Headspace Product VP on Voice Technology
From new ways of meditating on the go to introducing mindfulness to your daily routine, Randhir Vieira harnesses the power of voice technology to make an impact on people's lives. While voice products represent one of the fastest growing segments in tech, Randhir outlines how the foundation for voice tech brings us back to our earliest forms of communication.
Voice Technology: Modernizing Original Communication
It’s time to go all the way back to the very beginning. Prior to the advent of “technology,” the first human communications “product” was the use of our voice. Even before we had formal language, our ancestors used primitive sounds to share information and deliver messages. In many ways, the rapid rise of voice technology is bringing people back to our earliest forms of connecting with one another.
One of the consequences of modern technology is the requirement for human beings to adapt to it. For example, we need to learn how to use a keyboard to type text or move a mouse to open a window. Even with the most intuitive touch devices, there’s a period of familiarization required for users to fully master its capabilities. Conversely, voice technology enables people to innately connect with technology by removing all friction. In other words, it represents a full-circle return to our most instinctive communication preferences.
In many ways, voice technology allows the “core tech” to fade into the background. Unlike other tech-enabled products that require a specific interaction, voice products make it easy to forget that you’re interacting with anything at all. Instead, you’re just being yourself – whether you’re asking about the weather or dictating a text message. This experience is equal parts amazing and disarming at the same time, as we’ve become so used to interacting with tangible products with a screen or solid interface.
To quote Digital News: “The age of touch could soon come to an end. From smartphones and smartwatches, to home devices, to in-car infotainment systems, touch is no longer the primary user interface.”
Even in the ever-changing landscape that is Silicon Valley, voice technology is taking off at unprecedented levels. According to Gartner, voice-based commands drove 30 percent of all technology interactions in 2018. In addition, 50 percent of online search will be voice-enabled by 2020 (according to Comscore).
Furthermore, the adoption rate for voice products is outpacing original cell phones and smartphones respectively. For example, voice technology accounted for 2 percent of all tech product sales. By 2020, this will increase to 60 percent. This means that voice technology will achieve the adoption rate of smartphones in 4 years – compared to several decades for more mature tech products. Simply put, the voice wave is setting the standard for tech innovation – even if it seems like the wave just showed up yesterday.