There is a secular shift in the human machine interface – voice is emerging as the next key interface, building on the major transitions from text to GUI to touch. Just as touch was a more natural interface for users over the mouse / keyboard-screen paradigm, which helped to significantly expand the mass adoption and usage of devices, voice will usher in a whole new set of platforms. Voice is the most natural choice of interaction for humans. Voice is three times faster than typing with 20% less errors. This adoption wave will have an equally significant impact on simplifying information access for the masses. In a couple of years, it will seem arcane that we open a browser app and type search words on a mobile keyboard when we should have just asked our question in natural language.
Voice assistants like Amazon Alexa-Echo, Google Assistant-Home, Apple Siri and Microsoft Cortana are gaining rapid consumer adoption. There will be over 30 million of these devices shipped this year alone. “Actions” on Google – the voice-activated apps that are Google’s answer to Alexa’s “Skills” – are now expanding to the new platforms of iOS and Android as well. With this move, Google will end 2017 with between 850–950mm users that have voice search and a fully “voice-first” capable device in their pocket and home. The market maturity for Amazon Skills or Google Actions is similar to the market for Apps in 2007 – very primitive and simple skills that are stitched together with rudimentary developer tools and standards. So the time is ripe to leverage our capabilities in building compelling voice apps (we have already made one of the best ones that was recognized in global competition).
We have learned a lot through that experience on how to design an engaging conversation with a user. We are developing compelling voice apps in select verticals that reflect all the knowledge from our experience and are also re-writing these features into a platform that other developers can use. Our Conversation Platform for Voice Assistants is designed to help develop the next generation voice applications. It builds on several foundational technologies such as deep Q&A. Some of its salient features include multi-platform support, ability to answer naturally phrased questions at any point in the conversation through our deep Q&A technology, a richly functional dialog manager that can support intricately crafted complex dialogs, a methodology and tools to design and develop complex dialogs, support for highly personalized interactions, and rich business functionality.