Media’s Voice Control Future Discussed and Explained


Owners of iOs-powered devices have enjoyed voice recognition technology longer than all other U.S. consumers. Yet, Amazon and its Echo devices, along with other virtual assistants, have rapidly captured a large space in the home.

What does this mean for the broadcasting industry? A lot, especially as smart speakers allow “the interface of the future” — AI (Artificial Intellgence) — to become a reality of today.

Why voice control technology is no longer a rising trend and now a standard was the crux of a lively webinar conducted Dec. 19 with Veritone Sr. Product Manager Michael Kennedy and Apps Engineering Manager Steve Shaffer.

Voice control and conversational user interfaces involve four or five major players, and Shaffer believes that consumer demand — and need — will help shape which players emerge as the leader in the coming years.

But, are their limitations? Yes, says Kennedy.

In his view, the biggest limitation for radio broadcasters seeking to grow audience via smart speakers is directly linked to how to ask the AI-powered device to access what you desire — or simply communicating it with the right lingo.

He says that models and intelligence will evolve over time, and syntax and sentence structure will become less important.

Additionally, Kennedy believes there will be less restrictions with respect to personalization — for instance, the delivery of news updates based on a person’s geographic location or personal interests.

Is there a sales opportunity for radio broadcasters, with respect to smart speakers?

“The sky is really the limit here in many ways,” Shaffer says. “We see a lot of things trying things out, throwing spaghetti on the wall, in a sense, to see what sticks.”

He does note that there is more of a conversation between talking to the virtual assistant about something that’s been heard. “It’s all fair game,” he says, noting that nothing on the market does exactly the task of bringing ad information based on a commercial.

But, as Univision has demonstrated, there are ways smartphone users can now have Wallet data delivered on a product mention during live programming.

In a voice demonstration, Veritone showed how a voice ask for “breaking news” brought a link up for iHeartRadio‘s News/Talk WBZ-AM 1030 in Boston.

Shaffer notes that this is largely tied to relevance, based on what was most recently searched for, along with other geotargeting.

A second demo offered Breaking News for Los Angeles, with a Fox News Channel video report coming up first among 1,000 entries found by Alexa.

Kennedy and Shaffer then demonstrated how specific audio cognition is possible, calling up videos including that of Steve Harvey announcing the wrong winner of the 2016 Miss Universe pageant.

Kennedy and Shaffer were interviewed by Ed Ryan, Editor of Streamline Publishing’s Radio INK.

“This is more of the tip of the iceberg of things that are to come, and a way to extend content and a seamless way to use your voice and gather things more effortlessly,” Kennedy says.