47.8 million adults in America have access to a smart speaker. The adoption rate for smart speakers beats out nearly every other form of technology and communication. By comparison, it took the telephone 75 years to reach 50 million users and the television 13. Even the internet took four years.
Smart speakers have done it in two.
Brian Parkhurst, Account Executive for VoiceXP, said that an estimated 75 percent of people will have some form of a smart speaker by 2020.
“What we’re living in right now is the leading edge of those days,” said Parkhurst. “This technology is absolutely blowing up. It’s fun to be involved in something like that.”
VoiceXP is a St. Louis-based startup based that writes code for voice applications for platforms like Alexa, Google Home and Cortana.
Since being founded in January 2017 by Bob Stolzberg, the young company has written between 20-30 skills available in skills stores and written 100s of voice demos for clients.
“Literally anything you can do with a keyboard or a mouse––typing, pointing, clicking––you can ask Alexa to go do, provided you’ve written the right questions and you’ve written the right experience,” said Parkhurst.
Parkhurst explained that in short, voice technology works by taking the human voice, turning it into text and then sending it into “the cloud.” It then finds the answer and repeats it back with a voice.
Companies come to VoiceXP looking to have a voice app made for basic functionality and then together, they ask employees of the company what they do every day. Within those conversations, find ways to use voice to change the employee’s actions.
Voice technology has the potential to save businesses money by saving employees time by shaving seconds off every task. Any industry from shipping to medicine can benefit from it.
“There are major corporations that don’t have their heads wrapped around this yet. They don’t know where to start,” said Parkhurst. “It may not seem like 10, 15, 30 seconds is a ton of time, but if you add that up, there’s a return on your investment.”
VoiceXP has two Amazon Alexa Champions on its staff. Parkhurst said that’s not just a title. Those champions are deemed by Amazon to be the foremost users, operators and technicians with their device.
“There are 27 champions in the world, we have two on our staff,” said Parkhurst. “We’re very proud of that. But all that technology, all that brain power, doesn’t work unless you’re creating the right experience.”
In addition to a technically sound application, Parkhurst said VoiceXP is also focused on good experiences. The company doesn’t just envision an end product; they also envision the user experience.
“We’re walking both sides of that line, and I think that’s what really sets us apart from a marketing company that’s trying to get into this space or another software company that’s writing from a code standpoint,” said Parkhurst. “I think we’re that sweet spot of where technology meets the consumer.”
After succeeding in the St. Louis area, VoiceXP has branched out to Springfield, Missouri, and Kansas City with additional offices.
Parkhurst said voice technology is still so new that a hub for it hasn’t emerged anywhere yet. The Midwest could potentially come along and take it over.
“We really want to build regionally in this marketplace,” said Parkhurst. “We want to develop this area as that hub. It’s been fun getting to know the tech market here and reaching out to explain what we do.”
Christine McGuigan is the Managing Editor of Silicon Prairie News.