Alexa, What’s all the buzz about you and your sisters?

Voice assistant- Is it a necessity – or overhyped – like Google Glass? Will it survive the test of time?

If you are a fan of the Star Trek series, you’d remember this scene in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home(1986) where Chief Engineer Scotty travels back to 1986 with the Enterprise crew. He is given a computer and he goes like, “Hello Computer” using the mouse as his microphone. He gets surprised for not receiving a response. When given a keyboard to operate the computer with, he says “How quaint!”.

I am sure if Chief Scotty travels back to 2018, he wouldn’t find our tech that “quaint”.

Voice User interface (VUI) is taking the world by storm. The Smart Audio Report finds out, in just three years the smart speakers are “already outpacing the adoption rates of smartphones and tablets”. But before we dive into the core of the craze, let’s see what is exactly Voice User Interface.

Voice User Interface, allows you to interact or control your devices using your voice.

Gone are the days when you have to find your device and look into the screen to just know the time or book a cab. Ask your virtual assistant and you shall get your job done! This technology is truly maximising the power of multitasking.

Infographics from Canalys showing the increase in demand for Smart speaker

Now let me answer the 3 burning questions related to VUI for you without any delay.

Why is there a sudden uproar for Voice user interface(VUI)?

Humans are wired for speech. It’s a common childhood imagination of having a computer with A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) like J.A.R.V.I.S to save the world like Iron man or have it just as our friend.

Butters talking to Awesome-O in South Park
Credits : Comedy Central

So, this concept was not only well established in our imaginations but was way ahead being tried and tested in the research world.

With this comes the next question.

If this idea came to us long time ago, what took us so long to bring it into existence?

Developing a VUI is like building a personality for a novel’s character. Similarly, a machine has to be provided with data and the power to process it to build a personality. This is being given to the machines in the form of cloud computing, data mining and machine learning.

You can also check this amazing video below which shows an experiment performed in Michigan University called “Donald Sherman orders a pizza using a talking computer, Dec 4, 1974” where a pizza is ordered from Mr.Mike’s using a computer.

Credits : John Eulenberg (YouTube Channel)

But one of the common questions being asked around is, when we have mobile applications doing everything we want and more, why do we need a voice assistant?

The beauty of speech is, it’s a skill which encompasses a wide range of people. For example, my granny has a hard time setting an alarm on her smartphone. She comes to me saying “Tanushree, I want to set an alarm for 5 A.M. Can you please set it up on this phone?”

Now imagine the joy she’d experience when she gets her work done on her own by simply telling Alexa, Siri or any other voice assistant to do it for her.

Credits : The Star Online (YouTube Channel)

Speech is a skill which brings different ages, people with imparities together to enjoy technology. It is definitely not solving the problem for all, but it’s making a right step towards including everyone.

How Scketch is making use of VUI

At Scketch, we love to learn, incorporate and work with new technology for two reasons. First, it helps us to study the pros and cons of the technology. We accordingly play with it and extract the best out of it. Secondly, it helps in analyzing and predicting where the world of technology is heading towards. This helps us to equip our clients with advanced technology which sets them apart from their competition.

We wanted to accomplish an important task in a much more exciting way. Our forever-energized developers set out to the adventure of building a skill for Alexa, which would add more tech and pep in our weekdays.

This is how Sckarlett, our talking logbook skill came to life!

She helps our employees to not only login and logout. She helps us in our other tasks like leaves and time sheet management, providing monthly and weekly stats to the reporting head of different departments and more.

Do you want to venture in this exciting world of VUI? If you do, feel free to contact us at info[@]

7 Apr, 18 By Naveen Kolhapur

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