Conversational interfaces: The next big technological revolution?
Until now, we have been forced to learn the language of computers. But in the technological revolution currently underway, computers are finally learning to understand ours.
Conversational interfaces are described by many as the next big digital frontier to conquer. Until now, we have been forced to learn the language of computers. But in the technological revolution currently underway, computers are finally learning to understand ours.
We’re entering a new world where you could have a true virtual assistant that is not only making you smarter, but knows you the way your closest peers do. It all sounds quite intriguing. But how are we doing so far? Where is it going to be adopted? Is it becoming mainstream soon? It’s hard to say.
Much of the knowledge on conversational interfaces is still scattered throughout a somewhat uncoordinated community. And that’s a shame if you ask us. We want to gather the most curious minds in conversational interfaces, invite everyone to explore together and share the stories in what we call ‘Do you speak human?’.
To kick off the exploration, let’s dive into the early days and the future potential. Afterwards, let’s chat about it!
One day soon, you will talk to your devices the way you talk to your friends. And your devices will talk back.
Conversational interfaces have been around for years, but let’s face it: So far, they’ve been pretty dumb.
Even the more sophisticated voice interfaces have relied on speech but somehow missed the power of dialogue. Ask any of the thought-leaders today, though, and you’ll hear the same refrain over and over: It’s different now.
Nearly every major tech company — from Amazon to WeChat to Facebook to Google — is chasing the sort of conversational user interface that you’ve experienced in the movies.
Take Amazon’s voice service ‘Echo’ for instance. It enables you to speak your wishes to the voice controlled personal assistant ‘Alexa’ and see them fulfilled — at least simple ones, like dimming your lights, playing music tracks, ordering pizza and 1,000-plus other things.
Dozens of startups around the world are in the game too. All are fighting to come out on top in the midst of a powerful shift in our relationship with technology.
The Bigger Picture
What Steve Jobs saw in the graphical user interface (GUI) when he was introduced to it back in 1979 was a way to expand the market for computers. However, as elegant and efficient as it is, the GUI still requires humans to learn a computer’s language. Now, computers are finally learning how to speak ours.
In their research, Microsoft, Nuance, and others have all come to the same conclusion:
A great conversational technology is only fully useful when it’s everywhere, when it can get to know you in multiple contexts — learning your habits, your likes and dislikes, your routine and schedule.
In that case, computers become a natural extension of ourselves and enhance our capabilities the way phones have given us access to near infinite knowledge everywhere we go. This also means milions of disabled people could gain newfound access to technology.
Let’s Start The Conversation
The above proves that a shift in how we design and interact with computer interfaces is almost inevitable. But is this going to be adopted widespread? Where? And how do we ensure meaningful adoption?
The questions are many. So how do we tackle them?
We believe through a joint exploration with the most curious minds in conversational interfaces. An exploration where we dig after knowledge and information from a wide range of perspectives and share it with the rest of the world through hackathons, talks and this Medium publication.
Want to add perspectives? Talk about conversational interfaces? Know something about artificial intelligence? Are you building your own chat bot? Working on a prototype in your basement? Or have some kind of point of view on this?
Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or hit us up on Twitter. We can’t wait to chat with you.
It’s time to start the conversation. Are you in?