Thanks to a new joint venture between Microsoft and Amazon, the voice assistant on your phone, tablet or computer could soon be able to do just about everything a computer can do - and more.
To start off with, Cortana (Microsoft) and Alexa (Amazon) will soon start talking to each other, effectively creating a new voice assistant with the top features of both.
This is a crucial step towards establishing a more open platform for voice assistants, giving us a glimpse into a world where voice assistants will be a lot more versatile than they are currently. Eventually, they will serve everyone better, from businessmen to academics.
As more people become receptive to the technology, more partnerships and open source projects will ensue. Mozilla has, for example, already launched its Common Source, an open source database of voice samples that will help future voice assistants to deal with more complex requests and phrases.
The top four assistants – Siri, Cortana, Google and Alexa – currently all have their own specialities. If in future they could be combined, it will no doubt be the start of an exciting new era. Over time, voice assistants will migrate from being mainly a consumer-based technology to one that is widely used in enterprise systems.
Education is one example where voice assistants could immensely increase productivity by making information available virtually immediately. On the business side, the future might bring specialised voice assistants for particular industries, e.g. aerospace, self-driving vehicles and customer support.
Once Google, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft all start working together the future for this technology promises to be incredibly exciting indeed.