Simpleview Develops Voice Technology for Amazon & Google Devices

16th October 2019

Categories: Our News

Simpleview is currently in the process of developing an application which will allow users to search for UK tourism information via the Amazon Alexa and Google Home voice enabled devices.

Voice technology has achieved remarkable growth in recent years, and it’s expected to triple, according to a forecast by UK-based analysts, Juniper Research.  The company predicts that there will be 8 billion digital voice assistants in use by 2023, up from the 2.5 billion in use at the end of 2018.  Almost half of UK households are expected to own a smart speaker by 2022.  UK voice transactions through smart speakers are currently worth £0.2bn and are expected to increase to £3.5bn by 2022.  In terms of demographics, 65% of 25 to 49 year olds, 59% of 18 to 24 year olds and 57% in the 50+ age group use voice search at least once a day.  

The use of voice technology in the travel sector so far has mainly been restricted to smart hubs in hotel rooms allowing guests to control the temperature, lighting etc. in their rooms.  The functionality of voice search for travel has so far proved to be limited, with Alexa only able to handle generic questions and Google Home simply scraping search results to produce random or unreliable answers.  

Simpleview’s new project will enable the provision of tourism information to be taken to the next level by allowing users to simply ask the Amazon Alexa or Google Home device a tourism related question and obtain an up-to-date answer in real time.  

However, voice technology does present challenges. For example, there are multiple ways of asking ‘what’s on in Liverpool tonight?’ so the nuances of language have to be taken into account.  The development team at Simpleview has also been working with chatbot specialists for advice on turning phrases into intent.  The options for following up the voice interaction by presenting information in an appropriate format also need to be considered, eg. via email, text etc.  

Simpleview’s voice application will source data from its Tourism Aggregated Dataset (TAD-UK) which contains detailed, contextual information on accommodation, activities, events, restaurants etc. from over 150 destinations across the UK.  As this data is regularly updated by both the individual tourism businesses and the DMO, it provides a rich, accurate resource for the voice application to plug into.  

Managing Director of Simpleview Europe, Richard Veal comments: "We’ve been developing graphical and visual interfaces for 20 years but voice is totally different.  It does present a whole new set of challenges but it’s a really exciting project to be working on for the team. For our DMOs, voice represents another channel for the distribution of tourism information and this project will enable them to meet the growing demands for voice technology from their visitors."

Simpleview is aiming to have a beta application ready in Q1 2020.  

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