Speech Will Be a Main Interface for Mobile Devices by 2020, Tractica Predicts

Research firm Tractica anticipates "significant growth" in attach rates for speech and voice recognition technologies in mobile devices during the next several years.

According to a report by the firm, native speech recognition will grow from 45 percent of all mobile devices in 2014 to 82 percent by 2020. Meanwhile, voice recognition, which identifies individual voiceprints for biometric identification and authentication purposes, will grow to an attach rate of 36 percent by 2020, even though virtually no mobile devices have such capability today.

The firm also noted that voice-based user interface technologies are becoming an increasingly important part of the user experience for smartphones, tablets, and smart watches. This growth, it said, is being driven by a variety of use cases that include not only traditional applications like hands-free calling, but also high-growth areas like virtual digital assistants (VDAs), always-on interfaces, and voiceprint identification of individual speakers.

"Aural interface technologies are rapidly becoming an essential part of the user interface for mobile devices," said Peter Cooney, a principal analyst at Tractica. "They add functionality, like voice authentication, and also enable new applications, such as virtual digital assistants."

Cooney adds that the technology needed to run speech interface technologies is largely well-developed. Microphones and audio processors are now advanced enough to enable a wide range of applications, he said.

Tractica's analysis indicates that numerous vendors are pursuing this growth opportunity, with at least 24 mobile technology suppliers providing product offerings in the audio interface sector.

The report also notes that touch has been the primary interface technology for smartphones, developing over time from single-point touch to multi-touch gestures. And while the report maintains that touch will remain the primary user interface in smartphones, tablets, and smart watches, haptics will also remain widely used.

Visual technologies, such as gesture recognition and eye tracking, are also possibilities, the report maintains, but hardware and software improvements are still required and more progress must be made on developing compelling applications for smartphones and tablets. Other technologies, such as ultrasound, are also being developed as alternatives to visual gesture recognition.

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