We currently live in a world where voice assistants and AI have by-passed science fiction and have become a basic, even a necessary part of everyday life. According to eMarketer, it is estimated that one in six Americans own a smart speaker (think Google Home or Alexa) and that 2020 will see over 100 million smartphone users utilize vocal command technology. With AI and voice assistants permeating personal and professional spheres, such as commerce, healthcare, and banking, we can predict a few potential outcomes of these technologies that we will likely see in the next ten years.
1. Billions with a “B”
Techcrunch reported back in February that the use of voice assistants is likely to increase to roughly eight billion devices by 2023. This is triple what was seen at the end of 2018 when it was reported that 2.5 billion users were employing these digital assistants. With the combined use of smartphones and smart speakers, this number actually isn’t terribly hard to believe.
2. TV Land
With the exponential increase in vocal and AI assistants, it’s important to predict which devices will see the biggest increase in use. TV fanatics, rejoice: it is believed that the majority of these assistants in 2023 will come from Smart TVs as opposed to speakers. Juniper Research believes that in the next four years, Smart TV use will increase 121.3% CAGR (or compound annual growth rate) while smart speakers will only see an increase of 43.3% CAGR. So, it may behoove you to grab that AppleTV while you can.
3. Digital Commerce
Juniper makes another prediction: that commerce will increase with the ubiquitous use of AI, reaching $80 billion per annum by 2023, but this commerce will come in the form of money transfers and digital, rather than physical, goods. Digital goods are anything that can be stored, downloaded, and used in an electronic format - so the use of digital assistants to obtain digital goods makes a lot of sense. This fact alone lends some credence to the smart TV or smart speaker growth when customers can see as well as request specific goods.
4. The Digital Middle-Man
With the prevalence of vocal technology in our everyday lives, the need to integrate voice-technology into more applications and devices will be crucial. The idea is to make more technology compatible with these AIs. Clearbridge estimates that as early as 2020, we will see digital assistants that can work in tandem with existing apps - even using Bluetooth to make that integration more streamlined.
5. Heightening the “Me” Experience
Like a lot of technology, the need for individualized experiences with a device or app is a drive for innovation. One of the major predictions in the future of AI is an increased personalized experience. This technology is already available on many devices, like Alexa, where users can initiate a “know my voice” protocol, which allows separate users to obtain a unique experience from a signal device. As innovation is driven by competing companies, we’ll see an increase in these unique user experiences from personalized song lists to weather reports all the way to health reports all accessed via voice command.
6. Safety First
Of course, the topic of personalization leads many to worry about the safety of digital assistants - especially for users who may be using credit cards or bank information to make digital purchases through these devices. In fact, there are already safety protocols suggested for various voice assistants. Stay Safe Online even recommends users go through old conversations and delete recordings on a regular basis to avoid the risk of information and identity theft. Many devices even allow the capability to initiate multi-step authentication, such as a secondary biometric login. But will self-regulating AIs be a feature of the future? Devices that are able to delete conversations themselves or store them in a password protected Cloud could be in the future.
When playing this prediction game, there are of course many paths to explore and entertain, such as voice-to-text capabilities that could revolutionize how verbal communication is recorded, heightened AI interactions with integrated voice/touch interactions, and increased voice-only searches. But starting with the technology we are already seeing emerge is a great touchpoint in forecasting the future of these technologies and how they will continue being inextricably linked into our everyday life. From the data we already see in our digital interactions with these devices, we can accurately assume that our reliance on them for commercial and personal uses will continue to grow at a rapid rate. The future is now as much as it is tomorrow.