In this first Twitter Space, we were joined by Veritone EVP Sean King, and attn.live CEO Ian Utile.
WILL 2022 MEET OR EXCEED OUR EXPECTATIONS IN VOICE?
Our Voice Consumer Index 2021 highlighted people’s expectations to interact with devices through voice — from checking product information to playing music and even making purchases. Will 2022 meet or exceed our expectations in voice, then?
Our CEO, James Poulter (JP), believes the year 2022 to be the year for voice 2.0 — this means we’re seeing a big shift. If in the past, the focus was on smart speakers and assistants from the big third-party voice assistant companies out there, nowadays, voice is kind of… everywhere.
From new voice-enabled appliances featured in the most influential tech event in the world, CES 2022, to Sony Mobility Inc., a new initiative from Sony marking their entry on the electric cars market, voice has evolved beyond entertainment and into a primary medium of control.
Lately, we’ve seen advancements like the Siri-controlled third-generation AirPods, and, beyond the hearables market, the Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses developed in collaboration with Facebook, which provide hands-free navigation via a Facebook assistant.
Essentially, voice is everywhere. But that’s not the only change. Voice input and output are evolving as well. We’re seeing more and more custom assistants, either independently created, or generated through platforms such as Alexa Custom Assistant — like ‘Hey Disney’.
“WE’RE ALSO BEGINNING TO SEE NEW SYNTHETIC VOICE PARTNERS.”
“This is why 2022 is a very exciting time for the voice industry.” — James Poulter, Vixen Labs CEO
ABOUT SYNTHETIC VOICES WITH VERITONE EVP SEAN KING
So, synthetic voices are a big subject today.
Speaking of expectations on AI-enabled voice as a service (VaaS) solutions in 2022, Executive Vice President of Veritone, Sean King, remarked:
“SYNTHETIC VOICES ARE NOT NEW, BUT WHAT HAS REALLY IMPROVED IS THE TECHNOLOGY AND HOW REALISTIC THESE VOICES CAN BECOME.”
“It just comes down to people having an understanding of the consent functions that need to take place when you’re creating these synthetic voices.”
In the end, it comes down to transparency. As long as people are aware that a Jennifer-Garner-like voice is not the actual Jennifer Garner — and, of course, with the original voice-owner’s permission — using synthetic voices could help massively shape a brand’s sonic identity. They could save a lot of time and money for both brand and spokesperson in an ethical manner.
Even more, through software like Veritone’s MARVEL.ai, brands can now use the same recognisable voice to reach international audiences in different languages. Sean said:
“FOR A BRAND, A STORYTELLER, A CONTENT CREATOR, THERE’S A REALLY WONDERFUL ABILITY TO BE ABLE TO PERSONALISE AND LOCALISE YOUR STORY OR YOUR EXPERIENCE.”
With major platforms like Netflix going more and more global, synthetic voices offer an opportunity for brands to personalise their content on a global level.
VOICE TECH IN THE METAVERSE
Let’s go into the metaverse. But first, what exactly is it? Ian Utile, CEO at attn.live, sees the metaverse as the ‘place where we interact in the new digital frontier.’
We’re looking at two expressions of the metaverse at the moment: centralised and decentralised. The first is being driven by level 2000 companies. The latter is where most opportunities in Voice could lie — Ian says:
“THEY’RE THE ANARCHISTS IN TECHNOLOGY RIGHT THROUGH, THE WEB 3.0 RENEGADES.”
But these ‘anarchists’ are also really passionate about committing to a vision and embracing the virtual space. While the trillion-dollar company club brings in hardware like Oculus Quest, in the decentralised part of the metaverse reside those who love pushing the boundaries of technology.
At attn.live, Ian and his group of voice specialists are taking the first revolutionary steps towards the future of Voice in the metaverse. Not only do they take audio content like podcasts and distribute it everywhere on social media and podcast platforms, but also create an NFT (non-fungible token) against the audio. This means content creators can monetise their content automatically by having that NFT inside a marketplace where a corporation like a radio station could buy it.
Our CEO JP believes that:
“IN THE METAVERSE, VOICE IS BOTH A MEANS OF DEVICE CONTROL — USING INSTRUCTIONS TO CONTROL A HEADSET, OUR AR GLASSES — BUT ALSO, POTENTIALLY, THE MOST REAL MEANS OF AUTHENTICATION.”
If the metaverse becomes the go-to place for daily activities like shopping or banking, then voice NFTs (or NFVs — non-fungible voices — a term coined by JP himself) could become the equivalent of a passport in the metaverse. We could use our voices to authenticate ourselves, as well as to license and make transactions.
IS VOICE BECOMING UBIQUITOUS?
To round our conversation off, here’s what you can expect from Voice in 2022:
- Expansion: if in the past, we relied solely on voice assistants and the big smart speaker platforms, now we’re seeing more voice use cases on different markets and via different devices.
- Voice as branding: a brand’s sonic identity could become their best asset; and, with technologies like MARVEL.ai, brands can now use the same voice in different languages.
- New opportunities: the adoption of technologies like Oculus moves voice further into the AR and VR realms.
- Voice is gaining popularity in the metaverse — both as a means of control, but also as a way to communicate with others.
- In the future, voice NFTs could potentially become our virtual ID.
“I’LL WRAP UP WITH THIS POINT: THE REAL GAME IN 2022 IS TO CREATE JOINED-UP SEAMLESS EXPERIENCES ACROSS ALL OF THESE DIFFERENT TOUCHPOINTS AND PIECES.”
“That could be from a brand identity perspective, or an experiential perspective, but that’s the game to be played.” — James Poulter, Vixen Labs CEO
If the metaverse sounds a bit confusing, but you’re intrigued to see where it could take your brand in the future, drop us a line. We’re happy to chat!