Voice Activation Will Blossom in 2014

“OK, Glass, take a picture.” Those are the first words spoken in a pretty powerful commercial highlighting how consumers can use Google Glass.

Two simple words trigger the device to wake up, activate the camera and snap a picture. The kind of voice activation being built into our mobile devices right now is leaps and bounds ahead of the voice dialing consumers were originally introduced to in the early 2000s, and 2014 looks to be the year voice activation truly has its time in the sun.

While voice activation is being pursued by many companies, there are limits to what they can do with it. For instance, companies can currently build voice activation into an application, but that activation cannot easily access the phone’s unique voice controls.

Once mobile operating systems open access to their voice offering – which I believe will happen this year, starting with Google Now on Android phones – the floodgates will open with apps building incredible experiences around voice.

But how does that help consumers? Let’s look at mobile banking and five ways voice activation technology could be used to better the experience.

Hello, App, verify me. Mobile banking relies on robust security to keep consumers’ information safe and limit fraudulent activity. Using the biometric of a customer’s voice as a password to initiate transactions could be the safest access solution since fingerprint scans.

Hello, App, tell me my balance. Say a customer has just finished loading their mobile cart on Amazon with a plethora of goodies. Before they click “confirm” they may want to check that there are enough funds in their checking account to cover the shopping spree. In this case, the app would be listening for the command and could give a balance without requiring the customer to navigate away from the checkout page – a clear value add.

Hello, App, pay Sarah $19.95. You think checks are a relic from the past? Just wait until we don’t need plastic anymore either. As voice activation matures so will the way banks can potentially initiate and complete transactions. This works for personal transactions as well as retail.

Hello, App, tell me the best interest rates available on a 12-month loan. Customers don’t always have time to go to their local bank branch to get information on a loan. A voice-controlled loan application feature could help prospective borrowers get basic information without researching for hours online or visiting a branch.

Hello, User, your funds are low. Just like voice activation can be used to request information, applications can be programmed to send updates when deposits are made, bills are processed or a specific balance threshold is reached. Customers can currently get information like this texted directly to their phone, but an audio alert could come from the app, and therefore not use up their data plan.

By the end of 2014, it will be completely natural to talk to our phones rather than use them to talk to someone. Banks are constantly looking to differentiate their offerings. Voice activation could give consumers increased visibility into their accounts and keep them connected to their bank. While initial uses might be as simple as giving users an account balance, the sky is the limit for what banks can and will enable for their customers.

You might not need to know your banker’s name anymore, but you will definitely want to know your bank app’s vocal trigger.

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