What the Heck is a VUI Anyhow?

Throughout the history of modern computing, humans have used computing devices (desktop, laptop, smartphone, tablet, etc.) through Graphical User Interface (GUI).

For the first time in history – thanks to the growing success of devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home – Voice User Interfaces (VUI) are starting to become mainstream.

VUI = Voice User Interface

VUI is defined as Voice User Interface, it enables humans to control computing devices and machines using their voice.

If you like sci-fi movies (I love them!) – you’ve seen humans talking to computers, spaceships, robots, and various other devices. VUI is what will enable us to achieve this.

So what’s fueling the rise of VUI?

There are a few major advances in technology that are fueling the rise of VUI:

1. Artificial Intelligence

Major advances in machine learning have made it possible for VUIs to learn and adapt to each user’s speech patterns. This is starting to make natural language VUI a reality.

2. Hardware with FFVIP

Amazon Echo, Google Home, and similar devices that support Far-Field Voice Input Processing (FFVIP) are enabling many real-world use cases for VUIs.

3. Powerful Web Services

While technology like Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR), Text To Speech (TTS), and Natural Language Understanding (NLU) have existed for a while – the arrival of powerful web services that deliver these technologies has made it possible for inexpensive hardware to take leverage these technologies.

4. Ubiquitous Connectivity

Last but not least! VUIs will not be able to leverage the above technologies without the ever-present wireless connectivity. With the growth of smart home devices and IoT (Internet of Things) – nearly every device imaginable will have connectivity, and this makes VUI a reality for those devices.

Benefits of VUI

VUI offers several major benefits:

1. Most Natural

In my own observation, even people who are not comfortable using computers are able to learn and use Amazon Echo easily. And according to this article even a little baby can use it!

2. More Practical

For a lot of “smart home” devices – like appliances, lighting, etc – it’s not practical to include a screen for GUI. This makes VUI more practical for such devices. This is also true for IoT devices.

3. Less Expensive

Because VUI leverages web services for most of the hard work, hardware with VUI can be built at a lower cost than those with screens for GUI.

As a result, VUIs will become the most common interface between humans and machines in the not-so-distant future. This is why Amazon calls VUI “the next major disruption in computing” – and I agree 100%.


About the Author:

Hey I'm Michael, I live in California. I've worked in the tech industry for about 20 years, mostly in silicon valley. My other interests include video games, sci fi, and hot sauces! Thanks for stopping by.

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