Technology | Media | Telecommunications

Friday, May 22, 2020

The Evolution of Commercial Voice Assistant Applications

Voice-enabled user interfaces have reached mainstream adoption. The value chain for voice assistants is rapidly expanding to include emerging applications. Device vendors, system integrators, software app developers and cloud providers will offer solutions for a growing list of voice assistant use cases.

Juniper Research estimates that voice assistants will be in use on over 4 billion devices by the end of 2020. The mass adoption of artificial intelligence, and chatbots in particular, is fueling the rapid shift towards voice-activated services.

Voice Assistant Market Development

Internet of Things (IoT) devices and more practical applications are enabling voice assistants to deliver tangible value. Microphones are everywhere and access to voice assistants has become ubiquitous, with more technology companies eager to monetize this trend.

Voice communication isn't the only method of interaction with artificial intelligence (AI) software. For example, Google Assistant also supports text-based interaction with the device user, as well as voice interaction.

According to the latest worldwide market study by Juniper Research, people will interact with voice assistants on over 8.4 billion devices by 2024 -- overtaking the world’s population and growing by 113 percent. Despite this growth, the monetization of the voice assistants remains a challenge.

The new study found that automotive voice assistants and those connected to TV sets will have the highest rate of growth, largely due to the ability to use voice assistants through peripherals, rather than new devices.


However, this use case depends on changing consumer behavior -- it's estimated that less than half of TVs capable of voice assistant functions will actually use the capability to interact with the device.

"Ingrained habits of how devices are used will restrict opportunities for voice assistants and voice commerce," said James Moar, lead analyst at Juniper Research. "Vendors should focus on driving usage almost as much as promoting device sales."

Even with the growing proliferation of different voice assistant enabled devices, Juniper Research expects that smartphones will continue their dominance of this technology space. Other devices will be comparatively underused in many markets.

Despite having more than double the population of North America, the number of voice assistant devices in Europe will only exceed North America by 2022, and then only marginally, due to fewer devices being launched into those markets.

Outlook for Commercial Voice Assistant Applications

Juniper analysts believe that while several voice assistant vendors are pivoting towards productivity applications and enterprise usage, this will likely be a relatively small market. As an example, less than 354 million PCs will have active voice assistants.

Juniper Research recommends voice assistant vendors and service providers that target the PC market should emphasize voice interaction as part of a wider ecosystem of device and data management, with more automation use cases.

I believe enterprise developers will design voice and visual experiences for smart devices such as mobile phones, speakers, and displays. They'll also build end-to-end conversational experiences with Dialogflow, Google's natural language platform which incorporates AI machine learning expertise.