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Virtual Assistant Trends to Watch Out for in 2022

Voice assistants have become integral o many products that we use everyday. We’ve all encountered voice assistants when we’ve used our phones or home devices like Siri for Apple Devices, Microsoft Cortana, Amazon Echo and Google Now. Voice assistants are being used more and more to solve specialised tasks. Despite not being the main channel of interaction between humans and machines, we are headed towards a future where voice assistants will be extremely common. 

These are the top Virtual Assistant Trends that will become big in 2022.

Moving from stand-alone to unified solutions

In the early years of virtual assistants, companies invested in developing technology and created specialised assistants that were focused on solving specific problems such as smart banking or finance advisors, trip planners, lifestyle services etc. However now companies do not need to scratch from start; they can simply add voice skills to existing platforms. For example they can use the already existing Amazon Echo platform and create voice skills that can help the organisation’s business problems.

There are many benefits of this kind of an approach. Companies can save a lot of time and money on development and also integrate their solution into a pre-existing platform. This is beneficial also because organisations get access to a large audience and users will have a more familiar experience.

Platforms like Amazon and Google are actively working towards making it easier for organisations to create new voice skills. In a few years, it will become extremely easy to create a new virtual assistant. Adding customisations etc. will get a lot simpler.

2. Moving from voice only to voice first

The number of users that use voice assistants primarily on their mobile phones has drastically increased. Voice assistants like Apple’s Siri and Google Now are prime examples of mobile-first skills. Since mobile phones have screens, they are the perfect platform to create a voice-first experience. Voice-first interaction start with voice but may continue with visuals. Well designed voice-first apps combine visual, voice and touch interfaces. This is a concept known as morphing UI – Voice first mobile apps can potentially merge the strengths of both graphic and voice interfaces. 

Since voice only apps can be quite limiting, the industry is moving the direction of voice first apps.  When users are looking for information, providing a long list of options or comparing individual items using voice alone can get extremely difficult. Which is why the market will gradually reorient itself from voice-only to voice first. Organisations that are able to offer their assistant on many different mediums will have a significant advantage over others. They will also need to offer an omnichannel experience – which means that organisations should be able to switch from one device to another like from mobile to TV without losing context.

3. Using virtual assistants in public spaces

One of the significant advantages that virtual assistants offer is being able to automate routine tasks. Most of us already use Alexa to check what the weather of the day looks like or turn lights on/off. Soon virtual assistants will be able to exist outside of our homes and become a part of the environment around us. A lot more businesses will adopt the use of intelligent assistants as well. The industry is moving towards smart offices and smart cities where virtual assistants will play a big role. Virtual assistants will free up a lot of time for employees by cutting out on routine tasks.

There will be a lot more automation for typical tasks such as scheduling appointments, taking notes during meetings etc. They will also be a part of retail stores and government organisations. Virtual assistants will act as mediators between the user and the service. This will be extremely useful in scenarios like visa appointments and driving licence renewal.

4. Creating visual identity for virtual assistants

Creating visual avatars for virtual assistants is the next big goal for companies. In 2022 we’ll move away from voice only assistants to multimodal interfaces in which users will be able to see the virtual assistant that they are interacting with. Digital avatars are already being used on television shows etc.

Having a face with facial expressions, will make the assistant a lot more human-friendly. The rise of the Metaverse is another reason why companies will invest in creating digital avatars. Avatars are a natural part of the metaverse.

5. Focusing on security

Since virtual assistants have access to a lot of sensitive data, safety is a very important question when it comes to the future of voice assistants. The use of digital assistants is impossible without reliable security systems. Voice biometrics (using voice for identifying and authenticating users by voice) is one of the most promising ways of authentication. Companies will therefore invest a lot of money to improve the accuracy of voice authentication. The good news is that the technology already exists, it just needs to be improved. Companies will also explore the possibility of combing voice biometrics with other authentication methods like fingerprint and facial scanning.

Siddhant Gandotra