Artificial intelligence has truly transformed the way voice assistants are used in our daily lives, and we are only beginning to understand how they will be integrated into all of our activities in the years to come.

Report after report is predicting voice assistants will soar and that means the tools and technologies behind these devices are shaping the internet of skills. We are talking about the next generation of tools to spark growth in retail, logistics, healthcare, smart cities, manufacturing, and autonomous vehicles, among many others.

A recent survey from PWC reveals voice assistants have been used in a host of ways during the past decade and they will continue to mold our very essence. Here’s what some of the numbers are showing:

  • 90% of people recognize voice assistants
  • 72% had used a voice assistant
  • 57% top commends come from a smartphone
  • 27% issue commands to a speaker
  • 20% issue commands for vehicle navigation purposes

What’s more, adoption of voice-assistant technologies is highest among 18-24-year-olds. But the age group that uses voice assistants most frequently is the 25-49-year-old group, with 65% of them being considered “heavy” users that issue voice commands to a device at least once a day.

More importantly, let’s consider what voice assistants are used for today. According to PWC’s survey, the most common tasks people ask of their voice assistants are to search for information on the internet, answering a question, providing weather or the news, playing music, and setting a timer or reminder. In addition, the report shows the slightly less common tasks include sending a text or email and checking traffic. Interestingly, 50% or more of people say they never do include buying or ordering something via their voice assistant and using it to control other smart devices.

As for growth, Juniper Research says there will be 8 billion digital voice assistants in use by 2023. That means the stage is set for something significant. But what does this growth mean for chat bots and more?

The first hurdle, awareness, has been cleared during the past decade of usage.  Now the second hurdle, achieving acceptance and basic use across different demographics, has also been cleared during the same period. The technology has come a long way in a relatively short amount of time too. The next hurdle, though, will have to do with user trust.

There is a lot of work that still needs to be achieved yet. We need to be asking ourselves, why aren’t people using voice assistants to accomplish more complex tasks? The PWC report shows when it comes to more complex tasks and involve people’s hard-earned cash, people prefer to use methods they know and trust. That means voice assistants do not appear on the list just yet. But this isn’t true for everybody. A lot of people in this survey, about 50%, say they have made purchases using a voice assistant. Purchases include food (34%), groceries (31%), books (24%), and transportation (21%).

But about 25% came out saying they wouldn’t even consider using voice assistants to make purchases. The top reason is because folks just don’t trust their voice assistants to correctly interpret and process purchases.

It’s all about stakes. The stakes just aren’t that high when you’re asking your Google Home mini to play a certain playlist on Spotify or to tell you what the temperature is outside.  But if you’re asking Amazon Alexa on your echo to buy you a replacement air filter and ship it to your house, you’re asking it to spend real money.

You’re trusting that AI to understand your request, get the right filter, charge you the right price, and send it to the right house. Even if, in this case, we’re talking less than $50, it’s still a much greater risk. Gaining consumers’ trust is going to be the next big task for voice-assistant tech companies. And shopping is just one example of what people aren’t doing.

Even fewer people, according to PWC’s survey, are using voice assistants to control their smart homes, and this is perhaps the biggest the crux of the problem. In the future, we need to look at what voice assistants will be capable of doing, and it’s going to require user trust. For example, one prediction for voice assistants will be their growing use in healthcare scenarios. Voice assistants have the ability to help in so many opportunities. The real question now is how long will it take before we really trust voice assistants to do our “bidding” for us?

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