Wake-up words for smart devices are not a commodity yet; but success of hands-free trigger words by the likes of Sensory (dating back to this demo in 2010), “Hello Samsung” and “Ok Google” prompted Apple to make “Hey, Siri” the top feature promoted by Craig Federighi, senior vice president of Software Engineering, when he introduced iOS 8 at WWDC (Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference). Staring in 2010 I began covering these phenomena as “trigger words” which signal an Intelligent Assistant to start listening for spoken input or commands. More recently (and more accurately) both Google and Apple have begun to position them as part of the “always on” features of their devices and applications.
The “always-on” approach has a two advantages for end-users. They can turn it off to save power and extend the battery life of their mobile devices. Just as importantly, they can make sure it is off when they want to protect their privacy or prevent unintended activation. Incidentally, Nuance, Sensory, Agnitio have demonstrated how voice biometric technology in conjunction with a wake-up phrase can deliver highly-convenient and highly secure access to mobile devices, applications and information.
As we near the half-way point of 2014, it is gratifying to see that many of my predictions at the end of 2013 are taking shape. The foundational technologies to support highly-personalized, natural user interfaces being supported by the leading firms in search and mobile operating systems. Giving individuals the power to take greater control over the conversations they carry on with the businesses and other people they trust will follow.