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With the rise of “smart” technology and voice-command devices, it’s becoming easier than ever to find online information without having to type, point or click. For example, the Amazon Echo Dot can retrieve information and even control devices around the house. It’s clear that voice-enabled technology is changing the landscape of the Web, leaving digital publishers to ponder how this technology will affect the future.

 

Voice-powered technology Is common, but not always intelligent

If you have a smartphone, then you’ve probably already experienced this type of technology through “virtual assistants” such as Siri and Cortana. Smartphone users can ask questions and receive either an audio answer or a list of websites related to the query. Tell your phone to “Call Mom,” and the number for “Mom” that’s in your contact list will be dialed for you.

While these devices do recognize that words are being spoken, they don’t always understand those words. Sometimes, the wrong results are returned because the technology misunderstood the query. Anyone who’s used the voice-enabled internet has probably experienced this firsthand. However, as new developments arise in the field of smart technology, the inconvenience of misheard queries and subpar results will become a thing of the past.

 

Evolving voice-enabled devices will impact journalism

We think that in the near future, voice technology will help users quickly and accurately find the information they’re seeking. Not only will users be able to ask specific questions, such as “What’s the latest news about the hurricane in Florida?” they’ll also find answers to more general queries like “What are today’s biggest news stories?”

According to the AP’s Director of Business Development Tom Januszewski, many news outlets are eager to jump on the voice-technology bandwagon — largely due to the popularity of Amazon’s technology. Meeting readers and audience members where they are — which means on the devices and technologies they are using — is critical to digital publishing and journalism success today.

At State of Digital Publishing, we often say that trust is an essential asset between a publisher and its audience, and this is especially true as voice-controlled media continues to evolve. Professor Victor Vina of Pratt Institute emphasizes the importance of protecting privacy and retaining empathy, which we agree are both crucial in technology and journalism.
What are your thoughts about voice-enabled technology? Leave us a comment below and let us know your opinion:

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