How the Voice AI Community is Thriving through the COVID-19 Pandemic

By Rana Gujral - Last Updated on March 8, 2021
voice ai over covid

The corona-virus pandemic has had an outsized impact on almost every aspect of our lives. Technology is no exception. In the voice AI community, we’ve seen rapid development of new applications for existing technologies, continued development of new resources, and collaboration by some of the top minds in the space to have an outsized impact during and after the pandemic.

Let’s take a closer look at the current and developing trends in voice AI, the key players and their contributions to the conversation around voice AI in 2020, and how the industry is progressing in light of these developments.

The Voice AI Industry in 2021

Through the end of 2020, the conversational AI market grew to $17.7 billion and is expected to generate $600 billion in revenue with an additional $4.5 billion in investment in 2021. This growth has been intensifying for years, but COVID-19 accelerated it as more businesses and consumers came to rely on hands-free solutions, and have increasingly grown weary of the number of hours spent on screens each day.

Especially in the healthcare industry, which has invested nearly $1 billion in the last ten years, voice AI acceleration was a major factor. Telehealth and its implementation of voice AI and conversational AI technologies grew 150% compared to pre-covid levels, and a growing number of government agencies are now leveraging AI technology to provide information to their citizens.

As a result, we saw expansive growth in conversational AI usage in 2020 – more than doubling in many locations. What does this mean going forward?

In 2021, 80% of businesses are expected to utilize Voice AI and conversational AI technologies and half of enterprises will spend more on this technology than on their existing mobile app investments. It’s a booming industry and the pandemic has shown just how effective it can be in supporting efforts moving forward.

Already we’ve seen voice AI directly impacting wellbeing during the pandemic. The ability of Voice AI to analyze a human voice and provide insights on mental health – identifying levels of happiness, depression, and anxiety – allows mental health professionals to monitor those who are at high risk such as healthcare workers, older individuals, those with disabilities, and veterans.

Edtech has also seen a boom in voice AI-enabled applications. Google Read-Along, for example, uses Google’s speech-to-text technology to provide reading lessons to children, a valuable resource in a year where 65% of all children have spent at least some time learning remotely.

Other applications include touchless payments, which Business Insider estimates will be used by 31% of US adults by 2022. Manufacturers are starting to implement voice AI in fixtures for public spaces as well, enabling hands-free access to public restrooms, elevators, and kiosks. Voice shopping is expected to reach $40 billion by 2022 as well – showing the potential scope and impact of voice AI within the devices so many consumers already have.

Key Players in Voice AI in 2020

Throughout 2020, there were several key thought leaders who helped facilitate meaningful conversations around voice AI. These individuals helped bring to the mainstream the impact that conversational AI can have on individuals and businesses and discuss the next wave of technology and what will be required to leverage it effectively.

Keri Roberts was recently listed as one of the Top 40 Voice AI Influencers by SoundHound and is currently the owner of Branding Connection and previously the host of Inside VOICE podcast. She recently spoke at the Voice Tech Summit in December 2020 about the use of conversational AI for business and has helped bring the role of voice in different applications to a wider audience.

In a similar capacity, Carl Robinson has helped discuss and communicate the opportunities that voice offers business communities. His podcast, Voice Tech, is nearly three years old and offers in-depth interviews with experts and brands in the industry. He also produces Voice Chops Tuesday, the top-ranked newsletter in voice technology.

Dr. Teri Fisher’s Voice First Health was launched to discuss the intersection of voice technology and healthcare. He regularly discusses in his newsletter and podcast how voice makes communication more intuitive, efficient, and convenient within healthcare. On his website, he posts podcast episodes, evidence-based briefcasts with wellness tips, writeups on why voice technology will revolutionize healthcare, and his most recent speaking engagements.

Bradley Metrock produces This Week in Voice, a daily newsletter for those in the voice AI and conversational AI field. He’s been published in Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and many other publications, and features industry-leading guests on his show. Bradley is active throughout the industry, speaking at VOICE @ CES, Project Voice, Mobile Growth Summit, and National Digital Congress in the last year.

These individuals have helped bring new and exciting ideas to the field of Voice AI and conversational AI.

The Future of Voice AI’s Impact on Industry

We’ve seen AI technology have a massive impact on the efforts of hospitals, local governments, and national governments around the globe in the last twelve months. From care and virtual assistants that answer questions and help evaluate symptoms on mobile devices to remote and automated triage to reduce the patient load in emergency rooms, the healthcare industry has seen perhaps the largest impact of any from voice AI. But there are others. Insurance and banking industries use conversational AI in two-thirds of cases and governments throughout the US and other countries are leveraging it to improve communication with citizens.

Moving forward, the market is expected to grow to $27.16 billion by 2025 and provide cost savings to businesses of $8 billion in 2022. This explosive growth is allowing consumers to minimize visits to doctors’ offices, banks, car dealerships, and more, and will greatly improve the quality of engagement with technology both in the home and at businesses.

Final Thoughts

As we move into the second year of the pandemic and AI advancements in voice accelerate, we’re excited to see what comes next, from larger-scale adoption to clever implementations of the technology that boost productivity and support consumers.

Rana Gujral | Rana Gujral is an entrepreneur, speaker, investor and the CEO of Behavioral Signals, an enterprise software company that delivers a robust and fast evolving emotion AI engine that introduces emotional intelligence into speech recognition technology. Rana has been awarded the ‘Entrepreneur of the Month’ by CIO Magazine and the ‘US China Pioneer’ Award by IEIE, he has been listed among Top 10 Entrepreneurs to follow in 2017 by Huffington...

Rana Gujral | Rana Gujral is an entrepreneur, speaker, investor and the CEO of Behavioral Signals, an enterprise software company that delivers a robust and fast...

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