Edge voice assistants privacy
Feb 08, 2022
7 MIN READ

Voice Assistants on the Edge Provide Greater Security, Privacy, and Safety

Advances in voice AI technology have untethered voice assistants from the cloud and made them available in a variety of products. A range of connectivity options, from embedded-only to cloud-only, and a variety of hybrid solutions in between have opened up possibilities for a wide range of product manufacturers. Limited or no cloud connectivity is giving companies an opportunity to create voice experiences without many of the privacy concerns associated with cloud-only voice assistants.

Individual privacy has long been a challenge for companies wanting to give their customers the greater convenience, accessibility, and flexibility of voice user interfaces. For customers, privacy concerns are often at odds with the desire for more personalized experiences. Companies across industries are already mitigating those concerns by shifting to brand-owned voice assistants that allow them to control how data is collected, which data is collected, and how it is used.

These independently-owned voice assistants are also giving companies greater flexibility in the amount of CPU-processing power and the type of connectivity that works best for their needs. Embedded and edge voice assistants are giving manufacturers the ability to provide accurate and responsive voice assistants that deliver greater privacy, personalization, and safety.

Privacy without sacrificing convenience and functionality

Voice assistants are designed to deliver hands-free functionality, convenience, and sometimes safer interfaces for people to interact with the world around them. But, when the responses are delayed, inaccurate, and frustrating, the advantage of the voice interface is lost.

When the responses are delayed, inaccurate, and frustrating, the advantage of the voice interface is lost.

Edge and embedded voice assistants offer exceptional convenience and functionality through advanced Natural Language Understanding (NLU) capabilities, increased processing power, and improved speed and accuracy, even in noisy environments. Wake words embedded on the device are always on and ready to respond to a “wake up” prompt—while keeping power consumption low and user privacy high. 

Cloud-only voice assistants in environments where access to the cloud is not consistently available run the risk of inconsistent performance, lack of usefulness, and possible abandonment by the user. Edge and embedded voice assistants don’t require connection to the cloud and can function even in remote areas, such as passing through a tunnel or forest in a car or out at sea on a cruise ship, or when the internet is simply not available. 

Personalized experiences without privacy concerns

Personalization adds a layer of value to the voice experience for users and brands. Consumers looking for experiences that are easier, more convenient, and faster are better able to get their needs met by voice assistants that offer a level of personalization and respond with answers and suggestions based on context and the user’s previous interactions. These consumers are willing to share their information with brands they trust in order to get the level of service personalization can bring. In fact, according to Merkle, 76% of customers are comfortable sharing their data for personalization. With edge and embedded voice assistants, though, users don’t have to choose between personalization and privacy. Product manufacturers can deliver both. 

76% of customers are comfortable sharing their data for personalization.

Merkle

Voice AI users can benefit from personalization with the convenience of saved payment information for future purchases or recommendations based on previous commands. These conveniences are especially needed in the hospitality and healthcare sectors where privacy and security are of the utmost concern.

In a hotel or on a cruise ship, guests can program lights, window coverings, and temperature settings for rooms, or order room service and housekeeping without concerns that their conversations will be collected and stored. In these settings, guests often have the option of clearing their information from the local device before they leave. 

In the healthcare industry, doctors and nurses can pre-set voice-enabled medical device specifications before surgery or examination without sharing specific patient information to the cloud and maintaining patient confidentiality.

Companies also benefit from delivering personalized experiences. Personalized experiences not only increase brand loyalty and user engagement. They can also increase revenue. According to Statista, 93% of B2B marketers attributed revenue growth to personalization. Edge and embedded voice assistants give users and brands the advantages of personalized experiences while keeping personal data secure on the device. 

93% of B2B marketers attributed revenue growth to personalization.

Statista

Edge voice assistants have the option of some cloud connectivity for updates and retrieving information without storing user information in the cloud. Instead, voice assistants on the edge can keep all user information stored locally on-device without the need to share it with the cloud. Whether the data is a name, phone number, passwords, search history, or more sensitive information, such as payments or patient information, it will never be able to be accessed on the internet with edge voice assistants designed for privacy.

Personalized experiences that don’t create privacy concerns require transparency and communication to users about which data is collected and how it is used. If partnering with a third-party voice AI provider, such as Amazon or Google, companies may never see users’ data and have little control over how it is used. Brands seeking to provide trusted, personalized voice experiences will want to partner with an independent voice AI platform provider to develop a customized voice assistant that delivers a unique experience to their customers and allows the company to own their customer relationships and data.

Advanced safety features for home and car

Consumers are increasingly looking for security measures to ensure the safety of themselves, their families, and their belongings. According to a ResearchandMarkets report, the global market for Home Security Systems was estimated at $52 billion in 2020 and is projected to grow to $82.3 billion by 2027. 

The global market for Home Security Systems was estimated at $52 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach $82.3 billion by 2027.

Research and Markets

Voice assistants provide an opportunity for manufacturers to offer convenient, always-on safety features to their users. Hybrid edge voice technology—a voice assistant that has access to both embedded and cloud connectivity with higher processing power—allows device manufacturers and OEMs a way to meet their customer’s safety needs, regardless of internet availability. 

Both home security systems and emergency alerts in the car can rely on voice AI technology to get help in situations where the user is nowhere near the device, unable to use their hands to push a call button, or has no access to their mobile phone. Just by using their voice, users can alert authorities that they need assistance, even if they are across the room or surrounded by a noisy environment. Users can also create safety keywords, secure wake words, or distress words programmed into the embedded device to covertly signal that they are in need of help. 

Other advanced technologies, such as biometrics, fingerprints, facial or voice recognition, or speaker ID, can be incorporated for a multimodal experience. These measures can add an extra level of security to ensure that only the designated user is adjusting security and other settings. By using voice recognition or speaker ID technologies, users can be confident that their voice assistant is only responding to commands from the specified users, even when several people in the home or car are speaking. 

Edge voice assistants offer exceptional privacy, personalization, and safety for users across industries without sacrificing functionality, speed, accuracy, responsiveness, or convenience. The markets for personalization, security features, and improved privacy are growing exponentially. Brands previously unable to venture into the voice-first world should explore the lower manufacturing costs and improved product functionality of edge voice assistants to offer superior features to their users. 

Want to know more about voice assistants on the edge? SoundHound recently published a guide, Discovering Possibilities of Voice Assistants on the Edge, that discusses edge voice assistants as a product solution across industries and a way to increase functionality, accessibility, and privacy.

At SoundHound Inc., we have all the tools and expertise needed to create custom voice assistants and a consistent brand voice. Explore SoundHound’s independent voice AI platform at SoundHound.com and register for a free account here. Want to learn more? Talk to us about how we can help bring your voice strategy to life.

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