But traditional computers and smart mobile devices aren’t the only place we’re starting to see voice based experiences. We also have disembodied voices like Amazon’s Echo and the Ubi which are completely headless.
Right now, they both seem squarely focused on helping your house become “smarter”—streaming music, adjusting the thermostat, etc.—but it isn’t hard to imagine these devices becoming coupled with the ability to browse and interact with the web.
In the near future, voice-based interactions with the web will be entirely possible. They will likely suck a bit at first, but they’ll get better.
I’m going to make a somewhat bold prediction: while touch has been revolutionary in many ways toward improving digital access, voice is going to be even more significant. Voice-based interfaces will create new opportunities for people to interact with and participate in the digital world.
Because we’ve been thinking about how the experiences we create are consumable across a variety of devices, we’ve got the jump on other folks working on the web when it comes to voice. We see experience as a continuum, starting with text.
As voice technology matures, we will be the ones people look to as the experts. We will empower the next generation of websites and applications to become voice-enabled and in so doing, we will improve the lives of billions. Because “accessibility” is not about disabilities, it’s about access and it’s about people.
Sure, we’ll make it easier to look up movie times and purchase tickets to see the latest Transformers debacle, but we will also empower the nearly 900 million people globally—over 60% of whom are women—that are illiterate. And that’s a population that has been largely ignored on our dominantly textual web.
We will create new opportunities for the poor and disadvantaged to participate in a world that has excluded them. You may not be aware, but 80% of Fortune 500 companies—think Target, Walmart—only accept job applications online or via computers. We will enable people who have limited computer skills or who struggle with reading to apply for jobs with these companies.
We can help bridge the digital divide and the literacy gap. We can create opportunities for people to better their lives and the lives of their families. We have the power to create more equity in this world than most of us have ever dreamed.
This is an incredibly exciting time, not just for the responsive design community, not just the web, but for the world! The future is coming and I can’t wait to see how awesome you make it!
Responsive Day Out 3: The Final Breakpoint was held in Brighton, UK on 19 June 2015.