tactile voice tribune

Will the voice era supplant the touchscreen revolution ?


We were talking about it more than 10 years ago now, the day the first smartphones came and changed the world of mobile telephony with their out-of-the-box connectivity and… their touch screen. Before the launch of the iPhone in 2007, touch screens were used almost exclusively by companies that could afford to pay for experimental studies on this technology. This strategic move by Apple made it possible to democratize a technology that was still nested to dethrone analog, the standard for object control at that time.
However, as with any innovation, the touchscreen continues to evolve but its margin of progression is shrinking year after year to finally become a technology that is already proven and struggling to really re-enchant the consumer.

Is voice about to revolutionize uses in the same way that touch has done in the past ?


The limits of touch.


First of all, it is important to highlight what restricts the use of touch by nature. Although touch is a new way of interacting with technology, it is nonetheless a process related to “touch” from which it inherits the same issues. Among them, we find in particular limitations related to hygiene, as touch is one of the main vectors of transmission of bacteria and viruses, also favoured by the heat emitted by screens.

Touch also has its limits in terms of user experience. For younger people, it remains very intuitive, for older people, the methods of use require more thought and adaptation. It is easier to say “Set the alarm clock at 8:30” rather than find the alarm clock application on the phone, activate the right schedule and confirm for a senior citizen.

On the other hand, touch is part of the multiplication of screens in our daily lives, which has several drawbacks. First of all, the harmfulness of blue lights for the human eye, observed by researchers in Toledo in the United States, which has the effect of increasing macular degeneration: the natural ageing of eyesight around the age of 50-60. Moreover, the multiplication of screens, whether tactile or not, has never really been welcomed by the public, generally causing attention disorders and increasingly perceptible visual pollution. This is why voice technology is now making its appearance and making it possible to limit screen time.


Why does the voice represent the future ?


It is already important to start from the very nature of voice technology, which is about the interaction between human and machine through the voice. As it is more natural for a human being to speak rather than write or try to communicate. Thus, the use of voice, or natural language, allows any user to have access to an interface that is more intuitive in its operation.

Indeed, it is no longer necessary to search through x number of parameters, nor to search for keywords to find the desired functionality. Now a simple voice command, precise enough, allows to achieve the desired functionality.

Moreover, this type of interaction is completely dematerialised, as it uses the sound of the voice both to be activated and to operate, thus reducing hygiene problems. At the same time, the nomadic use of technologies is favoured by voice because no manipulation is required to access the desired functions such as GPS in a vehicle or a recipe during the preparation of a meal. Not forgetting people with disabilities (non-voice-related) who thus benefit from an interface giving them more autonomy.


Concrete cases of use.


Voice has already gained a certain notoriety, especially among the general public with the massive democratization it has experienced through smartphones and more recently connected speakers. Faced with this market in full structuring and showing a fraction of its potential, many players, other than GAFAM, have launched themselves into voice recognition technologies, confident in the future of this mode of interaction and the possibilities it brings. Examples are numerous and cover all sectors of activity such as telephony, hotels, IoT, retail and e-commerce.

Automotive giants such as Mercedes, Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi and PSA have come to surf the voice wave. These companies have equipped their vehicles directly with voice assistants to keep users’ hands on the wheel, with the safety aspect highlighted here. Usage cases such as changes in music, temperature, GPS and many others can be controlled by voice. In the same vein, the medical sector is also making its debut in voice with the Dragon medical solution, which allows transcription for surgeons. Voice dictation solutions are booming in order to have quality meeting content without wasting time.

However, it is not only large companies that are betting on voice solutions for the future. Several smaller but no less innovative projects emerge. Independent hoteliers are starting to turn to voice solutions to rethink their hotels. At the same time, startups are launching into voice to boost their product with a functionality that is on the rise.


Towards the vocal revolution ?


According to the various initiatives in this area, we can only think that the voice has a bright future ahead of it. However, the adoption of new technologies, especially those with different uses, is much more complex than it seems. Indeed, many parameters, such as perceived usefulness and complexity, are taken into account when designing this innovation as a new standard.

Nevertheless, we can already see good predictions for the future with voice, which will be a logical link between the different components of the IoT and its connectivity. Similarly, as technology evolves, the conversational interface and the humanization of technologies tend to strengthen to offer an ever better user experience.

In short, voice seems to be an appropriate response to the problems identified by the emergence of touch without overshadowing it; the two media can co-exist and complement each other. It is not yet necessary today to take a position entirely in favour of one to the detriment of the other. Tactile and voice are still compatible technologies.