#IoT Trends: In a Touchless World, Voice-enabled Applications Will Lead the Way. Is it Ready?
Anyone who works in IoT or smart product development is well aware that voice-enabled technology and applications development has grown leaps and bounds over the last several years.
Just last year nearly 75% of homes had a voice device in their homes and according to IDI and ABI Research, global shipments of smart devices will continue their double digit growth. This growth is due in part to the smart home as people begin to go beyond using voice commands for just shopping, gathering information, or playing their favorite songs. And it’s very clear that voice is growing beyond smartphones, TV remotes, light switches, security systems, thermostats, faucets, and door handles. In fact, new voice technologies and the emergence of AI and Machine Learning are already driving innovative, everyday applications in homes, cars, offices, classrooms, construction sites, retail, industrial spaces, and more. The applications are endless.
Moving into a hands-free touchless world.
Clearly there has been huge acceleration in touchless technology in every space where people need to interact with a shared surface.
And voice-enabled applications, products and devices will lead the way.
Think about the many surfaces in commercial buildings, elevators, offices, hotels, hospitals, industrial spaces, banks, restaurants, and retail. The list goes on. This trend was already in the works before COVID-19 came along. Now, with raised consciousness of the transmission of contagious viruses, voice control shifts from being a “nice-to-have” option to a “must-have” because the public is demanding it.
Once people experience the first elevator they can give a voice command to, or the first vending machine they can order from without having to touch any buttons or screens, consumers will push forward the new normal. The question about “why voice control?” won’t be coming from brands. Instead, “Why can’t I just use my voice for this?” will be the question from consumers.
In a touch-free world, companies that use voice capture technology can enable great experiences in applications as diverse as a classroom-in-a-box, lobby check-ins (hospitality or healthcare), elevator controls, and even hands- free point of sale (POS) products and kiosks.
But is voice recognition ready for a touchless world?
Talking to both clients and consumers, it is clear that there are areas where voice-recognition needs improvement. Our research shows a significant percentage of consumers are not happy with the performance of the standard built-in solutions currently available on the market. The biggest complaint is the limitation to capture voice commands accurately and clearly by the existing brand products. Specifically, they are frustrated when the device doesn’t always hear or understand what is said because the user may be too far away; there may be too much background noise (like streaming music or movies on the TV); or objects in between may cause interference. Another point of frustration is that the device hears words that sound similar to the trigger word and it then becomes confused. The overall lesson learned from all the feedback is that people are tired of screaming at their devices that don’t work as they expect they should.
Enabling a better voice experience
At ArkX Laboratories’ we’ve develop an advanced voice solution that delivers on the promise of enhanced noise reduction, three times the usable range, and more accurate real-world trigger word performance versus traditional beam forming technology used by many competitors.
How does that work? Our EveryWord™ ultra far-field technology is based on 3-D reverberation science. 3-D reverberation doesn’t rely on geometric constraints to define microphone configuration, placement, or orientation. The old beamforming technologies often resulted in false positives and false negatives or required users to repeatedly shout to have devices hear them accurately. 3-D reverberation overcomes those problems.
In addition, our technology tolerates fixed and moving obstructions in the audio path making it perfectly suitable for complex living spaces, workspace, or places with competing talkers and noise.
Another game-changer is the use of 12 independent Acoustic Echo Cancellers (versus the competitions’ standard one or two) that provides superior barge-in performance.
Finally, ArkX offers solutions that are platform-neutral. The ArkX solution is simultaneously compatible with multiple voice services and trigger-word
providers, including Alexa, Google, Siri, Cortana, AliGenie, Baidu/Kitt.ai, Tencent, and Sensory. This allows the user to pick and choose from the best of skills available from each platform and craft a solution that best suits his or her particular needs.
Why OEMs should take notice
From an OEM perspective, there are real limitations with the current built-in options that dominate the voice space. There are a growing number of companies across a wide variety of verticals who want a much higher standard of performance, something that can be customized to work seamlessly within their eco-systems and is uniquely “ownable” by their brand. From a business point of view, a better customer experience can increase brand value and translate into higher margins.
The bottom line is that this technology can be easily built into most electronic devices, allowing nearly any standard device into be converted into a superior performing voice-operated device. Our solutions allow for both exceptionally enhanced human-to-human and human-to-machine speech recognition compared to anything in the marketplace today.
Regardless of the application, it doesn’t take a great deal of imagination to extrapolate what is developing today in cutting-edge companies in the area of voice capture and voice control to envision a day when most (or perhaps all) electronic products will have voice control as a primary method of interaction. It’s no exaggeration to say that the future is voice and the future has arrived.
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