How Voice Assistants Evolved to Assist You

In order to understand voice assistants, you should understand the roots of this innovation. IBM was the first to introduce a digital speech recognition tool known as IBM Shoebox. It was able to recognize 16 words. Slightly over a decade later, Carnegie Mellon followed up with Harpy Program that could understand approximately 1,000 words. A few companies including Dragonand Microsoft came out with similar developments throughout the ’90s, but it wasn’t until Apple’s release of Siri in 2011 that broke the ice for what voice assistants should be.

When Siri came out, she was able to understand the words spoken to her, crack jokes, and make elementary executions. Siri was given a female voice that has her come off as reliable and efficient, which shape her “personality” instead of leaving the user with a monotonous robot. The next breakthrough in voice assistance, also female, was Amazon’s Alexa. This was a phenomenal development because it wasn’t a phone feature. A speaker with sensitive microphones built in was activated by simply saying the keyword “Alexa” and would instantly connect users to the Alexa voice-controlled platform. Thanks to the revolutionizing voice assistant technology, people can make requests once unimaginable with voice assistants such as adjusting the lights or temperature in their homes.

Unsurprisingly, the market for these kinds of tech innovations was directed at the younger and tech-savvy generation. However, companies like Soundmind saw the potential of guiding this powerful tool into the hands of older adults.

Not having grown up around these advancements already places a challenge for older adults to keep up with smaller, lighter, and faster devices. Even if you become accustomed to using devices, it progresses to be a growing difficulty as the years accumulate. It is a known fact that as people age, health problems are more likely to surface, such as arthritis and declining vision. Hence, fingers don’t move as fluidly when texting and people’s eyes become more sensitive to bright screen lights. Older adults’ technological needs are changing.

New tech companies are becoming more interested in catering to the elderly’s needs. Thus, voice assistants have been a source of increasing interest. It can make calls, play music and games, and surf the Web without ever having to lift a finger. This kind of assistant is becoming more of an essential tool as we age. It’s very easy to use and requires little of us to use it. All we need is to talk.

We are getting older and will want to consider integrating voice assistants into our lives at some point. There is certainly a lot of room for development in this relatively new technology.

Currently, these advancements are used to help senior living homes better understand their resident’s needs. With enough elderly users, data could be collected on what they really want, like kind of music and pastimes they are interested in. It would help senior communities plan relevant events that their residents would be enthusiastic to participate in.

A lot of people see these facilities as a last resort for older adults once they can no longer safely live alone. However, by providing fun activities to be involved in, senior homes could be seen in a different way: they can be a resource for an engaging, social way of life.

With a strong interest in this incredible technology, voice assistants will continue to advance and perhaps perform tasks unimaginable at this point in time. It’s perfectly plausible that the hardware of these platforms could one day have built-in sensors where they can scan the room for irregularities, such as someone falling down, and know to call emergency responders. Voice assistants might evolve into a more conversational AI that can detect and analyze different tones of voice and perhaps respond accordingly. This a growing sector in technology and understanding how it came to what it is now might hint as to where it’s heading.