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Siri, Alexa, Cortana, Nina… Names more than recognized and associated to the same term: voice assistant. Increasingly, the variety of attendees that appear on the market and its interface is an ‘extra’ that facilitates such daily actions as “put an alarm at 7:25″ or “where is the nearest bakery?”.

What are voice assistants?

Technological development has a fixed purpose and is none other than making life easier. Mobile telephony has progressively evolved to reach what we know as a smartphone.

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The inclusion of virtual assistants to mobiles was the true leap of a technological development in constant evolution. Call a contact, check the time, send emails, set alarms, create reminders, know the traffic… The list of skills is growing, and everything within reach of the voice.

The positive trend in the penetration of voice assistants is noteworthy, since according to a MindMeld study, in 2015 45% of the users made use of some of the mentioned interfaces, while the following year the percentage rose to 61 %.

Although, following the line of his study, the results regarding the improvements that are expected of the assistants by voice on the part of the user mark the way of where all the development efforts will be directed to enhance the tool:

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info.mindmeld.com

44% – Understand correctly the words that I say

28% – Allow a more natural and fluid speech

27% – Get the answers I’m looking for

16% – More personalized answers

16% – Use in more applications or devices

15% – Faster answers

16% – Would not change anything

A greater understanding of the assistant as well as a greater fluency and naturalness in the conversation are two of the points that have been refined to make the experience more satisfying.

Where did everything start?

But let’s look back … Where is the true origin? In 1995, Microsoft opted for Bob, an animated personal assistant whose simple operation facilitated the user’s experience on the desktop of the then Windows 3.1. The interface explained the multiple options of use and operation of the various applications when accessing mail, settings, calendar … A funny dog ​​in the form of a cartoon, a speaker or a red ball were some of the appearances adopted by this assistant.

Microsoft continued in the line to improve the user experience and, in its Office version, launched the more than known Clippy, a small animated clip that through its tips corrected and facilitated access to the different tools of the application.

Clippy - Asistente creado para Microsoft Office97.

After this start, different types of assistants for PC, Mac and Linux followed one another. But the real importance and relevance came hand in hand with the mobiles. Use? Clearly greater. The fact of being able to automate tasks with greater speed make the Intelligent Personal Assistant (IPA) the present, and especially the future of a powerful tool

What awaits us?

No one will say “Hi Siri / Alexa / Google …” to start a conversation with the assistant. The first independent devices, without the need of linking with a smartphone, have already begun their commercialization in several countries: Germany, Australia, Canada, the United States, France, Japan and the United Kingdom.

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From now on the artificial intelligence of the assistants will allow to offer a more personalized experience with the user. The objective is to create an interpersonal relationship with the device itself. With the voice as an emerging interface, the real experience can be achieved by engaging, in the first instance, a personal relationship with the user, to later achieve that relationship is achieved in a group.

Adam Cheyer, co-founder of Siri, says that “users are not yet aware that in a very short time virtual assistants are even more important to us than smartphones or web search engines like Google”. A talk on climate change given by a voice assistant? Organize a call or business meeting only by voice? Understanding and solving moral dilemmas? The amazing growth of Artificial Intelligence implemented in this series of interfaces makes any option possible.

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