The walls (and appliances) are talking: Building voice interfaces for the IoT

Connectivity in the age of the Internet of Things means these devices offer new levels of intelligence – but sometimes that means added complexity and confusing user interfaces. That’s why voice is gaining popularity as an interface: it’s natural, and intuitive. Now it’s up to developers to build the right voice experiences for the IoT.
complex devices mean we need good voice experiences for internet of things

By 2020, there could be as many as 33 billion connected devices, according to Strategy Analytics. That’s three times the number of devices from just a couple of years ago. There are devices for all different contexts: home automation and security, workplace productivity, safe driving, home entertainment, health and fitness – need I go on? But as all of these ‘things’ become increasingly sophisticated through connectivity, that doesn’t mean the interface has to be equally as complex. With each different form factor having unique intelligence built in, we need a universal interface that makes accessing this intelligence effortless.  We can’t put the onus on the end consumer to learn a variety of buttons, menus, and screens (or no screens) across all their IoT devices. We need a way to simplify our interactions with all our digital products.

That’s where voice comes in. Talking is human nature, and it’s becoming more and more popular as an interface for everything from smart light bulbs, robots, and TVs, to even virtual reality headsets for the workplace.

But because all of these ‘things’ are unique (and serve a specific purpose), voice experiences must also be unique. So, how do we design for this? View the SlideShare below to find out.

Building voice interfaces for the IoT is an art – whether it’s for a smartfridge or an activity tracker bowtie for your friend, Fido. With the right tools in place though, I think we’re up to the challenge.


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Kenn Harper

About Kenn Harper

Kenn Harper has been working in the voice industry for over a decade, helping to shape voice experiences across mobile phones, TV’s, automobiles, and other IoT devices. He’s worked with a broad portfolio of speech assets including voice recognition, natural language understanding, text-to-speech, and voice biometrics. Most recently, Kenn has been running product management for Nuance Mix, which is Nuance’s new platform that allows developers to build specialized voice interactions for any hardware device or software application.