The Voice of Our Generation: The Rising Popularity Of Voice Assistant Devices In The Home And Beyond

By Dr. Ryan Chen, General Manager of the Computing and Artificial Intelligence Technology Group at MediaTek

Voice recognition technology is one of the most exciting innovations on the market right now. Voice assistants were first integrated into smartphones several years ago, and consumers have become increasingly reliant on voice technology to simplify and automate the tasks in their daily lives like booking an appointment or making an online purchase. For many consumers, voice is actually a much more natural interface than text. In a world where multitasking has become a competitive advantage, voice technology is enabling consumers to do more in less time.

Beyond smartphones, we’ve seen an influx of innovative new Voice Assistant Devices (VAD) like smart speakers and tablets integrating voice technology. These devices are powerful tools that can simplify the tasks we perform in our daily lives and keep us heads-up and hands-free to improve productivity anytime, anywhere.

As voice computing has taken off, we’re seeing three interesting trends emerge: a push towards computing at the edge, new waves of innovation opening up, and a ripple effect on the economy.

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Edge Computing

In the coming years we expect to see a greater push towards computing at the edge in the VAD market. Many of today’s devices do some light processing locally and then send inputs, like a question about the weather forecast, to the Cloud. While voice assistants have become very successful with this approach, there are still some downsides around latency, bandwidth, and privacy. Additionally, the costs of running cloud services to process these requests quickly add up for device makers.

Connected devices will increasingly have more AI capabilities built-in for processing at the edge, enabling a more seamless experience for consumers to get the information they need even faster from their voice-enabled devices. Local processing will also use less bandwidth and will offer even more robust security to protect users’ data, a significant benefit as cybersecurity has become more important than ever.

New Innovation

Voice assistants will start to open up new waves of innovation: A shift in the design of connected devices, with exciting new features and form factors. A shift in the role that voice plays in our lives, changing the way we interact with our devices. And a whole new ecosystem of devices with voice capabilities. For the smart home, voice technology has already expanded beyond smart speakers and is being integrated into a variety of form factors like microwaves and other appliances. On the road, we’re starting to see accessories that turn any vehicle into a connected car. Beyond our homes and our cars, voice technology will reshape our lives in ways we haven’t even imagined yet.

We might even see our primary compute paradigm change. Most consumers rely on their smartphone and PC as their primary computing platforms, and then use other devices like smart speakers for different tasks. As more consumers embrace voice technologies, this could change in ways we can’t even anticipate.

Economic Impact

This new renaissance in design and devices that we’re entering will have an economic impact. We may see consumers buying more and more devices to be connected in every aspect of their life. For example, if a consumer loves having a smart speaker in their living room, they might go out and buy them for other rooms in their home. Or perhaps they’ll buy more light bulbs, security cameras, and other connected devices that can be integrated through intuitive voice-centric capabilities.

At some point we’ll also see consolidation. For example, today consumers can buy voice accessories for their car – but in the future voice capabilities might become a standard feature in the cars that we buy, and a second device won’t be necessary.

Whatever happens, it’s clear there is a huge opportunity today for companies building voice-first devices and around intuitive voice technologies.

MediaTek’s Role in the Voice Recognition Landscape

At MediaTek, we’re constantly working to accelerate innovation in the voice recognition and assistant technology space. MediaTek is the #1 chipmaker for voice assistant devices, powering some of the most popular devices on the market.

Our high-performance chipsets help intelligent decision-making happen faster. Our solutions are also extremely energy-efficient so consumers can enjoy their devices for longer in-between charges, or happily leave them always-on without any significance to their power bills. To enable developers and device makers to more easily design differentiated solutions, our chipsets support mainstream AI frameworks including Google TensorFlow, Caffe, Amazon MXNet, Sony NNabla, and more.

It’s always been our mission to make great technology accessible to consumers, so we’re proud to help device makers bring to market innovative and affordable voice-focused devices that consumers love. We are continuing to work closely with our partners and customers to expand the VAD ecosystem and enrich consumers’ lives by bringing voice technology to an even wider variety of devices in the home and beyond.