Voice assistant: fad or revolution

Voice Assistant : Fad or Revolution?


In a previous article, we discussed the impressive development of the voice assistant market.

Arrived in France a little over a year ago (with the exception of Siri), assistants are gradually making their way into our daily lives with 3.2 million users of connected speakers. (i.e. 4.7% of the French population equipped). Here, we are only talking about voicebot users on the speaker support, but this technology is found on other supports. 

Voice assistants appeared in 2011 with Siri (Apple), but it is in 2015 with the official launch of Amazon Echo in the USA that the market crossed a new stage. In fact, this market has already boomed in the United States where 48% of the population uses voice assistants (including 70% of daily users).

There is even a talk about faster market penetration for voicebots than for smartphones.


But behind this rapid evolution, is it a fad due to the communication of GAFA or a real technological revolution?



1 – A Simplified Human-Machine Interaction

We could believe in a trend effect linked to this new object that is the connected speaker. However, it is not so much the speaker that explains this enthusiasm but rather the technology it embeds.

In fact, voice assistants are not limited to the only support of the connected speaker. It is above all in the promising technology that is hidden in these speakers that lies all the appeal : Google Assistant for the Google Home speaker, Amazon Alexa for the Echo speaker, or Siri for the Homepod speaker. Also, other companies mastering this technology are positioning themselves in the sector without necessarily developing a speaker (example: SoundHound). In fact, voice assistants are not limited to the only support of the connected speaker.

It is also found on other media, such as smartphones, and increasingly in cars (and GPS), TV boxes, and even Bluetooth headsets / helmets.


The Combination of Several Technologies

To be more precise, it is about several joined technologies that offer a revolution in human-machine interaction.


  • Speech recognition transcribes the user’s speech into text.  
  • Then, the NLP technology will allow the machine to interpret this text.
  • Depending on the interpreted text, a response will be provided by the interface which will use speech synthesis to generate an audio response.
  • Machine learning allows the voice assistant to improve its responses in the course of its interactions.

The voice assistant interprets the user’s natural language and provides an appropriate response.

This technological combination, made possible by the technical progress of the last few years, makes it possible to simply control a device or an application via voice. 


Simpler and More Efficient Use

In this way, the use is much more intuitive and accessible. This makes interaction possible for the young or the elderly, who have difficulties with a keyboard (or a touch screen).

Also, since we can express ourselves 4 times faster with our voice than with a keyboard, this technology provides an answer to the problem of saving time. In fact, we are talking about 53 words per minute for a keyboard against 161 words per minute with the voice !


Comparatif entre l’interaction clavier et vocale


There is therefore a real technological added value that will gradually attract French households (and even the most reluctant ones !).  Indeed, what could be better than controlling your television by voice rather than with the remote control (placed at the other end of the living room) ? What could be safer than controlling your GPS and radio without taking your eyes off the road ?


This technological innovation is not new ! Indeed, we all know Siri from Apple, even though it was released in 2011 !

Besides the spectacular advances in NLP and the advanced use of deep learning (allowing more and more adapted answers), we can explain this recent success by another reason: the developing ecosystem !



2 – An Eco-System Open to Brands


The Development of Voicebot Blinds

While Siri was previously closed to only iPhone applications, new industry players have opened their voice assistants to other independent applications.

Just like the Play Store or App Store with mobile apps, Google and Amazon allow brands to develop voice applications that are later available on their voice assistant. 

Un véritable écosystème de voicebot se développe sur google assistant


Moreover, they encourage developers to publish voice applications: by providing very detailed documentation and advice and by offering rewards for those who publish applications on their store.

In addition, many SaaS services have been created, allowing to develop voice applications easily, without needing to know how to code. We could mention : Smartly.ai , Dialogflow , Storyflow or even VoiceApps.

GAFA’s objective is then to create a real ecosystem around these voice assistants. Their main interest is to integrate third-party services to offer a complete experience and provide solutions to all user requests.


An Opportunity for the Brands

As for brands, it is in their interest to establish a position on this medium. For some, it is a new sales channel: we are talking about v-commerce as the 4th sales channel, with 31% of voice assistant users who have added a product to their cart from this medium.

For others, it is a new way of interacting with their customers, offering more intuitive and engaging experiences for the consumer.

As a result, the ecosystem of voice applications is growing rapidly and reinforcing the hype around this technology. The number of voice applications is growing at a rapid pace, and there is talk of 5 billion voice assistants being sold by 2021.



In conclusion

As you can see, this is a true revolution in the same way that mobile applications and smartphones were a few years ago. Beyond the trendy side of the connected speaker, there is a real technological added value and a powerful ecosystem that will continue to innovate and boost the market. 

Finally, behind this market lies an opportunity for companies to reach their customers in a different way. In particular, by immersing them in totally interactive and intuitive purchasing experiences.

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