April 12, 2017

Look who’s talking: chatbots and voice interfaces

The way that we interact with technology is changing, the button has now become a keyword or phrase that prompts a reaction. We are seeing a steady rise of chatbots and voice interfaces and we decided to take a look!

Conversational interfaces

It's not going unnoticed: we are using our voice and text-based messages more and more to control the things around us. Tech giants like Amazon, Facebook, Google and Tencent (the Chinese company behind WeChat) have embraced the conversational interface. And it's here to stay thanks to rapid improvements with regards to artificial intelligence and speech recognition. Gartner predicts that 30% of our interactions with technology will be through conversations with smart machines by 2018.

"Voice and text messages are a great additional means of interaction"

It's catching fast

Conversational interfaces are not merely a dream or hype. It's huge and plays a big role in the smartphone market already. According to The Economist, Apple's Siri handles 2 billion commands a week, and 20% of Google searches on Android devices in America are input by voice. Then there's Alexa, Amazon's personal assistant. You can ask her about recipes, to stream music or to order products for you online. In a similar fashion, you can learn about the weather or order your favourite pizza via chatbots on Facebook's Messenger platform.

Using Facebook Messenger to order pizza (left) and WeChat to pay in restaurants.

Beyond touch interfaces

It's simply convenient and natural to say or type what you need. This does not mean that conversational interfaces will fully replace the graphical user interfaces we see today. For certain tasks, such as browsing pictures or searching for a room to rent, you still want to be able to view something. However, voice and text messages are a great additional means of interaction. You can use this not only to engage with your audience, but also to drive transactions with your customers. This is what we refer to as conversational commerce.

Unlocking the potential

We only need to look at WeChat and the role it plays in the Chinese society to understand the power of the conversational interface. This multi-purpose mobile app is immensely popular and has become the go-to touchpoint for chatting, to pay in restaurants and to hail a taxi in China. And therefore, we here at VanBerlo are tinkering with interaction through voice and text messages. Let's get in touch and unlock the potential of conversational interfaces together!

We also got to play around with this new technology during our VanBerlo hackathon. You can read more about it here!

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