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The new era of voice

The voice has always had a prominent place in my life. For me, it is the closest and most personal means of communication.

I fondly remember listening to children's story LPs as a child, late-night radio programs in my bed, or translations of songs with my friends when I was a teenager. The stories, the shows, the songs, everything I heard helped me fit in and feel part of a community even before social media was born.

Since then, much has changed. Cable TV, VOD, SmartTV, blogs, portals, social networks, mobile apps… Gradually I distanced myself from audio, it seemed that the world was evolving and the voice was not.

One day, in 2008, a piece of news caught my attention. A company announced an investment of US$ 8.5 million to create a virtual assistant. The amount was substantial, but at that moment, the idea of a virtual assistant seemed more Jetsons fiction than reality.

A year later, this project received a second contribution of funds: US$ 15.5 million from Li Ka-Shing – one of the richest people on the planet. Along with the new investment, it was announced that the assistant would be available on BlackBerry and Android.

Surprisingly, in early 2010, Apple bought this company and frustrated its competitors.

Cut to Scott Forstall during the iPhone 4S launch presentation:

“Find me a good Greek restaurant in Palo Alto,” he said aloud.

When Siri's voice came through the device and interacted with Scott, the smile on my face couldn't be forgotten. For me, that moment was the birth of a new era. The Digitization of Voice!

Nowadays Siri, Google, Cortana, BlackBerry Assistant, Braina, Alexa, Bixby and a dozen other virtual assistants can access online information such as weather, stock prices, traffic conditions, news, tutorials and podcasts.

They even take into account the user's location and history so that audio is ever more personal and relevant.

Indeed, in the age of saturated media, where immediacy and profusion are creeds, audio ends up being a way to escape, where we can stop and think, discover, be enlightened…

In other words, the voice manages to be deep where everything else seems shallow.

The voice has the power to awaken emotions, as if it were an intimate whisper in our ears, and now has the ability to be more personal than direct marketing and deeper than a master class.

Do not believe? So how about saying: What's up, Siri? Recommend me a podcast.

Marcos Chehab

Partner of the production company Pod360 – Specialized in podcasts.

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