Voice .... just more data or more secure?

Voice: as the next big thing has been a cyclic mantra for at least 20 years – which is the time I have been in telecoms and high tech.

Why voice? Voice recognition, voice ads, voice biometrics, unified messaging, ease, navigation (interface)… voice is content and that is often more valuable than the telecom operator/ NAS collected data of who made the call, to whom, when, how often, from where and for how long. Patterns and meta data.  Interception and recording of all calls is possible but you need to know who and what to look for. They can listen but not to everyone!

In fact Voice and Face recognition appear to be in similar season fashion at the moment, with many of the same fears and mantras.  However it is the tech that lets us down, not our acceptance or vision of what is possible.  Voice and Face recognition are also different.  Voice is content and a continuous stream. Face is a one off, closer to finger print recognition for value, however voice and face allows you to determine intent and understanding of voice content. Face recognition could be fun to see who else took your image when you were somewhere – but I expect that will be sort lived. It will be more serious for those who have many profiles or dual lives as they may come clashing together.

I first played with voice recognition at GEC Marconi advanced labs in 1990 as an engineer, here 24 years later I am still wondering why a 99.6% ability to recognise words is not good enough.  Google voice is OK, but when I need it I am not in a quiet place at rest, I am in a rush and somewhere with lots of background noise.  The UI/UX is just not good enough for me to use all the time. Face recognition loves your image in certain light within a range of front angle…..it is not good enough.

Whilst there is so much promise voice does have one attribute that is very interesting – even unencrypted voice is currently secure to computing at most levels and defiantly at scale.  Much like hand writing, especially doctors, our free form communication struggles to be translated.  Yes all the tech works if you speak well in a quiet room slowly, or write beautifully – however we don’t.

Yes the 101 of voice it is that is provides more data and this will add to your digital footprint, but until the machine understands, am I not convinced that voice or face recognition have made the breakthrough on usability – not yet.