By Jim Lundy
Last night, as myself and our VP of Sales Don Kibler were preparing for an evening meal, we were using mobile apps to find a decent restaurant. We fiddled with the apps for ten minutes looking for decent places to eat near our hotel, something you’ve probably done if you travel in any capacity. After not finding what we wanted, I finally started talking to my iPhone via the Siri voice interface and asked it “Find me Italian Restaurants near me”. Bam, in less than five seconds I had a list (with ratings) and was able to click on them to see where they were.
That is a small peak into a voice user interface that will help people to become tremendously more productive at home and at work. Siri launched on the iPhone in October 2011 and after people realized what it could do, it drove sales of what some called a boring product in ways no one could have predicted (37 million iPhones were sold in the most recent quarter). As Apple prepares its new products, speculation is that the iPad 3 and new Macs will also offer the Siri voice assistant as well.
On other fronts, IBM has a more powerful, AI based voice assistant Watson, that actually can read millions of pages of information in seconds, process it and make recommendations. IBM is focusing on healthcare, initially, but there are many other applications that we expect to appear.
We’ve already written about Voice Interfaces in recent research and this month, we’ll be publishing a deeper dive into Voice, its role in the workplace and how it will help people and computers do more. There are numerous aspects to this topic, as evidenced by the fact that Apple was able to keep its voice processing chip in the iPhone 4s secret until very recently.
One thing is clear, as the OS Wars heat-up between the likes of Apple, Google and Microsoft, it is less about features and more about how computers interact with and assist humans with tasks. Providers that understand this will have a competitive advantage over those that don’t.