Have You Ever Tried Voice Search?

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Using voice to search online is growing more prominent, as more people, especially the younger ones, are using the technology. Google started the search feature in 2002, and it is available in different languages.

The adoption of the search feature is spreading quickly. This may be due to three things. First, it is easier to speak than to type. An average person can type around 40 words a minute, but they can say close to 150 words in 60 seconds. When a person leads a hectic lifestyle, they need to do things faster. Second, users can ask the search engine questions instead of typing a short text search word or phrase. Third, voice search is typically done for local searches.    

Defining voice search

Voice search is an interactive technology that allows a user to use a voice command to search an app, a website or the internet. The user searches for information by verbally providing a query to a computer, a smart device, or a smartphone.

With many smart devices having voice input, it is easier to make a query through voice command instead of typing.

A user can easily activate the voice input feature on the device by either clicking on the voice command icon, calling out the virtual assistant’s name or clicking on a gesture or home button on a device’s interface.

How does the technology work?

Voice search is a combination of search engine keyword queries and speech recognition technology. The program assimilates the speech it hears, performs a search through one or more search engines, and gives the user the pertinent answers.

Voice search is different from voice assistants such as Cortana (Microsoft), Siri (Apple), Google Assistant, Bixby (Samsung), Watson (IBM), and Alexa (Amazon). However, voice search helps in the further development of voice assistants.

Voice Search
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Driving usage and sales 

With the ease of using voice search, its popularity increases, with millions using the technology. This year, the projection is that about half of all online searches will be using voice search due to the availability of smartphones and smart speakers, such as the Amazon Echo series and Google Home.

It is projected that more than half of the households in the United States will have a smart speaker by 2022. Further, about 20% of the queries through mobile devices use voice search. The majority (about 72%) of people who use voice search say that they use the technology daily, and about 43% of the owners of smart speakers use it for their online shopping.

Sales of smart speakers are rising, as well. In 2019, 146.9 million smart speakers were sold worldwide. Google and Amazon are leading in the smart speaker market, although Chinese vendors such as Xiaomi, Alibaba and Baidu are now getting a slice of the market.

Despite record sales, smart speakers have security and privacy issues. Owners are still concerned about the microphones “always listening.” Although the device makers claim that the speakers would only listen or record when someone uses the wake-up phrase or word, studies have shown that they are always listening.

According to the study done by Max Planck Institute for Security and Privacy and Ruhr University, the voice assistants wake up from various words that sound very close to the wake-up word or wake up phrase programmed to activate them.

The programmed wake-up calls of voice assistants are as follows:

Hey, Siri (Apple)

OK, Google (Google)

Hey, Alexa (Amazon)

Hey, Cortana (Microsoft)

In the research results, the Google Assistant wakes up when it hears, “OK, cool.” The word “Montana” can wake up Cortana. Siri wakes up after hearing “seriously,” Echo responds to “tobacco,” and Alexa wakes up after hearing “unacceptable.”

One of the researchers qualified that this issue occurs because the devices are programmed to understand human language and their speech pattern, which result in the deviation.

The technology will continue to push forward because it is beneficial to people who are driving. It speeds up the process of searching, and searchers receive answers to their questions faster. Businesses that optimized their websites for text searches will now have to get ready for voice search optimization.