In a typical suburban town in America, a man may wake up and ask his favored voice assistant to turn on the lights in his voice AI-connected home immediately.

He may then ask for a briefing of his new emails, order some groceries to be delivered later, call a cab, and tell the conversational AI to play his favorite music while he waits — all with complete ease.

In another part of the English-speaking world, Wales, trying to enjoy a morning this smooth through the same tech is a more complicated affair. …

TOKYO, JAPAN — JULY 31ST, 2018. Amazon Echo Spot on wooden background. — Photo by akulamatiau
TOKYO, JAPAN — JULY 31ST, 2018. Amazon Echo Spot on wooden background. — Photo by akulamatiau
Personalized Echo Device

Across 2020, adoption of voice technology went up by 48%, according to Statista.

For all that growth, general usage of voice assistants hasn’t changed much. The majority of use cases are limited to music, weather, home controls, and other simple commands.

That’s odd, because the technology is becoming increasingly capable of complex tasks and serving users in greater ways.

There are 3.25 billion people using voice assistants.

With a number like that, there are both slight and vast differences between the people, so a one-size-fits-all design philosophy leaves huge chunks of the voice-interactive population with limited functionality.

Amazon’s Alexa, for example, has significant trouble processing 23% of commands given by users with a Scouse accent, popular in Liverpool, UK. That’s at least 900,000 people.

People with a Welsh accent don’t fare any better with Google Assistant.

The issues extend beyond the AI missing certain region-specific words. They touch on real use cases, involving people who can benefit from inclusive…

Old woman using a voice assistant on her phone.
Old woman using a voice assistant on her phone.

The United Nations reports that there are over 962 million elderly people in the world today.

By 2050, that number will have risen to 2.1 billion.

At that point, as the WHO notes separately, the elderly will make up 22% of the world’s population.

Even today, countries all over the world are facing significant challenges in providing satisfactory care to the elderly. As that demographic widens, those challenges are likely to become more difficult to address.

Technology is often brought up as a possible solution. Apart from helping those who care for the elderly to provide better quality service, technology…

Views about conversational AI no longer stop at their ability to be helpful and sound natural. While those remain key aspects of the design and use of conversational interfaces, the emotional experience is becoming an increasingly important factor.

From investigations into how empathetic chatbots can affect mood to studies on how empathetic conversational AI can enhance digital mental wellbeing, there’s a growing interest in the possibilities of emotional resonance for conversational AIs.

It’s also becoming clear that an approach that accounts for emotion presents benefits for consumers across different use cases, and could be an essential element for conversational AIs…

Like many leaders in the industry, Ananya Sharan didn’t start her career in voice technology. After working as a software engineer and then attending business school to become a banker, Ananya realized that her true passion was technology and product management. Today, Ananya is the product manager for Pandora’s Voice Mode, an innovative, mobile-only voice assistant that helps users discover and listen to new music with ease.

Pandora Voice Mode
Pandora Voice Mode
Image reference:

What is Pandora?

Pandora is the largest audio-streaming platform in the US. The company is best known today for providing users with personalized audio recommendations. Pandora is able to accomplish this thanks to the Music…

Group of teenagers outdoors with mobile phones
Group of teenagers outdoors with mobile phones

By and large, the younger generation is keen to try out new technologies. And voice user interfaces have not veered from the trend.

Research by PwC shows that users aged between 18 and 24 are adopting the voice assistant technology faster than older users.

The twist, however, is that while the younger demographic is quick to try the tech, their usage falls below that of their older counterparts. For those who build voice assistants, this presents both a challenge and an opportunity.

What’s causing a large chunk of younger audiences to lose interest in voice AI after testing it?


Philip Hunter’s work in voice technology can be traced back to the early 90s, when he first started a developer job that involved interactive voice response. Among other roles, Phillip moved on to work with early versions of Microsoft’s Cortana before he was recruited to work with Alexa’s developer-focused skills kit.

Since then, Phillip has expanded his work to include chatbots and has founded CCAI (Conversational Collaborative AI) Services. Phillip specializes in strategy, design, and AI-powered optimization.

The importance of voice analytics

analytics graphics
analytics graphics

Phillip explains that every software’s goal is to go live. However, conversational AI systems must demonstrate that they are working well. To…

In Conversational Interfaces, we speak with Keri Roberts, owner of Branding Connection. Based in New Jersey, Keri helps brands and businesses discover what they are great at and amplify it. She is a content marketer, and this includes a lot in the audio space, such as chatbots, voice interaction, and podcasts.

What makes a company great?

Keri loves talking about what makes companies unique, how they amplify that, how do you put that into your conversation, into your content, into your audio. …

In today’s episode Rebecca Evanhoe, a conversation designer and strategist, discusses pathways into voice interaction design, also called conversational design.

Based in New York, Rebecca’s own journey into conversational design is a fascinating story. It starts with a chemistry degree and then a master of fine arts in fiction writing.

These diverse fields of study illustrate the spectrum of learning one can bring to conversational design. An entrant to voice design doesn’t need only a technical or coding background, although it can help, too!

Rebecca says that regardless of work experience or academic background, an individual entering the field…

Shyamala Prayaga

Shyamala Prayaga is the founder of the Digital Assistant Academy. A self-described evangelist for UX and voice technology.

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