I have a vision that voice assistants are evolving so quickly they are going to connect us to more than just hailing a cab or ordering some food. Do you have the same vision? In February I wrote a blog discussing how many of us hate, literally hate, the concept of Big Brother hovering over our lives and listening to our every word.

Oh, how times have changed in a half a year. Now we have become a society that talks less about who’s listening and instead about how fast we can order something with our voice and using voice assistants.

Now don’t get me wrong, I still think many of us still consider security as something that will always be an issue, just ask Twitter’s Jack Dorsey who’s trying to figure out who hacked the **it out of his platform and all the famous people who tweet on it.

And for many of us, however, security will become less and less a concern with voice assistants, but it’s really a matter of their evolution and what needs to happen for them to reach their full potential. So, the real question now is how are we seeing them enhance our lives?

In doing my research, I noticed a whitepaper that Amazon sent in my inbox, entitled, “Doing Business in a Connected World.” Interestingly, the numbers say 44% of respondents plan to use voice services in some phase of their shopping process within the next three years. One of the areas of Amazon’s research that I found very compelling is in learning and how people will eventually expect voice assistants to help them throughout their whole shopping process.

For instance, in the next three years:

  • 43% of respondents plan to use voice during the discovery/awareness phase while they’re searching for products to buy.
  • 42% plan to use voice during the research and evaluation phase to compare prices.
  • 36% plan to use voice to add items to a shopping cart, and
  • 30% say they’ll be comfortable using a voice assistant to purchase a product.

But the journey doesn’t end with a purchase, does it? Post-purchase:

  • 43% of respondents in this survey anticipate using voice assistant technology to help them check their items’ delivery status.

The top reason people are adopting or plan to adopt voice assistant technology is because it is just plain easy.

The second reason is because it’s fast. Okay, fast and easy.

Based on Amazon’s whitepaper, I was compelled to check on the projections of the industry’s analysts because they are never wrong when they forecast long-term projections, right? So here is what they have to say about voice-assistant trends? Juniper Research predicts there will be 8 billion digital voice assistants in use by 2023 and ResearchandMarkets estimates the global voice-assistant market will top $5.4 billion by 2024.

Keeping all these projections in mind and as result of all this growth, it’s no wonder that other tasks and industries are likely to benefit by an increase in voice-assistant adoption.

In fact, according to Amazon’s survey, some of these other tasks that people are going to use voice assistants for will include: paying bills, banking, sending and receiving money from individuals, and donating to charity.

Here’s another fact. Did you know that about half of U.S. adults have used a voice assistant in a car? Well, that fact is according to voicebot.ai’s latest research on voice-assistant consumer adoption. Based on voicebot.ai research, during the past couple of years, cars are actually the top use case of voice-assistant technology, and ironically, it is not smart speakers.

If you really think about it, voice recognition technology in cars has been nothing short of revolutionary. In fact, when smartphone adoption was really starting to explode in the U.S., we were all really concerned about how these devices would be used in vehicles.

I was a huge advocate of putting your phone away, and I still am, but now there are so many technologies that can make important apps like navigation and music accessible to drivers without putting people in danger—like voice recognition and voice assistants.

voicebot.ai is saying that voice assistants have created a whole new set of consumer expectations about the driving experience, and I personally agree.

If we consider what’s ahead, and what’s to come in the future—especially self-driving cars—we can tease these scenarios out even more. Think of all the tasks voice assistants can help people accomplish when they’re not responsible for driving. But let’s really consider though, what’s even beyond this.

The private car ownership model is going to change. We are already witnessing the change occurring little by little today. The transportation paradigm is shifting toward more shared models, as we’ve been talking about this month, mostly as part of the transportation infrastructure conversation. Thus, I anticipate that voice will definitely find its place as part of this new paradigm.

One example of this already in action is the integration of Google Assistant with FlixBus. (I just briefly touched on it on my radio show: The Peggy Smedley Show), but let me go into more detail here. FlixBus is a German startup mobility provider that is out to digitalize the public transit space and buses in particular.

The FlixBus fleet offers live tracking, an automated delay-management system, smart network planning, and dynamic pricing. The company boasts more than 100 million people have traveled with it, of which 40 million in 2017 alone. I want to ask these three founders what made that year so special. Perhaps I will get one of them on my show in the near future.

What’s also interesting is the founders’ background. One founder rode his bike to work and didn’t drive, which was somewhat the inspiration for the company. The other was an avid skier and organized bus trips, and the final member of the trio, of course, spent years at Microsoft.

It’s really not hard to understand why this threesome put their expertise together making their company a global success.

Today the Google Assistant integration means people can use voice to access information about FlixBus connections, timetables, and pricing. They can also get answers to other frequently asked questions, like “how many bags can I bring onboard” with just their voice.

Alongside of new shared mobility options and autonomous vehicles, there is no question that voice assistant technology is also going to help increase accessibility for those who can’t or don’t drive cars.

For instance, think about mentally and physically challenged individuals, as well as young people under 16, older adults who no longer feel safe behind the wheel, and people like me, who aren’t particularly young or old but who don’t drive anyway.

New mobility options like autonomous taxis and shuttles that help people with the crucial last leg of their journeys will be significant.

Voice assistants built into bus stops and public transit stations will help individuals of all abilities access the same critical information when they need it most.

Voice assistants in e-commerce and in vehicles are truly picking up steam. This is how it all begins in a very long journey. People still don’t fully trust voice assistants to do many tasks for them right now, but rest assured times will change and they will change, as we use them, and the more we understand what they can do.

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