from other languages, right?
Bilinguals people do that often. So do people who are not that fluent in one language. They tend to do straight translations of the sentence they had in mind. If prose and poetry translations leave people dissatisfied, imagine the chaos that these voice assistants will have to deal with very soon.
We can speak to the Google app in 58 languages. Each one has its own accents. Voice searches have more than doubled in the past year alone. 25% of the searches are being done on voice already. We are training the machines. Each query improves the beast. This is just the beginning. The future will be about voice. That is loud and clear.