Amazon Echo Sales Hit 3 Million Units: Is Voice Tech Taking Over?

audio microphone

Voice technology is the future. That’s the prediction certain experts in the tech world are currently making after sales of Amazon’s Echo device start to soar.

According to a recent report by USA Today, Smartphones are gradually loosening “their grip” on our virtual lives. Currently leading the voice technology marketing in terms of intelligence and capabilities is Amazon’s Echo device.

Hiding inside the sleek looking cylinder is a digital assistant known as Alexa and it’s Alexa that’s changing the way we’re browsing the Internet. Like traditional digital assistants (i.e. your Smartphone and its textual interface), Alexa operates on a Q&A basis: you ask it a question and it speaks the answer.

Voice Tech is More Intuitive

voice tech 1

A Bluetooth Vinyl record player paired w” (CC BY 2.0) by  Andrew-Hyde 

This set-up is a lot more efficient, a lot more natural and a lot more digestible than browsing the Internet manually. Of course, voice technology still has a long way to go before becoming the dominant browsing method, but with Amazon’s Echo already hitting 3 million sales, it’s clear voice devices are starting to become more popular.

So, if talking devices are the future, it begs the question: how did we get to this point? Although it might seem as though voice technology has come out of the blue, it’s actually been bubbling away for a number of years. Indeed, if we think about it, voice technology (in various forms) has been helping us for a long time.

Established Tech a Precursor for Voice Tech

voice tech 2

Audi Fail” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by  devopstom 

One industry where voice technology has thrived for more than a decade is the automotive industry. High-end cars from have been offering voice activated systems for years. Although slightly unresponsive at times, the systems have made changing radio stations, making calls and setting up the sat nav a lot easier and, importantly, safer for drivers.

Another industry where voice technology has gradually crept into play is the online casino world. Over the last five years live dealer technology has put online players and real dealers side-by-side in the virtual world. Through a combination of bespoke software, RFID chips and HD webcams, players at sites like Smart Live Casino have been able to interact with real people.

So, how is this a form of voice technology? Well, when you take £1 and ante-up at Smart Live’s live roulette tables, the croupier will respond to your moves with a verbal reply. During the live shows, the dealers and croupiers are trained to be as vocal as possible in order to create a more enjoyable experience.

We’re Conditioned to Talk to Voice Devices

voice tech 3

9-23-10” (CC BY 2.0) by  alexisnyal 

While it’s possible to argue this is a very rudimentary form of voice technology, the technology behind live dealer tables is actually pretty impressive. This dynamic, combined with acoustic output the system provides, is an example of how we’re starting to become more accepting of verbal responses.

Voice technology is certainly impressive and Amazon’s Echo looks as though it’s going to enhance our online experiences. In fact, as we’ve shown, various forms of technology have been pushing us towards this input + verbal output dynamic and that appears to be the reason we’re now more willing to accept this epistemic shift in the tech world.

Will voice technology dominate in the coming years? Probably not, but it certainly looks as though it’s going to become more popular as the technology becomes more intelligent and more useful.

The Tech Oven editorial team, scouring the Interwebs for hot news and gadgets..