Where are voice assistants going in the next few years?

Where are voice assistants going in the next few years?
Voice assistant use is projected to triple in the next five years, according to a study by Juniper Research. The study predicts growth from 2.5 billion at the end of 2018 to eight billion by 2023.
 
Smartphones will have the lion’s share of the installed base, thanks to the device’s ubiquity and the popularity of Siri and Google Assistant. The ability to preload an assistant onto a phone, rather than making a distinct purchase for an assistant device, is driving the adoption.
 
Connected TV-based voice assistants are poised to witness the fastest growth, as the smart TV itself is a growing product category. Voice assistants have increasingly become a standard feature on smart TVs, while it remains either a premium feature or an unused one in many other product categories.
 
Smart speakers and wearables are the second and third quickest growing products using voice assistants. In these categories, Amazon Alexa has gained a foothold, establishing itself as the leader in the market and setting the industry pace, Jupiter says. It is worth noting that Chinese companies will make inroads internationally in the future.

The following is a brief summary and main findings from Juniper Research's whitepaper, entitled "The Digital Assistants of Tomorrow."

Voice control becomes part of everyday life

As simpler interactions become outsourced entirely to voice assistant devices, screen time on smartphones is reduced. There are also indications that smart speakers are more integrated into people’s daily routines.
 
With these assistants integrating third party apps and functionalities, their scope and capabilities are reaching the point to provide and facilitate many services in consumers’ lives and business-to-business usage has appeared.

Multi-platform usage as the trend

Voice assistants are essentially cloud-based software, which means that in theory any device can host any number of voice assistants. However, multi-assistant devices have not really emerged. Instead, brands are offering different ranges of devices to cater for different assistants. HARMAN International is a case in ponit, with the Harman/Kardon Allure speakers integrating Alexa, the Harman/Kardon Invoke incorporating Cortana, and a range of JBL Link devices supporting Google Assistant.
 
"There have been moves from some companies to incorporate more than one voice assistant in a given device. Microsoft and Amazon agreed to make Alexa and Cortana accessible through each other’s assistant in 2018, while Sonos intends to integrate both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa into its smart speakers," says the report.
 
Nonetheless, actual integration has not been forthcoming. "The Alexa-Cortana partnership is still in its pilot stage, and Sonos’ integration with Google Assistant, while originally planned for 2018, has been delayed until an undefined point in 2019. Juniper expects these plans to be in place by the end of 2019, with multi-platform voice assistant starting to gain traction in 2020 and beyond," says the report.

Process simple queries only

Most people use voice assistants (particularly smart speakers) to gain general information. However, this same simplicity is likely to hold assistants back. Checking the weather, news and asking for music to be played are relatively simple requests for which it is easy to have prepared responses and information.
 
Parsing complex queries and then responding in an effective manner are not something that today’s technologies can manage. As such, “the tasks given to voice assistants will remain in the domain of simple everyday queries for some time,” Jupiter says.

Use in the commercial space

In B2B deployments, voice assistants are implemented mainly in organizational space for intelligently sorting and booking meetings and appointments. They can range from conference call scheduling to office cleaning, depending on the situation.
 
Using voice assistant as a conference calling tool is also of particular interest to businesses. Voice assistants that integrate with a calendar (most notably Google Assistant and Microsoft’s Cortana) can connect users to a meeting with a simple verbal command. In addition, some companies are providing the functionality to automatically record calls and email recordings, transcripts or both to participants.


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