More than 500 million people use the Google voice assistant — found on Android phones and other Google devices like smart speakers — each month. This is just one sign of how quickly voice-powered artificial intelligence (AI) systems are becoming a part of our everyday lives.
You can already ask the Google Assistant to help you with many tasks, from getting a quick update on the news, weather or the rand/dollar exchange rate to reading out your texts, composing a text or playing your favourite playlist of the moment.
And as this technology improves and matures, you can expect voice assistants to be everywhere—your car, home, personal devices—and for them to be able to do even more amazing things. Here are five ways voice assistants will evolve in the years to come:
1. More personalisation
Over time, you can expect the voice assistants that surround you to be better able to understand and respond to your context, needs and preferences. Google already supports a feature called Voice Match on some devices like smart speakers and is rolling them out across more devices.
This technology lets you train the assistant to recognise your voice. It can then pull up your calendar, personal messages, personal settings, and other personal info. You can get what you need from the smart device without manually needing to sign in to your own Google Account.
2. Voice everywhere
Within five to 10 years, voice assistants will be so prevalent that it will be hard to imagine life without them. You’ll be able to speak to your voice assistant in your car, in-home appliances (like fridges or speakers), on personal computing devices, and even in your hotel room when you’re travelling.
The experience will be consistent and seamless, no matter where you call upon your voice assistant. Whether you’re ordering room service, asking for directions, or simply dimming the lights at home before you go to sleep, you’ll be interacting with a voice AI that remembers your preferences and details.
3. Users will be in control
If the idea of being surrounded by voice-aware devices sounds creepy, do not be alarmed. Most developers of voice AI systems are focusing on building more security and ‘explainability’ into their software.
Voice authentication technology will be used to protect data such as payment details; you’ll also get more control over which of your personal data systems retain and use it. And you’ll also be able to ask your assistant why it did certain things, such as why it recommended a particular product or song to you.
4. Screens + voice AI
In some cases, it’s efficient for you to ask an assistant to do something using your voice, but not for it to respond by speaking. For instance, if you want to order something from a restaurant, you’ll want to look at what’s on the menu.
So, expect to see displays embedded in many devices in the home and office that allow you to read answers, watch videos and make video calls.
5. Higher accuracy levels for every dialect and accent
We can expect voice assistants to get consistently better at understanding human language, enabling us to communicate with them in more natural and streamlined ways.
They’ll make enormous strides in understanding languages, accents, dialects, slang, user contexts and nuances over the next few years.