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How is the Power of Voice Transforming our Relationship with Technology?

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Voice-enabled technology has rapidly evolved from a novel concept to one that now plays a central role in our day-to-day lives. According to a recent report from Google, 72% of people who own voice-activated speakers say their devices are used as a part of their daily routines. But it wasn’t too long ago that using voice commands to turn on the lights in your house or finding a recipe for roasted chicken seemed more like sci-fi than reality.

Companies had been experimenting with voice control technology since the 50s, but up until the early 2000’s, accuracy rates topped out at 80%, and progress seemed to be slowing down. That is, until Google launched voice search capabilities for its iPhone app, which allowed users to perform internet searches by simply dictating their questions. When Apple announced Siri two years later, the company ushered in the age of the digital assistant as we know it today.

After Siri and the Google Assistant came Microsoft’s Cortana and Amazon’s Alexa, quickly solidifying the four tech giants as leaders in the space. The industry shows no signs of slowing down, with market researchers expecting the global speech and voice recognition market to reach $22.3 billion by 2024.

Voice-enabled technology continues to take the tech world by storm, and HARMAN is dedicated to partnering with the world’s leading technology companies to deliver voice-enabled audio solutions for the home, in the car, at the office, or on the go.

Knowing that music streaming is one of the most popular uses of digital assistants, HARMAN offers consumers a premium line-up of devices that are compatible with their preferred AI platform, including the Harman Kardon Citation product family with Google Assistant, the Harman Kardon Allure with Amazon Alexa, and the Harman Kardon Invoke with Microsoft’s Cortana, as well as the JBL LINK series and the JBL Everest GA headphones, both with Google Assistant.

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The benefits of voice assistant technology are also being realized outside the home, in the hospitality and transportation industries.  Earlier this year, HARMAN partnered with MSC cruises to introduce a cutting-edge virtual personal assistant as part of the cruise line’s digital innovation program, and the world’s leading automakers are also introducing virtual personal assistants in their vehicle’s infotainment systems to allow passengers to control standard in-car features by voice. HARMAN and Samsung’s own Digital Cockpit platform allows drivers and passengers to seamlessly integrate a vehicle’s instrument cluster and center console via voice.

When considered holistically, these integrations represent concrete, tangible steps toward a more connected world, and a more connected life for each of us – whether we’re at home, the office, on vacation, or on the go.

Furthermore, as the demand for in-vehicle digital assistants grows, automakers continue to provide several options for drivers to experience in-car voice-enabled technologies. Automakers are partnering with established third-parties to add digital assistants to the vehicle’s user-interface, developing their own custom-built voice assistant systems, and even offering plug-and-play solutions that are ideal for adapting an older, less-connected modes to a driver’s connected lifestyle.

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There’s no denying that digital assistants and voice-controlled speakers are revolutionizing the way we live, and enabling a better quality of life for users. At home, users can already use their voice to order groceries, make phone calls, adjust the thermostat, and more. Businesses are using voice technology to verify customer’s information, assist employees, and schedule appointments. As it becomes easier for users to accomplish any and every task hands-free – and even screen-free – consumers will begin to rely more heavily on their connected devices. In a recent survey, HARMAN found that 70% of respondents expect to use their voice-controlled speakers more frequently over the next year. As our world continues to become more connected, these new AI-empowered devices will fill an integral role within the connected ecosystem.

At HARMAN, we believe that voice control is a cornerstone of a seamless and intuitive connected lifestyle. Voice-enabled speakers have brought digital assistants into our homes and offices, and the integration of these assistants to other devices will allow users to further expand their connected worlds. Most of today’s voice assistants are limited to basic functions, such as playing music, performing a quick search, or sending short emails or texts. While their main function now is to respond to commands and remember predetermined settings, in the future the technology may evolve beyond perceiving preferences and tastes to respond to human emotion. In other words, voice-activated devices may be able to anticipate your needs, even before you do.

There’s no doubt that smart assistant services are a key component for intelligent products integrated into the Internet of Things, and we are exploring these innovations with world-class partners across all our divisions including Lifestyle Audio, Professional Solutions, Connected Car and Connected Services.