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How will voice recognition affect search in the future?

Voice recognition has come a long way since the early Siri days when the Apple feature was more like a gimmick than a useful tool.

But tech companies have made strides with voice technology, whilst Google is also becoming vocal with its search services.

When Google launched the semantic search tool, Hummingbird in August 2013, it steered search towards a new direction – voice recognition. A study by the search giant shows 55% of teenagers use Google Voice Search every day and 40% of adults have caught on to voice recognition too.

This means that search will become more conversational by nature and voice assistance technology like Siri could become a feature to carry on the conversation. If you have seen the 2013 film Her with Joaquin Phoenix, it is easy to imagine how we might interact – and fall in love with – our computers in years to come, albeit not quite how the film portrays falling in love.

Oral search may not be top priority for marketers just yet, but the technology will surely be a major play-changer in the search game. Suffice to say, the potential of voice recognition will almost certainly spell an end to use of keywords in the sense of how we use them today. Although there will still be a need for keywords they will be narrowed down by using semantic text rather than a generalisation of one or two words.

Changing interface

We are already beginning to see how speech recognition technology is changing the way we interact with our handheld devices. Even companies are using sophisticated voice recognition systems to guide customers through menus. With Google investing heavily in speech recognition patents, we can expect to conduct internet searches in a similar manner.

At the moment voice search is limited to directions and vocal demands, but with tech companies putting more focus on natural language – including accents and colloquialisms – it is only a matter of time before the technology can handle complex queries.

According to a senior research scientist at MIT, modern smartphones have the same processing power laboratory machines had in the 1990’s. This gives voice recognition technology the capacity to make search faster and easier. And you will be able to do it anytime and anywhere you are connected to a wi-fi hotspot without having to remove your mobile from your pocket or take your hands off the steering wheel.

Google’s semantic algorithm design will play a huge role in the effectiveness of voice recognition search, and wearable tech like Google Glass will provide the user-interface should you need to see the list of search results. Once technology is proficient enough to intuitively recognise what you are searching for, keywords may become a thing of the past and you will be having conversations with your gadgets.

The future of search is an intriguing prospect. Although we should not expect a rapid evolution just yet, once tech companies master the functionality of voice activated assistance, an influx of ideas to maximise the technology will follow.