Daily Archives: February 20, 2024

What is Voice UI?

Although we usually talk to other humans, our interactions with non-animated objects are almost always silent. That is, until the advent of the Voice User Interface or Voice UI or VUI technology. Now, Voice UI has broken this silent interaction between humans and machines. Today, we have virtual assistants and voice-controlled devices like Siri, Google Assistant, Hound, Alexa, and many more. Most people who own a voice-controlled device say it is like talking to another person.

So, what is Voice UI? The Voice UI technology has made it possible for humans to interact with a device or an application through voice commands. As we are increasingly using digital devices, screen fatigue is something we have all experienced often. This has led to the development of a voice user interface. The advantages are numerous—primarily, hands-free operation and control over the device or application without having to stare at a screen. Leading five companies of the world, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Facebook, have developed their respective voice-activated AI assistants and voice-controlled devices.

Whether it is a voice-enabled mobile app, an AI assistant, or a voice-controlled device like a smart speaker, voice interactions and interfaces have become incredibly common. For instance, according to a report, 25% of adults in the US own a smart speaker, and 33% of the US population use their voice for searching online.

How does this technology work? Well, under the hood, there are several Artificial Intelligence technologies at work, such as Automatic Speech Recognition, Name Entity Recognition, and Speech Synthesis. The VUI speech components and the backend infrastructure are backed by AI technologies and typically reside in a public or private cloud. It is here that the VUI processes the speech and voice of the user. After deciphering and translating the user’s intent, the AI technology returns a response to the device.

The above is the basics of the Voice UI technology, albeit in a nutshell. For a better user experience, most companies also include additional sound effects and a graphical user interface. The sound effects and visuals assist the user in knowing whether the device is listening to them, or processing before responding and responding.

Today Voice UI technology is widespread, and it is available in many day-to-day devices like Smartphones, Desktop Computers, Laptops, Wearables, Smartwatches, Smart TVs, Sound Systems, Smart Speakers, and the Internet of Things. However, everything has advantages and disadvantages.

First, the advantages. VUI is faster than having to type the commands in text, and more convenient. Not many are comfortable typing commands, but almost all can use their voice to request a task from the VUI device. Voice commands, being hands-free, are useful while cooking or driving. Moreover, you do not need to face or look at the device to send voice commands.

Next, the disadvantages. There are privacy concerns, as a neighboring person can overhear your commands. AI technology is still in its infancy, and is prone to misinterpretation or being inaccurate, especially when differentiating homonyms like ‘their’ and ‘there’. Moreover, voice assistants may find it difficult to decipher commands in noisy public places.