For those of you following technology industry trends, it would not be surprising that many experts have been calling 2017 the “Year of Voice”. Along with VR and AI, voice recognition has the potential for highly meaningful long-term development. Instead of controlling everything via apps, we can now talk to virtual assistants to control everything from our computers to our cars, to our home.
The tech industry is increasingly focused on developing improvements and innovations in voice-controlled devices and services, following the success of Amazon’s Echo smart home device and the company’s Alexa personal assistant, in addition to Apple’s Siri and other initiatives. In fact, it’s Amazon that has really taken voice-controlled platforms mainstream.
The music industry is also exploring the possibilities for voice-controlled technology. Recent reports indicated that Spotify may be going into the hardware business in the near future, based on earlier job posts saying that the company wants to build “a category-defining product akin to Pebble Watch, Amazon Echo, and Snap Spectacles” that will “affect the way the world experiences music and talk content.” Although the details of Spotify’s plans are unclear, the job listing said that the device would be Internet connected and come directly from Spotify, thereby making it clear that it won’t be a simple integration with another company’s device.
Competition among major players in the voice and music space is growing rapidly. Amazon has already launched a music streaming service called Amazon Music Unlimited that can be controlled via the company’s Echo smart home device, allowing users to find and play music with voice commands. This service is quite advanced, with the ability to ask an Echo smart hub to find music based on mood, the decade of launch, lyrics or most recent release. Apple Music can also be controlled with voice commands via Siri to find and play songs, while Amazon’s Echo already supports Pandora, iTunes, and Spotify.
Certainly, voice-controlled technology is still far from perfect, but it has come a long way since the tech’s humble beginnings. In particular, the word error rate for voice-recognition systems dropped from 43 percent in 1995 to just 6.3 percent this year and is now on par with humans. Naturally, it is expected that we’ll see major advancements soon for the music industry as well as other sectors.
The maturing development of cognitive services and voice interfaces will also bring a far more advanced level of chatbots in the near future. These new technologies are being combined in innovative ways. For example, Vinci Smart Headphones from China features an Alexa-style voice-controlled assistant that learns the user’s listening preferences and tracks their activity.
Along with AI, voice recognition has the potential for highly meaningful long-term development. Here, the software, not the hardware, will largely determine success in the market. As voice-controlled technology improves, and companies offer more sophisticated and innovative products to the public, hands-free control for music searching and listening is likely to become a standard for the majority of consumers. Already, consumers are eagerly adopting speaker-based voice assistants, with shipments of Google Home and Amazon Echo speakers expected to climb more than threefold to 24.5 million in 2017, according to a report from VoiceLabs.
Innovations in voice tech hold the potential to radically change the way that consumers search for and listen to music. Having the ability to simply say what you’re looking for instead of manually searching for specific albums, songs or moods makes the process quicker and more intuitive, and it’s expected that an increasing number of music fans will want to utilize these capabilities in the future. And this current level of functionality may be only the beginning of what will become possible moving forward.
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