- Work for us
- Job Search
How often do you use speech recognition? In the US 41% of adults and 55% of adolescences use voice activated searches every day, with approximately 500 million search queries in China per day. Influences such as restrictive keyboards, literacy and limited rural access (particularly in China) are all key factors to these staggering figures. Machine learning has paved the way and is improving everything from image to speech recognition.
Apple launched Siri in 2011 which sparked the initial mainstream discussion in the Intelligent Virtual Agent (IVA) market. Since then we have seen the likes of Google (Now), Amazon (Echo) and Microsoft (Cortana) all looking to exploit the market.
Amazon Echo, aka Alexa, is a physical product that responds to a user’s voice and can act on requests and answer questions. Over time it is expected that the software will be adapted to user’s speech patterns and preferences. In contrast Microsoft launched Cortana, named from a character from popular video game Halo, last year. The software is currently exclusive to Windows Phones, although Microsoft are reportedly planning to launch the service as an app for iOS and Android devices. Interestingly, Microsoft have pitched Cortana as a personal digital assistant who can help make your life easier. Known as Project Einstein, Microsoft are positioning Cortana as an artificial intelligence, offering context sensitive information.
For more information on the Amazon Echo please click here.
In January Google piloted Google Now cards, for users with Android Wear devices. The pilot permitted 40 companies to create cards that allowed them to for example, add music recommendations and set reminders to Google Now. When placed on Android Wear devices, these cards become miniature smartwatch apps. Google Now opened their Application Program Interface (API) to all developers, allowing organisations to scour through with voice search. Some argue that this could make Google Now a more powerful voice search assistant than Siri or Cortana.
By comparison, Apple hasn't provided developers with an official open API for Siri. Microsoft opened up Cortana's API to other companies last year, but interest could remain low until it launches on other mainstream platforms including iOS, Android, and Windows 10.
This being said, Facebook recently acquired speech recognition start up Wit.ai who claim to provide “natural language for the internet of things”. Whilst there has been no confirmation, it is expected that speech recognition will be built into Facebook Messenger. Talking to Mashable, Facebook said "Wit.ai has built an incredible yet simple natural language processing application programme interface that has helped developers turn speech and text into actionable data. We’re excited to have them onboard".
All of this indicates that big tech firms believe our future involves communicating with devices that communicate back. The IVA market still has a long way to go before all consumers fully integrate speech recognition into their daily lives. When consumers are ready to take the IVA market more seriously and understand it is more than a gimmick, the likes of Apple, Google, Microsoft and Facebook will compete to ensure you choose their software first.