Voice Computing Puts the Words Back in Your Mouth

Guest post by Tim Hayden, co-founder and CMO of 44Doors, a mobile SaaS and consulting firm based in Austin, Texas.

As tens of thousands of technophiles rolled into Austin last week, many of them pondered the possibilities of voice search and interactive voice response. The week prior in New York, I had a number of Inbound Marketing Summit attendees awarding a victory to Apple, telling me that SIRI obviously is the clear winner by putting such technology into iPhone 4S users’ hands in late 2011 (and now the iPad, in version 3). If playing with your phone to gain answers to questions such as, “where do we bury the bodies?” and “which restaurant is best for a Catholic on Fridays during Lent?” means game-over, then maybe they have a point.

Truth be known, there is something much more transformational happening with smartphone proliferation than a quirky mobile search and voice-to-text functionality. At large, we are moving away from traditional computing and typing, and we are regaining our voice.

Can You Hear Me Now?

Our push-button lives on touchscreen devices have us typing less already. We can navigate our way through directional information and answers in our favorite mobile apps, and through a simple Bluetooth connection we can dial a number and send a text just by “talking to” our cars. Just think about the other 50% of Americans who will purchase their first smartphone over the next two years, who will be liberated to leave their desks and enjoy a day on-the-go in physical meetings and doing as they wish with spare time gained beyond the office.

The evidence is all around us that voice and face-to-face communication are the natural, preferred ways for us to communicate. I can all but guarantee that this shift back to a more “human” way of communication will surely disrupt social media and everything we know today about marketing…faster than we can plan around it.

5 Trends in Voice Computing

Here are five developing trends in technology that will shape the next leap in real human communication:

  1. Face-to-face mobile conversations: while Apple’s FaceTime may have been the torchbearer, you will be hard-pressed to find a smartphone without a camera on each side to ensure you don’t blink when telling your wife you are working late.
  2. Web Meetings: whether you’ve hung out on Google+ or used your webcam to pitch a client with GoToMeeting, it has never been easier to switch a simple chat to a “look me in the eyes” conversation.
  3. “In-Person” Experiences: whether it is a full wall or a large format monitor, Cisco TelePresence is changing the way remote board meetings, court depositions and daily huddles are being hosted, many times thousands of miles separating attendees.
  4. The rise of the “undevice”: if you thought Microsoft Xbox 360 was all about games, fitness and Netflix, just wait until you are running Windows 8 on that same console with Kinect, and only your voice and your gestures can dial up Grandma and share videos of the family dog without holding a handset, remote or keyboard (Remember that Microsoft shell out ~$9B USD for Skype, the first to master video over IP?).
  5. Future-tense social media: What began as predictive analytics to help advertisers intercept your next Facebook check-in has now become a new form of accountability between friends to be where they state they will be at the time they said they’d be there. The active practice of proving you’re good on your word with apps such as Forecast actually encourages physical exchanges and experiences. After all, isn’t that what make social media truly social?

The first typewriter landed on a desk in the late 1800s, and we have been upright and walking for more than 4,000,000 years. Our “evolution” to stop typing, and dare I predict we almost stop text conversations entirely, should come as no surprise to any of us over the next decade.

What have you noticed recently that shows you are regaining your voice?

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