What Does the Future of Voice Assistants Look Like and What Could Be the Security Concerns?
Innovation and creativity have evolved, and lives are being made more comfortable with every technology created.
Come on – a portable device talking back to you? Take me to the ‘70s where voice technology would have sounded like a big joke.
Today, however, technological advances and trends have skyrocketed – serving a high number of users. There are now devices that can turn on your lights, television, computers, turn on showers, etc. Everything is now automated.
76% of smartphone owners have been reported to make use of voice assistants.
These devices also work in cars, offices, and tablets – all that’s needed is to speak. After all, it’s been assured that ideas which cannot be commercialised are just passing thoughts.
What Is A Voice Assistant?
A Voice Assistant can be described as a digital help that utilises the recognition of voices. It is known for its artificial intelligence, synthesis of speech and processing of natural language.
Alongside voice authentication, it is used to provide services through a particular application or more. It is a software agent that’s prompted by verbal commands.
What You Need to Know About Voice Assistants
Voice assistants are activated through voice – obviously – and have to be connected to the internet. Without a proper internet connection, these voice assistants won’t produce the desired results.
Voice assistants aim to help reduce stress and make daily tasks easy. They’re both male and female correspondents – but mostly females. However, for most devices, you can select whichever correspondent you want.
These digital devices can interpret human speech while responding via synthesised voices. As mentioned earlier, services and tasks are performed after verbal commands by the owner.
Voice assistants have inbuilt microphones and are not just restricted to smartphone apps. Automobiles, healthcare services, retail services, telecommunication, and education sectors also benefit from them.
Different advanced technology companies have their voice assistants installed in various devices — Amazon’s smart speakers, Android mobile phones, Apple’s Siri, ‘OK’ Google, etc.
Below are a few types of voice assistants and their developers:
- ‘Alice’ developed by Yandex
- ‘Ali Genie’ developed by Alibaba Group
- ‘Assistant’ developed by Speaktoit
- ‘Alexa’ (a.k.a Echo) developed by Amazon.com
- ‘Bixby’ developed by Samsung Electronics
- ‘Blackberry Assistant’ developed by Blackberry Limited
- ‘Cortana’ developed by Microsoft
- ‘Google Assistant’ and ‘Google Now’ developed by Google
- ‘M’ developed by Facebook
- ‘Siri’ developed by Apple Inc.
- ‘Viv’ (a.k.a Bixby) developed by Samsung Electronics
The artificial intelligent software mentioned above can only be used when the chosen devices are online.
What Situations Can Voice Assistants Be Used?
Smartphones are going to be the focus of this subject. You know that moment when Apple’s Siri asks, ‘what can I help you with?’
Then further adds, ‘go ahead, I’m listening.’ These responses will only come after your verbal prompt – ‘hey Siri.’
Siri can recognize your voice because it has already been pre-recorded for ease of recognition. On your smartphones, there are various tasks you can ask your voice assistants to perform.
Saying ‘OK’ Google’ on Android mobile phones will immediately awaken the Google Assistant.
The fact that the voice assistants can recognise your need for help is impressive. Below are a few tasks which voice assistants can help you achieve with ease:
- Voice assistants can help with performing social media tasks. For example, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Telegram, Pinterest, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Snapchat, YouTube etc.
- Voice assistants can also help make phone calls, facetime, and access contacts.
- Voice assistants can perform search tasks because of its available access to the internet. It can access e-mails, translations etc.
- Voice assistants can help start your day and keep it going by setting alarms, to-do list, reminders, taking notes, calendars for helping you keep appointments etc.
- Voice assistants also help with locating places for you. You can make inquiries for restaurants, hotels, parks, fun places etc.
- Voice assistants can help with knowing the weather, stocks, finding devices etc.
- Virtual assistants can produce memories from your photos, play music, podcasts etc.
How Do Voice Assistants Work?
The ability of voice assistants to perform well depends on the command you give — the control of home automation devices like dimming the lights and increasing the music.
You can ask any amount of questions. They are always ready to help, easy to operate and deliver the best.
For instance, here is a list of tasks Apple’s Siri can help a user with:
- Hey Siri, tell James that ‘I can’t make it this afternoon.’
- Hey Siri, call Andrew
- Hey Siri, tell James ‘I’ll be right there.’
- Hey Siri, set up a meeting at 10
- Hey Siri, what is ‘I love you’ in Spanish?
- Hey Siri, give me directions back home
- Hey Siri, where can I get the best seafood in town?
- Hey Siri, what’s showing at the cinema today?
- Hey Siri, when’s the pilot episode for the game of thrones?
- Hey Siri, play J. Cole
- Hey Siri, what’s the weather like today? Is it safe to go outside?
- Hey Siri, note that I have to save for my rent next month
- Hey Siri, turn on aeroplane mode
- Hey Siri, where is my iPhone?
- Hey Siri, start running with Runtastic
- Hey Siri, download the weekly football podcasts
- Hey Siri, what’s the definition of bamboozling?
- Hey Siri, why don’t I have any friends?
- Hey Siri, what’s the population of Africa?
- Hey Siri, remind me to call mom
- Hey Siri, do I have any missed call?
- Hey Siri, teach me how to write an article.
- Hey Siri, read out my schedule for today, please.
- Hey Siri, is it advisable to sleep after a morning jog?
