How Do Smart Digital Assistants Improve User Experience?

Apple's Siri digital assistant
Apple's Phil Schiller introduces Siri back in 2011. Photo : Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Microsoft has Cortana, Apple has Siri, Amazon has Alexa, Google has Google now. Today tech giants all offer smart "digital assistants" integrated into their devices in order to make users' tasks easier.

AI Digital Assistants

These digital assistants driven by artificial intelligence (AI) can set reminders, navigate for us and awake us with alarms. But not for all consumers technology's benefits are obvious. In fact, for many users, frustrations can outweigh technology's benefits.

According to the website, right now where's a lot of money at stake in developing better and smarter digital assistants. Tech experts expect that the technology to develop AI digital assistants is going to expand. This can also lead to improved relationships with these digital helpers.

For artificial intelligence researchers, speech recognition is one area open for future development. For this technology, accents are in particular still difficult to process. The ultimate goal is to make our digital assistants able to draw on an ongoing relationship for context and read not just our words but also our conversational cues.

At this point of developing the speech recognition technology implemented in digital assistants, Cortana or Siri or Alexa or M, they all talk to users as if it's the first time they've met them. But having a personal assistant with amnesia is no fun and not what we want from it.

Researchers are working to build "socially aware" artificial intelligence that can respond to users the way a colleague or friend does. One example of such digital assistant is Sara, a "socially aware robot assistant." According to the research team's website, Sara is able to help attendees at conferences. Sara can find the sessions that best fit users' interest after getting introduced to other participants.

If our digital assistants can become better conversationalists and more human like, we need to decide whether we do want them to be most like a colleague, a friend or a butler. From a family perspective, a digital assistant in the home can help everybody.

In order to help the family, they need to know everything about everybody. However, many of these AI assistants still operate on just one family member's account. Assistants like Siri are more suited for a butler experience.

Advertising is still what overselling what these assistants are able to do. But they may be experienced differently by the next generation of humans of in the next generation of digital assistants.

How Digital Assistants Change Users' Habits

According to Venture Beat, technology has a strong transformative power. Today, the idea of a search is becoming synonymous with using voice commands to interact with our digital assistant. According to a 2014 report from Google, 45 percent of adults and 55 percent of teens use voice search from their smartphones.

Voice search is completely different from traditional search and that's why the move to voice over text is a big one. One reason for these differences is the fact that our verbal linguistics often don't match up with our written word.

Another difference consists in the fact that voice search allows users to ask questions. Digital assistants can provide clear, concise information if we are able to ask the right questions. Digital assistants like Google Now, Cortana, Alexa and Siri are all able to provide personalized support by connecting voice search to a profile. The voice search revolution is also having a strong influence on SEO.

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