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Business Innovation Blog

Read about marketing, innovation, emerging technology and Design Thinking Methods. Includes lean startup, agile development and rapid prototyping tools.

The Era Of Voice


I am a big fan of the innovation of Amazon. They have reinvented the book experience, the way we host websites, the way we shop. 


Amazon Today

- 310 million active customers.
- Number one in e-retail
- Number one in cloud computing
- Number one in market share for smart speakers

What's next for Amazon?

After attending the massive AWS Innovation Day here in Sydney, Amazon is all-in on one thing: voice.

It would appear they have read the technology tailwinds correctly. Last year the sales in the smart speaker market, voice-powered Echo's and Google Home's, tripled. Analysts are predicting a mind-boggling growth of 60% for this year.

With an install-base approaching 100 million, we can argue a niche product is fast approaching redefinition as a mass-market product. In fact, Amazon is already calling it the decade of voice. With mobile interface being the thing of the bygone era.

Are we in the era of Voice User Interface?

Are we in the era of Voice User Interface?

The Voice Opportunity

Regardless of the Amazon hype, there's plenty of user needs that can be met by a smart speaker powered by voice and artificial intelligence:

  • You can play music
  • You can get a quick weather update
  • You can discover the time 

The most compelling thing about voice as an interface is its invisibility. We are freed of manual input and the need to be stationary. We can complete tasks even faster than with mobile.

That's why ComScore is predicting that 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020. That looks big at first glance, but when you consider that according to Apline.AI there's already one bullion voice searches per month. Then, anything is possible.

Challenges with Voice

Voice interfaces are hard to design. Here are some of the challenges

  • There are no longer any visual prompts and signposts for users. 
  • You cannot show an overview of where a user is in a process.
  • Users often use slang and shortcuts that computers don't understand
  • It's hard to go backwards in a user flow and review what happened

Regardless of the challenges, voice interfaces and smart speakers are taking off. With the backing of Amazon, it's hard to see the momentum slowing. 

So don't be surprised when you find an Amazon Echo speaker in your kitchen, living room and bedroom. You may even find yourself speaking more to your living room speaker than into your smartphone.