Over the last several years, the future of voice recognition technology has quietly arrived through a variety of consumer devices. Perhaps most notably, Apple’s Siri voice recognition application became a feature of the iPhone 4S in October of 2011. Today, Amazon, Microsoft and Google and many others have all developed their own voice recognition solutions.
Today an estimated 40% of all smartphones feature voice recognition functionality. Additionally, a recent report by Markets & Markets estimates the value of the speech recognition market to reach USD 9.97 Billion by 2022.
As hearable technology now puts the power of a personal computer into a pair of truly wireless earbuds, how might this impact the future of voice recognition?
The Applications of Speech Recognition Paired with Wireless Earbuds
In a recent post on Backchannel, serial entrepreneur Jon Li described his experience using a pair of very basic Bluetooth wireless earbuds. He used these earbuds in conjunction with speech recognition technology on his phone. Over a 2-week period, the scope of applications for this pairing was eye opening. His experience offers a look at the future of voice recognition:
“I could multi-task with a stream of information feeding me while walking, working, or making dinner. I could leave my phone in my pocket or at my desk without having to constantly check it for notifications. I could send messages (though not as efficiently as texting) by speaking to Siri… At night: commuting home from work, talking to family, cooking to a podcast, falling asleep to music as my girlfriend lay in bed with no idea that I had a computer in my ear.”
Despite the many positives, Li also noted the shortcomings of the device. Ear discomfort, poor battery life, poor Bluetooth connectivity, and perhaps most notably, “the awkward social implications where people thought I was paying attention but in reality, I was engaged with the latest Serial podcast.”
Why Hearables are the Next Breakthrough for Voice Recognition Technology
Through a combination of intelligent noise cancellation, speech amplification, and Bluetooth technology, IQbudsTM allow users to customize the blend of their physical and digital audio environments. This hearable technology enables a digital experience to be maintained without completely blocking out one’s physical surroundings. Its gives users the control to not only hear what they want to in their immediate environment, but also the ability to interact with their voice recognition-enabled digital devices without picking up or touching these devices.
Furthermore, significant product research and development, prototype testing and now with tens of thousands of consumers using them, and the vast experience of Nuheara researchers ensures that IQbudsTM eliminates most (if not all) of the shortcomings noted in Li’s two-week experiment.
Devices such as IQbudsTM elevate the adoption of voice-controlled devices, making them more effective and useful to the average user. In-ear microphones embedded on both earbuds allow for clear communication from the user to their devices. This capability reduces the need to hold a smartphone up to one’s mouth to give voice-activated commands in a noisy social or outdoor setting. Ultimately this makes the use of speech recognition far more practical.
The ability to control the mix between a user’s digital and real-world noise environment limits distractions. As a result, simple activities like riding a bicycle while listening to music become much safer. The increased safety is a byproduct of enhanced situational awareness. Furthermore, the combination of hearables and voice recognition technology will enable much more than just passive listening while riding a bike.
For example, while wearing IQbudsTM, a rider could ask Siri or Google for directions to the nearest café through voice activated commands. Alternative, the rider could allow SIRI to guide them through an exercise routine. This would all be done without ever removing one’s hands from the handlebars, or fumbling through pockets for a smartphone.
It wasn’t too long ago that speech recognition was viewed as a cool novelty, without a whole lot of practical usage in everyday environments. However, the growing adoption of speech recognition, in conjunction with recent advances in hearable technology, opens up a whole new world of opportunity. This technology has the potential to fundamentally change consumer behavior in profound ways.
The future of voice recognition technology is looking bright thanks to hearables and products like IQbudsTM.