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Voice Tech Poised to Become 'Vital Tool'

As touch becomes a dirty word, voice technology is positioned to provide a safer alternative. In a survey by Adobe of a 1,000 voice technology users in the United States, nearly a third (31 percent) said sanitation (such as not needing to touch high-traffic surfaces) was a big benefit of voice technology. Specific applications favored both business and consumer use. Among the business applications for voice were opening doors (mentioned by 56 percent), designating a floor on the elevator (55 percent) or using a vending machine (49 percent). Consumer applications included checking a bank balance (mentioned by 37 percent), updating work tasks and events (34 percent) or setting up a grocery delivery (28 percent).

As Mark Webster, a voice product director at Adobe, wrote in a blog that shared survey results, "Brands striving to engage with consumers in a safe way should consider leveraging voice technology to power contactless interactions and reduce contact with high-traffic surfaces."

Currently, respondents said the most prevalent use of voice tech in their lives included use of apps for directions (52 percent), texting or chat (51 percent) and controlling music (46 percent). While users said that overall voice tech was easy to use, nearly six in 10 (57 percent) said greater accuracy was needed for them to want to use the technology more often or in more diverse ways. Also, 62 percent mentioned that they felt "awkward" using voice when other people were around.

Almost two in five survey participants (39 percent) told the company that they had only begun using voice tech in the past year. However, nearly half (49 percent) predicted that by 2025, voice tech would better meet their needs "as its design continues to develop."

"The COVID-19 pandemic has changed what convenience means, including not having to touch a surface or pull down a mask to unlock your phone," Webster said in an interview with Bradley Metrock, a voice technology expert who publishes "This Week in Voice VIP. "With 86 percent of users noting voice technology could make visiting a business or attending an event feel more sanitary, voice technology could be a vital tool as we consider how to safely reopen our communities."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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