Voice recognition ‘the next big thing’ in audio

Voice recognition is ‘reinventing’ the audio device as the gatekeeper in the smart home and CE market, an analyst has predicted.

“There is no doubt that the audio industry will play a starring role in the rise of the connected home,” said Rasika D’Souza (pictured), senior market analyst, audio devices, at Futuresource Consulting.

“The inclusion of wireless connectivity in audio devices is propelling speakers far beyond simple music playback. Their flexible form factor and primary components for sound pickup and amplification position them in the smart home sweet spot, linking consumers to a supply chain that fulfils many needs and opens the door to value-added services.”

Recent research from Futuresource has revealed that 6.3 million voice-assistant speakers will be shipped globally in 2016, which will generate revenues of $890 million (£716m).

Amazon Echo was recently introduced to the UK market and Amazon’s Alexa speakers, which include Echo, Dot and Tap, are expected to capture eight per cent of global wireless speaker shipments, according to Futuresource.

It has also claimed that by the end of 2016, voice speakers will account for 51 per cent of wi-fi speaker shipments.

Amazon Echo speaker
Amazon Echo speaker

In the audio market, Sonos, Denon, Bose and DTS’s Play-Fi speaker brands have all announced partnerships with Amazon Echo, showing that this could be a “colossal opportunity” for audio brands.

“In consumer electronics, the winners are those who can ride the riptide of changing consumer tendencies,” added Ms D’Souza. “Voice-recognition technology is the next big thing, and it’s going to be huge. Everyone is talking to us about it. Speakers have the ideal feature set for incorporating voice, and right now this is a colossal opportunity for audio companies, if they get it right.”

She argued that the focus on multi-room capability has already shifted to providing music content directly on-speaker.

“And now it feels like the industry has found its window of opportunity, as speakers become even smarter and are capable of communicating with other smart-home applications, placing audio at the beating heart of the smart-home revolution,” said Ms D’Souza.

“The audio brand landscape could so easily be destabilised as Amazon, Google and other technology giants look to seize market share. Over the next two to three years, we’re going to see the voice interface flourish. Where visual and touch have dominated to date, voice and speakers will become more relevant for certain environments. Longer term, we’re going to see integration with TVs, appliances, light bulbs and furniture, and the companies that act quickly on the opportunity are the ones who will emerge victorious.”

  • For more on voice control and future tech, see December/January issue of ERT