Digital voice assistants

David Kusserow

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With a digital voice assistant, users can control their devices through voice input using software.

Definition

A digital voice assistant is software that allows you to control a device using voice input. A prerequisite for the voice assistant to function is a microphone connected to or integrated with the device.For these voice assistants to function as well as possible, they need to be programmed with information from Big Data. With the amount of data from such resources, such voice assistants resort to artificial intelligence technology.

Digital voice assistants

Such voice assistants are already oftenimplemented on smartphones and tablets. Here they are known as Siri (Apple) or the voice command “Ok Google“. Microsoft has also built such an assistant into its Windows 10 operating system with Cortana. Amazon’s Echo smart speakers have the “Alexa” system built in.

Application areas of digital voice assistants

A digital voice assistant allows users to operate a device without using a keyboard or mouse. Therefore, it is especially interesting for mobile devices that have to do without physical keyboards.

The user’s voice command is recorded via a microphone and processed by the corresponding software. For this, the software must first learn the voice and language of the user. That’s why some voice assistants, like Cortana, broadcast voice commands to their manufacturers. On their systems, the commands can be analyzed, which should allow the voice assistant to better understand the user.

Because such assistants are especially interesting for mobile devices – for example, to be able to control a smartphone while driving a car – they play a major role in mobile search engine optimization (mobile SEO). Accordingly, the special requirements will also play a major role for mobile analytics, as most users formulate their search queries verbally differently than in writing.

When it comes to web searches, Google’s voice assistant has had the edge so far – as it can draw on search results from the world’s market-leading search engine. Also, the Google Voice Search Assistant probably uses a very similar technique to the search engine itself.

Also leading the way in managing search queries using voice assistants is Alexa. There is even already a ranking metric of its own here: the Alexa Ranking.

Google also wants to develop services that work like Google Duplex in the future. For example, an e-commerce provider could offer a fully automated hotline powered by artificial intelligence.

Data protection and digital voice assistants

For a digital voice assistant to actually work, it must constantly “listento the user – otherwise it would not be able to respond to sudden voice input. To avoid this, Windows 10, for example, uses a button to activate Cortana, depending on the user settings.

Smart speakers like the Amazon Echo work differently. These are constantly activated and “listen” to the users, even if they do not want to communicate with the assistant. This has been repeatedly criticised by data protection lawyers.

Also, voice assistants only work when there is an active internet connection. Therefore, it is not completely comprehensible for outsiders whether unintentionally created recordings are forwarded by the assistant. Such incidents have occurred with the Amazon Echo, for example.

Conclusion

Digital voice assistants are already common on many smartphones and tablets. They have also already found their way into many living rooms via smart speakers.

As more and more search queries are made through such voice assistants, websites that want to be reached by typical voice search queries need to rethink their SEO strategy.

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