Voice activated devices and voice control are quickly becoming an integral part of our lives. We’ve become so dependent on technologies like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant that this technology is often overlooked and taken for granted. While we’ve accustomed ourselves to voice controls, is the event ecosystem ready to brace the revolution in voice? My bet is that it will soon make way and completely overhaul the attendee experience.
According to eMarketer, 35.6 million Americans are expected to use a voice-activated assistant device at least once a month in 2017. This number is a 130% year on year jump. eMarketer forecasts that Amazon will dominate this space soon, but that might change with a rising number of investors thinking that things will change much rapidly. For now, it is a two-way battle between Amazon and Google, with Apple and Microsoft nowhere in the picture.
The growing acceptance of voice-controlled personal assistants among consumers will result in an increased expectation of technology in the future. As people become more acceptable and comfortable with this technology, they’ll expect it to be used in other areas as well. This rising expectation will naturally spill over to the event industry through event apps. In an already evolving event technology landscape, adopting voice controls can prove to be fruitful for those who embrace it and disastrous for those who miss the wagon.
Voice Applications in the Event Industry
Event Registration and Check-in
With the rapid advances in check-in technology in the event, the queue times has drastically reduced. The adoption of Near Field Communication and other onsite check-in solutions have quickly transformed the way attendees experience event check in. I think the future check-in option will be an automated, voice based system. The solution will recognize attendees by their voice and reduce the check in time even further.
AI-powered voice controlled apps have become quite common in homes and on smartphones. As people become more dependent on this technology, information retrieval by asking questions is likely to become the trend. For event apps, one instance would be giving registrants the ability to locate sessions by simply asking “where is the next session?”
Voice-powered vending machines
Vending machines with voice control have been there for a while. It is likely to become popular at events too, with robot vendors offering services to attendees. While many people may still prefer a human vendor, attendees who have a tight schedule may opt for robot vendors to save service time.
Vocal event feedback
Voice control devices can work both ways. It can help attendees get useful information, and at the same time, give feedback in their own voice. Mixed with real-time emotional tracking, the entire way of receiving feedback from attendees is drastically going to change in the near future.
Expected roadblocks before this becomes a reality
Even though voice control devices look promising to enhance attendee experience, there is still a long way to go. There are still issues related to security and reliability. A major security threat to the implementation of such devices is accessing data simply by mimicking the voice of others. As security enhances gradually, this problem might be overcome, but for now, dual factor authentication is likely to reign supreme.
Another issue is the reliability of voice control. Has it ever happened that you’ve said something and Siri or Cortana have misinterpreted it? I am sure this is common with people who have strong accents. This can be problematic if the voice-controlled assistant misinterprets accent during a large event. While voice control can enhance the user experience, it only takes a single misunderstood word to make information inaccessible. That’s when the search boxes and menus will come handy.
The growing popularity of voice controlled devices will result in a much higher level of attendees’ expectations. Whether or not voice control becomes the defacto interface or not, it is too early to predict. But either way, it is going to be a game changer in the events industry.