Will people use conversational interfaces? That’s the biggest question. Most people feel strange walking around the streets and talking with their voice assistants. A recent survey has shown that high 98% have at least tried Siri, but only 3% of them have used it in public. The reason why they haven’t used it in public is that they felt uncomfortable talking to their device in public. But when they are not surrounded by other people, like when they are in a car or at home, people use the voice assistants. Big sixty-two percent of iPhone owners use Siri in the car, probably because they are less distracted by the phone and because of the hands-free driving laws.
Usage at home also makes sense, since we are usually more comfortable at home (and more lazy). With the rise of the smart home and the Internet of Things, Conversational Interfaces are needed more than ever. For example, if the light switch is far away from the bed, who wouldn’t just say “turn off the light”, instead of getting up and doing this by themselves.
Another place where Conversational Interfaces would be used more in the future are technical support businesses. People tend to ask the same set of questions when calling the support people, which makes the introduction of a chatbot a good solution, at least as a filter for the standard questions. If the chatbot can’t resolve the issue by themselves, the support people can take over. But then only few support people would be needed, which brings us to the Artificial Intelligence killing jobs problem – a topic worth an entire book.
These technologies can also be used in the service industries. Imagine people inspecting machines or trains or anything else that could be damaged and just saying “oh, the window is broken here” and their assistant writes everything down and uploads it (along with the location) to the cloud. The repairman can just see where’s the damage and what’s the problem and solve it with less communication and paperwork.
We have seen in a lot of movies what is the protocol in police investigations at the place of a crime. The detectives inspect the crime scene and look for details that will give indications about what happened. Everything they find out is written in a report. Now, instead of typing everything, imagine the usage of voice assistants and natural language understanding. The detectives will just talk to their app, which if it is trained with a specific domain knowledge, would be able to categorize all the data into sections of the report, like place of the crime, clues, fingerprints found and so on. It will help detectives in their challenging tasks by filling in the paperwork.
Food businesses like Subway also use chatbots via Facebook Messenger, as a possibility to order and pay food without waiting in the line. Any service that has long queues of nervous people in their daily work could use such technology.
If you still have doubts about Conversational Interfaces, maybe this next story will change your mind. Recently, a four year old kid has found his mom lying motionless in their home. With no one else around to help, the kid’s last resort was her phone nearby. He activated Siri, asked for help, and within 13 minutes the emergency service arrived, saving the mother’s life. If there was no Siri, he probably wouldn’t have been able to make the call. Probably the phone was locked and even if it was not, a four year old kid wouldn’t have known the emergency service number.
This underlines two great benefits of Conversational Interfaces – ease of use and accessibility. Even someone with modest technological knowledge is able to give commands that the machine will understand. This has the potential to make tech devices more accessible to everyone.
These are only few examples where Conversational Interfaces will be used. As you can see, there are a lot of opportunities and plenty of room for innovation. People might not use them in public, but for sure they will use it in contexts where they will get their job done more efficiently.