Google's head of search, Ben Gomes, has predicted that the next big technological leap will be the coming advancements in voice services. He has claimed that a better understanding of common language is crucial to the future of the internet.
"Speech recognition and the understanding of language is core to the future of search and information," said Gomes in an interview with The Guardian.
"But there are lots of hard problems such as understanding how a reference works, understanding what "he", "she" or "it" refers to in a sentence," he added. "It's not at all a trivial problem to solve in language and that's just one of the millions of problems to solve in language."
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Voice recognition services is built into Google's search and its AI voice assistant, which is embedded into billions of smartphones globally.
The development of voice recognition services has become essential in developing countries with low literacy rates where, as Gomes points out, there has never been a common keyboard. "I studied Hindi for 10 years, but I wouldn’t know how to type it," he commented, "so, voice is much easier to use than typing."
It is not hard to see why the tech giant sees appealing to developing countries through more usable mobile devices as a priority. A study by International Telecommunications Union found that rates for mobile phone subscriptions in developing countries hit 98.7% in 2017, and that even in the least-developed nations penetration was 70.4% and rising.