Billed as the world’s largest voice event, the New Jersey Institute of Technology is hosting Voice Summit 2019, sponsored by Amazon Alexa, this week. The four-day, voice-tech conference, which kicked off yesterday and runs through July 25, is exploring all facets of voice technology, giving attendees a glimpse into how this next generation of technology might seamlessly integrate into their lives, much like smartphones have over the course of the past decade.
More than 5,000 attendees from 26 different countries are converging on Newark to attend Voice over the course of the week. The event includes 350 speakers and more than 2,500 developers and executives hailing from tech giants such as Amazon, Samsung and Microsoft, to a variety of smaller startups all committed to advancing innovations in voice technology and artificial intelligence.
Today’s events kicked off with three keynote presentations which touched on exciting new features related to existing voice platforms and devices such as advancements in Amazon’s Alexa and Echo, Microsoft’s Cortana and Samsung’s new Bixby Marketplace – which launched in the United States at the beginning of the month.
Adam Cheyer, co-founder of both Viv Labs and Siri, Inc., companies acquired by Samsung and Apple respectively, says that Bixby Marketplace will serve as an open ecosystem that developers can continuously enrich, and will enable users to enjoy a much more personal and intuitive mobile experience.
The takeaway here, which rings true for all smart devices, is that as more user input is gathered, existing smart devices will continue learning and as a result, get “smarter,” and be capable of completing more complex tasks.
Dave Isbitski, chief evangelist for Alexa and Echo at Amazon, highlights Alexa’s skills as an example of this dynamic. Skills are essentially Alexa’s version of apps, where users can enable and disable skills (akin to downloading an app) based on their individual needs. There are currently more than 80,000 skills, overall.
Despite the rapid advancements seen in the voice-tech sphere, we are still in the beginning stages of seeing the true potential of what this type of technology has to offer, according to Cheyer.
“What can we do to show up with voice wherever people are?” asks Noelle LaCharite, principal PM manager for Microsoft search, assistant, and intelligence. “How do we create an environment where anyone can use voice?”
Voice technology may very well be the next digital frontier, but in order for it to realize the same integration into nearly everyone’s daily lives the same way smartphones have, more work needs to be done.
Cheyer says that one of the biggest keys is collaboration.
“The time is now for a new paradigm shift in digital technology,” Cheyer says. “I think we all know what that paradigm shift is.”
He adds that it would be extremely beneficial to have consistent experiences across all platforms when it comes to voice, as well as the ability to have accessibility across all devices.
One thing working in voice technology’s favor for a quick adaptation and integration into society as a whole is that it is one of the most accessible types of digital technology available. There is no steep learning curve, and so long as you can talk, you can reap the benefits of a smart device.
“My kids are just as excited and up to speed on the tech as my parents,” Isbitski says. “There is no barrier to voice.”
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