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The vast potential of voice

Sep 09, 2020
People say “the eyes are the window to the soul”, and while it’s true it is possible to read emotion through sight, there could be a more powerful sense to draw upon to determine someone’s mood. Even the smallest change in a person’s voice can signify how they’re feeling – a sudden quickening of pace when they’re nervous… a flat or monotone when they’re tired… or a raise in pitch to signify excitement. This sophisticated understanding of emotion is something developers have long-since been trying to emulate through technology, and following some recent advancements, it seems we could be closer than ever to this point.

The key to communication
Amazon is leading the way in this futuristic branch of tech with the launch of the Halo – a wearable wellness band and app that claims to read someone’s emotions using their voice. The Halo looks similar to other health gadgets like the Fitbit, yet it also includes a number of powerful features designed to seamlessly integrate into your life. The most interesting of these is the voice-sensing feature, Tone, which uses machine learning to analyse energy and positivity in the wearer’s voice throughout the day – with the aim of improving communication and relationships. It may pick up on you sounding irritable on a work call and then speaking more negatively to a family member later that day, or even point out that what you think is an affectionate tone is actually coming across as a bored one – giving personalised advice to each user. Of course, Amazon isn’t the first company to look into analysing voice for the benefit of the end user, but with the Halo retailing at just $99.99, it’s the first instance of it being accessible to the masses.

And it’s not just the individual that can benefit from this kind of tech – there are now entire companies dedicated to helping businesses unlock the value of voice to drive sales, improve the customer experience and even increase security. Just as the Halo can pick up on vocal characteristics that may be received differently to the way they were intended, similar tech could analyse voice to enhance communication in a customer service setting – whether that’s through further training for customer-facing staff, or even picking up on the caller’s unique vocal cues to determine how their enquiry should be handled.

Sophisticated tech
We’ve seen how voice analysis technology can help improve communication for both individuals and businesses, and back in April, we heard about the potential health benefits of these systems too. It was reported that Carnegie Mellon University is developing an AI-powered voice analysis system for diagnosing COVID-19, involving both healthy and infected people being asked to share recordings of their voice to help improve the algorithm. Once fully developed, it’s hoped that the process will be able to provide a score on the likelihood of infection based on voice alone.
Voice developments Blog
Voice developments Blog
It’s clear voice is an incredibly fast-growing area – with a huge potential for tech adoption – so much so that there’s now an entire report dedicated to measuring the activities and plans of voice industry professionals. The potential for voice to transform the way we interact with businesses and even live our lives day to day is huge, and since communication is more important than ever in current times, the smartest brands will be looking to invest in voice at every opportunity.