Tech Chief Says Voice is a Standout Trend for 2017

The Consumer Technology Association’s (CTA) chief economist Shawn DuBravac, Ph.D. explains how CES has evolved since its conception at 2017 Tech Trends to Watch at CES 2017 in Las Vegas, Nev., on Jan. 3, 2016. Photo by Alexandra Wimley/BU News Service.

LAS VEGAS — New advances in speech recognition technology are reshaping the way humans interact with machines and revolutionizing how our devices are built and connected. This so-called “new voice of computing” was one of the “Tech Trends to Watch” presented on Tuesday at CES.

Speaking to an audience of several hundred journalists, Shawn DuBravac, chief economist of the Consumer Technology Association, the U.S. trade association responsible for organizing CES, gave an overview of the history of computing and how voice recognition will impact its future.

“The next computer interface is voice. Vocal computing is replacing the graphical user interface,” he said.

DuBravac mentioned companies that are building products based on voice recognition on top of already established platforms, such as Amazon’s Alexa. These smart digital assistants will soon integrate many objects in our households, he predicted. The next step will be the ability to differentiate individuals by voice — a feature that will help create more personalized interactions between devices and different members of a family and increase security in financial transactions.

“We estimate that about 5 million voice activated digital voice systems were sold until today, and 5 million will be sold in 2017,” said DuBravac.

Other trends presented at the session were related to voice recognition or other algorithm improvements to create a better artificial intelligence experience. This is already happening in the transportation industry, with exponential improvements in self-driving cars — a trend, once again, highlighted at this year’s CES.

Sometimes this artificial intelligence experience can be unnoticed, as DuBravac noted while talking about what he calls “AI’s infusion into our lives and business.” One example is the new generation of smart fridges that adjust the temperature according to changes in the environment or how more and more services, such as video streaming or even shopping are refining their recommendation software to offer us a better user experience. “We are increasingly allowing these small things to be automated,” said DuBravac.

As more and more intelligent objects become connected, we will begin to experience changes in “connections and computations,” according to DuBravac. Our Wi-Fi will be the building block of a new smart home where objects are not only programmed to our needs, but are smart enough to learn how to adapt to them.

DuBravac also touched on the growth of wearables to track sports, sleep, health and fitness, in different form factors such as rings. Drones, hot at last year’s show, will also trend this year, according to DuBravac.

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