Ashwin Karuhatty, Business Development Leader of Alexa Smart Properties at Amazon, presented a talk on “Building Voice Experiences” at the RealWorld conference Tuesday.
The Amazon executive opened the lunch with allusions to the ominous Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey, Spock’s talking computer and the Jetson’s familiar Rosie the Robot – all projections a future involving voice technology. Then Karuhatty tore the veil from the audience’s eyes and revealed that the “talking machines” of the space age are about to arrive to technology en masse.
“We believe voice represents the next major disruption in computing,” Karuhatty said. “By 2020, over 200 billion searches per month will be done with voice.” Voice search traffic, negligible in 2014, now exceeds 10% of all search traffic with Siri, Google and Cortana exceeding 50 billion voice searches per month.
Talking computers are one thing, but Karuhatty stressed that every appliance will soon have ears and a mouth. “Air filters, smoke detectors, home locks, garage openers, beds and mattresses, smart refrigerator, smart lighting.” A smorgasbord of everyday items will be synced up to each other as an “internet of things” in a chapter which Karuhatty refers to as the “third wave in the life-cycle of the Internet.” This massive changeover, he said, will be a positive force for new and expanded businesses, enabling revenue generation, productivity and consumer engagement.
Perhaps the most astonishing part of Karuhatty’s speech was his revelation of what will be “normal” in the average home in the not-too-distant future. “When you say ‘Good morning’, your home draws the curtains and starts the coffee. When you say ‘I’m home’, your home turns on the lights and the TV. When you say ‘I’m babysitting’, your home emails you healthy kids recipes and puts on their favorite movie. When you say ‘Good night’, your home adjusts house lighting and turns off entertainment systems.”
“By 2018, 30% of our interactions with technology will be through conversations with smart machines. By 2020, 3 billion devices will use voice recognition technology.”
Karuhatty cited even more projections. According to Berg Insight, 45 million homes connected to Home Install Base in 2017 will drive $12 billion in revenue per year, and Goldman Sachs predicted $20 billion per year will be generated from the wearable market (such as smart watches, etc.).
As for Alexa Smart, Karuhatty showed off a line of Alexa-enabled devices and their integration into smart homes. The popular voice-activated personal assistant has certainly gained status as a forerunner of things to come.
“Voice is here to stay,” Karuhatty said. Investors in the technology need not worry. “The market size and business opportunity for voice and home is huge” and mainstream adoption is without question on the horizon.