August 5, 2020
Beth Abel

Voice Experiences - The Missing Link

This article was originally written by Rob Bennett and published on

New consumer technology has provided countless ways for brands to think creatively and become intertwined with our day-to-day lives beyond simply advertising at us.

In a world where we will seemingly be living with a deadly virus for a while yet, there is ever more focus on combining the digital and physical environments.

This has accelerated the use of innovative tech to solve new problems such as using voice, messaging experiences, camera (as an input) search, augmented reality, and sophisticated behavioural profiling like geo-location to provide meaningful experiences.

Voice technology and entertainment

The entertainment sector is one that we see leading this area. They allocate large budgets to emerging technology to remain fresh and connect with new generations of fans who didn’t ‘grow up with’ their content.

They are, more so than any other industry, at constant risk of getting left behind so must embrace technology to reinvent themselves, to remain current, and ultimately to ensure they continue to capture the hearts and minds of their audiences.

The Pokemon franchise is an excellent example having recently been valued at over $92b. It continues to dominate generation after generation of childhood experience and the key to this success has been in adapting to new technology trends, quickly.

The evolution from Anime series to card game to video game to augmented reality app phenomenon is staggering to watch, and they continue to soar with an expected 67m Pokemon Go users expected to be confirmed this year.

Disney, arguably the most established entertainment business in the world, continually innovates in this area. From complex IoT usage in Disneyland to an AR Mickey Mouse app to greet guests, they are always ahead of the curve.

Outside of the theme parks, the Little Golden Books series enhances the parent-child bedtime reading experience by extending the physical book to contextual sounds, interactive moments and even lighting effects when read aloud with your Google nest device in earshot.

The variety of use cases for this sort of experience are fascinating and can provide parental nostalgia while simultaneously creating new ways for children to experience worlds and universes.

Voice Technology and innovation

Voice technology is facilitating some of the more exciting experiences and innovation opportunities. Many disregarded this technology as a fad, but Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri have matured and developed to become key strategic areas of growth for many businesses.

And so they should. Last year, 35% of US households were equipped with at least one smart speaker, with that set to reach 75% by 2025, and voice commerce is expected to be worth more than $80 billion per year by 2023.

It’s a much more natural means of communication and the lack of physical interaction is significant for a number of reasons. Firstly, voice is estimated to be three times faster than typing on mobile so people are able to achieve what they want faster.

Secondly, and more importantly, voice technology enables brands to provide an experience that is significantly more inclusive than those relying on physical interaction. It enables more people to engage with and enjoy the experiences provided- a core tenet of any entertainment business

We’ve been involved in this firsthand with Harry Potter’s Pottermore universe and National Geographic. For the latter, we created a T-Rex chatbot, ‘Tina’, to educate children about dinosaurs.

By collecting actual questions from children and extensive natural language training, we created an experience that engages, entertains and educates. Tina tells all about her appearance, habitat, diet and tonnes more. And for delivery of a polished product, we added a few quirky extras, like picking her favourite movie – Jurassic Park, of course.

Other businesses are waking up to it, too. A survey at a marketing summit in California shows that 43% of companies are currently investing in technology to enable voice marketing, and there’s been some really interesting examples already.

Lego has utilised Amazon’s Alexa technology to enable their customers to control the Mindstorm range with their voice. When I was kid I couldn’t even imagine being able to interact with any of my toys in this way.

The implications of this are really quite incredible because as children become comfortable playing with and interacting with voice, there will be an added expectation for this to feature in all aspects of their lives right the way through to adulthood.

Is voice technology just a fad?

No. We’ve passed the initial ‘fad’ phase for voice and brands now understand that it is not a simple advertising channel, but instead, it’s an opportunity to establish direct connections with consumers and generate constant insight, live.

The secret is to think about what value you can create for the customer. Not what you want to tell them or what you ‘think’ you’re going to make them do.

The potential for voice tech also offers plenty of applications outside of entertainment and selling products, too, such as healthcare. Could voicetech be a means of allowing people that may struggle to navigate handheld devices, to schedule appointments, check symptoms, and remember medication schedules?

Research from VoiceBot shows more than half of people are open to using voice assistants for healthcare in the future. What about other sectors? Social Care? Education? The possibilities feel endless.

It’s clear that voice tech already has plenty to offer and across the board, people are starting to warm to the idea. Whether it’s helping the next generation of children discover Harry Potter, controlling LEGO robots, or improving healthcare systems, this technology is undoubtedly here to stay.

NB: This piece originally appeared on minutehack

Photo credit: Fabian Hurnaus || Pexels

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