The need for natural, conversational interaction between humans and their devices is increasing as people rely on them for more daily tasks. ABI Research predicts that consumers who engage with voice functionality on a monthly basis will grow to more than one billion by 2021, an 80% compound annual growth rate.
“Smartphones are usually the first devices people think of in relation to voice input and recognition,” says Eric Abbruzzese, Senior Analyst at ABI Research. “But growth in smart glasses and smart home devices will fuel this trend going forward.”
Within enterprises, ABI Research predicts that natural language processing will prove particularly beneficial in use cases and verticals that demand hands-free functionality, such as in healthcare, oil and gas, factory floors, and construction. Enterprise voice adoption often requires customized dictionaries, applications, and tools. While the major players in voice recognition allow some APIs to extend into these domains, specialists such as Nuance Communications are developing industry-specific voice packages.
Consumer-wise, voice control and conversational interaction is a natural fit for both smart glasses and AR devices, as their primary purpose is to offer hands-free, efficient data display and interaction. Smart home devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home will drive consumer use cases, with growth in AI-powered personal assistants enabling natural and rewarding interaction.
Apple, Google, and Microsoft are the main players on the map, and for good reason—each company is pushing their voice platforms heavily, most recently with Google’s Home voice-powered smart home device. However, it is Amazon that is on ABI Research’s radar. With involvement in automotive through their voice technology, and rapid movement in sales of its voice-supported Echo and Fire devices, Amazon has the potential to see great growth if it capitalizes on its current momentum.
“Conversational interaction is receiving investment as the next frontier for consumer control, beyond search and social,” concludes Sam Rosen, Managing Director and Vice President at ABI Research. “Development of artificial intelligence and transactional commerce will enable conversations such as ordering a pizza or using a virtual travel agent. We expect this to drive the next wave of digital monetization of the service world.”