Voice & Zero UI - the invisible interface

In years to come, Voice Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) will become a complete normality, reshaping the retail industry, how consumers shop, browse and research products. For example, a recent study from Google revealed that more than half of teens (55 percent) now use voice search on a daily basis – an astounding statistic, which demonstrates the current penetration of invisible interfaces in everyday life.

As Google designer, Golden Krishna, famously said in 2015: "The best user interface is no interface" – a saying which has never been proved more appropriate than today. Following many decades of using the traditional mouse and pointer, which was then replaced by the more intuitive touchscreen, we are now heading towards a future wherein we will not even need a screen – or even our hands – to interact with our computers.

For a long time, we have known that people love talking to machines; we love saying “Hey, Google” and “Alexa”, and the early success that Amazon and Google have enjoyed in this area has raised awareness among consumers of how useful this technology can be. The real impact, however, comes from connectivity via the Internet of Things (IoT), which enables additional functionality. The infrastructure is now in place to enable voice-controlled smart homes, cars, buildings and cites. Effectively, Alexa can now help to manage many different aspects of your life.

So, what is this all about? Is it that we just enjoy talking to machines that much? In fact, we are drawn to frictionless experiences. Great customer or user experience that stands the test of time can be witnessed by brands who allow users to interact with devices, with the least amount of hassle possible. Screenless interfaces – sometimes referred to as "zero UI" in design circles – have exploded in popularity over the past couple of years. This is highlighted by recent figures from Gartner, which found that three-quarters of homes in the US will have at least one of these devices by 2020.

Evidently, this means that the battle brands consistently face in gaining a foothold ahead of Google and Amazon will be further deepened by advancements in voice user interface (UI), and voice search, with Amazon Echo and Google Home already leading in this area.

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