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What Does The Future of Voice Activation Look Like?

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Voice activation is the latest trend in the world of tech. Amazon came out with the Echo and Google are now following suit with the Home. When these devices are combined with everything else, you get a home that can be controlled simply by the power of voice. This tech seems set to stay and it’s gaining ground fast. If it’s here to stay then it’s going to change the way that we do things in a massive way but how exactly will it do that? There are so many possibilities when it comes to voice-activated tech and nobody can be certain where it will lead us. However, there are some obvious next steps that companies are starting to work on right now. This is what the future of voice activation looks like.

It Will Understand More

I remember the first time I used voice activation. It was on an old flip up Motorola mobile phone in the early 2000’s. I would press the button and shout somebody’s name into the speaker five times before giving up and just pressing the buttons. These days it’s improved drastically but it still struggles sometimes. The technology is always advancing and soon you’ll be able to talk to your devices in the same way that you’d speak to a real person and it should be able to pick up on all of those subtleties.

As well as being better at hearing you, it will be far better at understanding you. At the moment, voice activation tech is essentially recording what you say and transferring that into basic commands. The assistants that you have on your phone might give the impression of a higher level of intelligence than that but if you think about it, all they’re doing is Googling what you’ve just said to them most of the time. However, that will all change in the future because of advancements in artificial intelligence.

When computers are able to learn and understand more complex ideas, they won’t simply be directing you towards information that you could find on the internet yourself. They will be taking that information, processing it and giving you reasoned answers. This will prove to be transformative technology because you will be able to ask them complex, multi-layered questions and get an answer similar to that of a human. Companies like Mindmeld have already been working on this and in 2014 they released the first working prototype of their software which allows voice activation of any of the apps on your device. This is significant because instead of simply using voice activation to trigger basic commands, the software has a deeper understanding of your device and the apps on it.

They’ll Always Be Listening

That sounds a bit ominous but it isn’t necessarily as scary as it needs to be. Lots of people in the tech industry think that the natural next step is to have voice activation technology that will always be listening to you. Some of them already are but you can turn it off. The reason behind this is so it can anticipate your needs and provide you with solutions before even asking. Imagine you’re sat around with friends, arguing about some stupid insignificant fact. At the moment, one of you would get your phone out and ask Siri before gloating at one another about who was right. In the future, the computer will listen to your conversation and cut in with the right answer before you’ve even started. In that context, it doesn’t sound very useful but the possibilities of this are endless.

If you’re at home and all of your food ordering is set up online and linked to your voice activation devices, it can listen to you and make adjustments accordingly. For example, if it hears you say that you’ve run out of eggs halfway through the week, it’ll know that it needs to order more the following week.

It also has great applications in the workplace. In the past, if you were in a meeting and somebody asked to see the figures for the last three years, you’d need to get an assistant to trawl through the computer and find them. In the future, it’ll be there for you as soon as anybody mentions it.

They Will All Combine

The general trend in technology is moving towards all-encompassing devices. Your smartphone can do pretty much everything, and in-home voice activation devices connect to lots of things around the home but at the moment there is still a lack of cross-platform cooperation.

This won’t work in a decade or so because people will want to control everything by voice. To this end, it’s likely that more general systems will be developed and they will be able to tap into any electronic devices that you have, including your phone and your car so you can run everything easily, by voice.

It Will Make Computers More Intelligent

While advances in artificial intelligence will improve voice activation applications, that improvement will work the other way around as well. Computers that can learn are in the early stages of development and there are already programs that can learn to recognize basic objects by sight. Once this technology is more advanced, these programs will need information to learn and grow. If they can tap into the voice activation devices that we will all be using in our day to day lives, they will have unlimited access to a huge amount of stimulation. That means that instead of researchers having to manually input all of the information like they do now, they can simply let the program listen and learn by itself.

Is It Dangerous?

Lots of people have their misgivings about this kind of tech because they don’t like the idea of an intelligent machine listening to them all of the time. One of the biggest fears is that the machines will become far more intelligent than us and decide that they don’t want to be our slaves anymore and before you know it you’re in the middle of a dystopian sci-fi.

But how realistic is this? At the moment, technology is a long way off this so there’s no need to worry about it any time soon. In terms of the future, the truth is that we just don’t know.

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