Voice Talks 2

Voice Talks Wraps Up 2020

Voice Talks Presented by Google Assistant will take a look at how voice technology has evolved over the last year and what may be coming in the final episode of 2020, which will livestream on December 10 at 2 p.m. Eastern. Google Assistant’s co-lead of global product partnerships Sofia Altuna will host the episode again, bringing the usual mix of presentations and conversations with experts.

2020 Voice Evolution

Altuna will jump into the many changes 2020 has brought to voice interactions in a discussion with Google Assistant’s Danny Bernstein, Lilian Rincon, Baris Gultekin, and Rebecca Nathenson. They’ll discuss Google’s particular viewpoint on how voice tech has changed in the last year. That discussion will be followed by Google Assistant’s head of product partnerships Naomi Makofsky sharing the changes to app actions and how the mobile version of the voice assistant has adapted this year. The gaming aspect of voice will also get a spotlight from Google Assistant’s gaming partnerships lead Niranjan Kumar, who will talk about voice games and how they’ve grown over the last year or so.

“Voice has really evolved this year. More people are using it during the pandemic, but they’re also using it differently than they did before, Altuna said in an interview with Voicebot. “At first it was all about productivity and things like games weren’t all that interesting, but now there’s growth in more verticals, and people are playing more games. Education has definitely grown too. We weren’t prioritizing it nearly as much as we are now.”

Learning the Future

Altuna will then discuss the more technical developments over the last year with StatMuse CEO Eli Dawson, Google Assistant design manager Cathy Pearl. They’ll look at how machine learning and natural language processing have informed and improved artificial intelligence and expanded the capabilities of voice assistants ahead of even more changes to come. To explore what voice assistant may actually look like in 2021, the show will conclude with a conversation among Dr. Terri Fisher, host of Voice First Health, Tech with Sach founder Sachin Kumar, and Google global business development lead Leslie Garcia-Amaya. Though the upheaval of the last year makes specific predictions difficult, Altuna has her own speculation of what the future of voice tech looks like.

“My three-month prediction is there will be more devices connecting to the home, helping navigate [living] at home. The longer-term will have the equivalent of that but many more devices connecting. In the last three years or so there’s been an explosion of devices, but they don’t always connect well with each other. That will change,” Altuna. “The pandemic has accelerated [voice adoption] even more than before. It’s a new modality that people are starting to get and when they use it they don’t want to go back to typing.”

Interspersed with the main presentations, Altuna will showcase live demonstrations of relevant voice tech, such as using smart lights on a Christmas tree, setting a holiday exercise regime, and using a voice assistant to get a recipe for making Hanukkah latkes. For the last show of the year, some of those audience members will relate their own predictions. There have been seven episodes of Voice Talks since April and almost 98,000 subscribers according to the show’s organizers. Altuna wouldn’t say ahead of the show if there will be more episodes next year, but is a big believer in what the show has accomplished.

“It became way bigger than I expected,” Altuna said. “I love talking about tech and I’ve loved the experience of hosting.”


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