Speak, and I Will Find.

Posted by Flux on 

18 January 2017

What’s trending now
They’re calling 2017 technology’s Year of the Voice thanks to the commercial tipping point of Voice activated IPA’s. It’s a bit of a mouthful and is, in essence, two tech trends converging. IPA, stands for Intelligent Personal Assistant (aka Virtual Personal Assistant), and the voice activation functionality is the commercial and consumer gateway that will lead us to the artificial intelligence (AI) that is embedded in these IPA’s.

Why it’s important
You might have been hearing about the Internet of Things (IOT) for some time now, where – in a near future world – all your household appliances are connected (and speaking to each other). The technology has been around for a while but the commercial tipping point never seemed to arrive, until now.

Voice activation is a massive mega trend and one that Flux believes will be the glue that will bind the Internet of Things.

Voice activation makes use of a natural language interface, which enables you to speak to your device and ask questions or issue instructions. The device in turn can now listen to your questions or instructions, and searches the internet for answers. In essence, any internet search you now type into your laptop, or instructions to active an app (like music), can now simply be executed with a voice command.

You can ask your IPA what the weather is going to be, what’s in your diary for the day, play some music, tune into a radio station on the other side of the planet, switch on your lights and even order a pizza or Uber for you. As one tech writer said, it’s “terrifyingly convenient”.

What’s the butterfly effect
So say goodbye to Web browsers and mobile home screens as our default portals to the Internet. IPA’s make those kinds of activities look and feel quaintly old-school and outdated. But while most people would scoff at the gimmicky side of IPA’s (it’s to web browsing what TV remotes are to cable TV), the collaborations already being agreed upon with car manufactures, appliance makers and broadcasters reveal myriad possibilities for residential as well as business applications.

The important undercurrent to this technology is the “deep learning” possibilities of AI. The more you use your IPA, the more it learns about you, your preferences as well as your lifestyle, and could soon pre-empt your requests. This scares a lot of people for whom the Rise of the Machines leads to a dystopian future for humanity. People like Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk have already warned about the dangers of unleashing AI.

We’ve arrived at that crossroads, and it might already be too late to turn back. Your cellphone service provider, your social media platforms, the apps you use daily, as well as your web browser, know more about you than you think (or would be comfortable with).

The pioneers
Apple launched Siri in 2011, and Amazon followed with Echo in 2014 and now Google (Home) and Microsoft (Cortana) have joined the race to put an IPV in your home, or car.

At CES (the Consumer Electronics Show) this year, more and more “smart” appliances were unveiled – anything from hairbrushes and umbrellas (for which most people are questioning if these are actually useful) to AI enabled robot “companions” (we used to call them toys) for kids. This just broadens the platform and possibility for IPA’s.

It’s a tech trend that’s rising fast. If you’re worried about the Rise of the Machines, this is their language and means of communication.

Best you learn to speak to them.

By: Dion Chang

About Dion

Image and video credit: Google Home

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