Is Voice UI the next killer app?

Amazon’s Alexa is a hit. The wonderful innovation can perform many tricks by listening to your voice commands. She has a voice capture and recognition system that is available on Echo and the Dot. Amazon is also providing AVS (Alexa Voice Service) that allows a 3rd party device to capture audio and send that to Alexa Service for processing. This will unleash innovation in the device ecosystem and we will see many cool voice enabled devices emerge.

Recently, I had an opportunity to attend a presentation by the Alexa team. It looks like Amazon is working hard to create a rich ecosystem around Alexa and this includes a Fund that invests in startups with innovative technologies around voice. This seems more Microsoft DNA, but there are now lots of former Microsoft people in Amazon. 🙂

I was stuck by use of the phrase “ambient computing” by the presenter. Later , as I walked back into the Link train Station, I wondered that a voice experience is a game changer for visually challenged people. A person can blurt a question to an ambient Alexa enabled device and get an instant answer. How that will work in a crowded, noisy environment is an interface and design challenge.

Will voice UI become ubiquitous at work? Too much of our daily work is still driven by mouse and keyboard and touch. It’s easy to imagine Alexa built in to every conference room like a projector is today. One could assume that Alexa enabled devices would access internal corporate systems to answer questions. “Alexa, how many bugs were opened today”? “Alexa, What was our Sales in May?”. It could also be a great companion device for product support people. The scenarios are rich. The natural use of voice is tremendously appealing.

The presenter said that we are in the “crawl” phase of Voice UI. However, it’s already exciting. Seems like 1995, when we started seeing the potential of web browsers.