Beyond Voice

If you find yourself (or your brand) aligned with Winston Churchill’s famous quote, “It was my ambition all of my life to be the master of the spoken word,” then you may want to start reconsidering a few things. If you’re reading the headlines coming out of CES, it’s easy to proclaim 2019 as the year of voice—it’s a moment in time when nearly every industry realized the potential of the voice-enabled interface. But, lurking in the subtext of this year’s CES announcements is the future of interaction.

In the future, silence will be the golden child. Microsoft’s recent patent focuses on use cases of “silent technology”—a technology built around the premise of how whispering can only be heard by oneself or few people.  This means brands, especially those who deal with sensitive information, will not only have an “outside voice” in the form of the commanding Alexa, Siri, or Google response, but also an “inside voice,” meant for more private interactions.

Gesture control technology is nothing new—the entertainment space has widely applied the technology in gaming and mixed realities and applications such as Tinder and Instagram introduced new modes of gesture control. Padrone challenges convention through a gesture-sensitive ring to replace the traditional computer mouse or trackpad. Taking gestures a step forward, Mercedes-Benz launched a vehicle with a sort of “smart gesture” capability—the vehicle reacts to the motions of the passenger, such as turning on the lights when the passenger reaches towards the lights. Mercedes has effectively merged predictive technologies to provide a differentiated service to customers. Brands have the opportunity to act as utilities, helping customers by studying and reacting to consumers’ actual behavior.

Rethink physical space and time. AR brought the opportunity for brands to unlock hidden realms of the physical space, but the technology remains largely reactive. However, Sphero, a robotics company launched a color-sensitive ring that reacts to color—and pairs color with music, enabling real-time original music creation. What could one customer’s interaction with a print ad sound like when activated by Sphero, let alone an orchestra of customers? Through the creative application of the sensor, brands have the opportunity unlock interactive elements of their experiences—to respond to customers and truly co-create rather than simply predict and react.

While a voice strategy is ever-important for brand strength today, a brand expression must adapt to the mediums of tomorrow. Taking a moment to consider the impact of these future-forward interfaces on your brand experiences today will help ensure your brand stays differentiated and engaging tomorrow without a missed opportunity.

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