As Technology Gets Smaller, Speech Gets Bigger

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After considerable hype, Google Glass will be commercially available later this year. While gadget geeks will want to add the technology to their collection of toys, professionals have much to gain from Google Glass as well. The technology can be used in environments that require professionals to have their hands fully engaged in whatever they are working on, but who would also benefit from either finding or sharing information pertinent to the task. A doctor, for example, could use Google Glass to record a surgical procedure to help educate students.

However, as with many breakthrough technologies, this one doesn't come without its share of controversy. Some justifiably argue that it poses a safety issue, as the glasses can be a distraction if used while driving. For this reason, a state representative in West Virginia introduced an amendment to a state law last year that would ban the use of wearable devices while driving. Additionally, some are concerned that Google Glass will compromise the security and privacy of individuals, as the device can record people without their consent.

While Google Glass still has some obstacles to overcome, it's important to note that it's only a fraction of the overall wearable market, which is expected to grow significantly in the next few years. In fact, Strategy Analytics suggests the wearable market could jump from 15 million units sold worldwide in 2013 to 154 million in 2018. Samsung is already contributing to these numbers with its trendy timepieces, the Samsung Gear and Gear 2 smart watches.

It's unclear how well today's Web-connected wearable devices will sell. However, what is clear is that if the wearable market grows as expected, it will rely heavily on speech technology. It has to. As devices get smaller, there will be less room for touch interfaces. For more information about some of the latest applications designed for Google Glass (such as xPick, a warehouse voice picking solution from Vuzix and xCon Partners), as well as the latest smart watch developments, read the cover story "Speech Is Set to Dominate the Wearables Market," by Leonard Klie.

As speech technology further permeates mainstream markets, it will bode well for customer adoption of new voice-enabled enterprise-class technology, such as conversational interactive voice response (IVR) systems. To find out if your organization is ready for a conversational IVR, read our feature story "Battle of the IVR Designs: Conversational Versus Phone Trees," by Michele Masterson.

With speech technology playing a bigger role in smart devices and multichannel environments, it is certainly an exciting time in the industry. Much of this, and more, will be covered at our annual SpeechTEK conference at the New York Marriott Marquis (August 18–20). So, mark your calendars for the biggest U.S. speech technology event of the year. Once again, it will be colocated with our CRM Evolution and Customer Service Experience conferences. For more information, visit www.CustomerSolutionsExpo.com.

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