Voice Control: The Future is Now?


We’ve all seen the adverts… people using nothing but their voice to order food, control their home and search the web thanks to a popular spike in voice control technology over the years. While only a few years ago, voice controlled commands might have been associated with gimmicks and Furbies, it’s fast becoming a booming business with many companies hopping on the bandwagon to see how far they can push the tech.

From Alexa soon having the technology to find you a boyfriend thanks to a partnership with eHarmony, to Google Home ordering you toilet paper mid-flush, is this the future of search, and how can brands benefit from this??

Voice Control Origins

While Siri certainly wasn’t the very first voice controlled assistant to exist, when it hit the scene with the iPhone 4s back in 2011, it paved the way for other similar programmes to pop up on our phones/tablets over the coming years with the technology only able to do more.

The first voice activated technology actually dates all the way back to the 1950s and the ‘Audrey system’ which only had the power to recognise single digits spoken by one voice, and ten years later IBM introduced their Shoebox machine, able to understand 16 words spoken in English. Considering how giant and boxy computer technology was at the time, this was a huge leap forward.


One thing that voice control is being used now more than ever for, is search. From directions, to late-night pizza places, the amount of people using digital assistants to search is on the rise. The big questions for brands is, can brands monetise voice search? While a seemingly good idea in principle, the issue with this is when searching, no one is going to want to hear a long list of search results spoken back to them, so how the system will choose which result to speak back when choosing between paid and organic results is unclear at the moment.

Earlier in the year, Amazon experimented a little with paid voice search but came to the conclusion that until there is complete customer trust in this technology, brands won’t be able to take advantage of it for paid search opportunities.

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