- Hey Siri, where’s the closest supermarket?
What Is the Future for Voice Assistants?
Some economic implications have been predicted concerning the market of speech technology. In the next five years – 2024 – the voice technology market will grow by 34.9% globally.
The numeral interpretation has been drawn out as 7.5 billion users. This posits that the rapid rate at which voice technology is growing is fascinating.
At the moment, Google Assistant is leading the market with 24.3%. Meanwhile, Samsung’s Bixby or Viv is following with 14.5%.
Apple’s Siri is closely accompanied by 13.1%, while Amazon’s Alexa – also known as Echo – is 3.9%.
With Microsoft’s Cortana at 2.3%, the list of developers and voice assistants is endless. It’s a delight to say artificial intelligent voice assistants are here to stay.
How Effective are the Voice Assistants and How Will It Be in The Future?
Why do people enjoy utilising this speech technology so much that they can’t stop? Voice assistants know a lot about their users and want to serve them better.
Adobe analytics reported that over 76% of smartphones owners just last year, increased their usage of Voice Assistants. Many homes are adapting their settings to a more technology inclined one.
Some voice assistants can already differentiate between voices. Others can even distinguish their owner’s voice from other surfacing voices.
Voice assistants present ease of accessibility for particular customers.
Customers with impairment such as visual impairment and mobility impairment, have lots of advantages. As it reduces stress for them, and make things easier.
Also, utilising the voice assistant helps save a lot of time for many people. It makes looking for answers to questions asked, very fast.
It is useful with parents, teachers, students and anyone who wants to get enlightened.
The advantages presented by voice assistants are a lot.
Have There Been Any Security Concerns So Far?
Everything that has an advantage has a disadvantage. Some associated risks have been found prevalent with the use of digital assistants.
However, speculations have been made about how to make voice assistants safer for use by consumers.
The major one is, ‘prevention of voice fraud.’ This can otherwise be termed under the umbrella of impersonation.
Other people who are close to you, might try to sound like you. If your voice assistant is unable to detect that, then you might be a victim.
Not just any kind of victim – a victim of cyber theft. Items can be ordered online using your Apple pay for instance, without your consent.
Another security concern is, ‘picking up other voices.’ Your voice assistance may not be selective with voices yet.
This presents the problem of picking up unknown voices, as long as it’s within reach. Someone in your space might request an alarm to be set, calendars, etc.
Moreover, commands to dial phone numbers, open websites or transfer money are major security concerns. ‘Unintentional actions’ can be used as the general term to describe these concerns.
Any user can be affected by unintentional actions at home, at work, or just anywhere. The user might be in a conversation with someone, while the assistant takes notes.
It is now due to this note-taking that the assistant thinks of as a command. For example, I tell someone I will transfer money to them and command Alexa to note the details.
Well, Alexa does; but also goes ahead to undertake the honor of sending. These are little problems faced – by especially those who don’t lock their phones.
What Could Further Present Security Concerns?
There are many other factors which could further present security concerns to the users. Some of them are;
Ineffective voice training features, weak identity formation, and voice hacking.
It will continue to be an issue if the voice assistants cannot distinguish between voices. It should be able to master the owner’s voice through and through.
The identity of users should be personalized and kept private. There should be inbuilt security measures to protect users from unwanted threats.
Generally, online applications are targets for cybersecurity threats. If adequate calculated steps aren’t taken to avoid it, then the users are exposed to risks.
As mentioned earlier, privacy is an important factor when considering voice assistants. Passwords set up should be kept as private as possible.
A password that is easy to guess is not recommended for use. In this case, it will be hard for a voice hacker to proceed, even if they know you personally.
Users want to keep trusting the system. They have no problem as long as they’re satisfied.
Are Voice Assistants Safe to Keep Using?
Many users of this generation are already becoming too dependent on voice assistants.
Parents nowadays may tend to see their voice assistants as co-parents. They ask for advice, consult them for kids’ assignment, cooking, etc.
Solving assignments with your kid equals bonding time. Siri won’t give you that pat on the back for getting an answer right.
Also, for school students who especially cover the age bracket of youths, dependability is extreme. They depend on Siri for their assignments, creative projects, and general school work.
Using voice assistants for school work is not bad, but when misused, it is. Students may use it for cheating on tests and examinations.
Moreover, individuals have turned their voice assistants to their ‘friends’ or ‘companions.’ Some have become obsessed with let’s say, ‘Alexa’ or ‘Cortana.’
These individuals who get obsessed are lonely people who have turned their real friends away. So, they prefer to vibe with their artificial intelligent software agent.
They may engage in that because they know Alexa, Siri or Cortana can’t pose any real threats to them; neither can they break their hearts or hurt their feelings.
They need to seek help instead of relying on their voice assistants for disillusioned comfort. Voice assistants do not give hugs!
Can anything ever be safe though? Remember the security issues concerning it?
The whole cyber threat situation has become a big deal. But it’s safe to say that voice assistant developers are working hard.
They’re working hard to make using it very safe without worrying. In a few years from now, security shouldn’t pose as an issue anymore.
Safety precautions will be put in place to make users feel secure. They’re working on a voice separation technique which is to be effective in preventing theft.
Therefore, it’ll suffice to say that the voice assistant is helpful. But when we abandon our responsibilities, especially emotional ones, we may tend to misuse it.