What is Voice Search? How Voice Search Works

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Once upon a time, not so long ago, people could only dream about talking with their computers and the technology around them. Fast forward to 2020 and this dream has become an everyday reality for millions of people around the world. 

Voice search has grown hugely in popularity in recent years. Are you looking to find out what voice search is? And how voice search works? This article will provide a bit more detail about them both, so read on below.

What is voice search?

If you don’t know what voice search is, you might not have realised, but you will have probably heard someone using voice search. Since the technology was first dreamt about years ago in science fiction, it has been a goal of the tech community to get technology advanced enough to be able to have a sophisticated voice search for the internet.

Voice search is when a person uses their speech to ask questions and give commands to smart phones, smart speakers and any other compatible device. The person will speak to a device that is activated for smart search, the device will register the command and will respond with an answer. While it may sound simple enough, especially when most people communicate with each other by speech in person, humans rarely interacted with their technology with speech in the past.

How Voice Search Works

Language is an extremely complicated phenomenon which has developed in human culture over thousands of years. There is so much meaning that is inferred through language that doesn’t come directly from the words we use. This is one reason why it has traditionally been difficult for voice search technology to be effective in the past.

A small example of this could be asking the question, ‘what’s the traffic like today?’ To a human, they would know where you are and where you are asking about the traffic. However, for a piece of technology, this information is not directly obvious. Other factors have to go into the equation to make the device understand where you are talking about. This process is to do with a device’s ability to connect different pieces of information to create an understanding of natural language, which is very difficult. 

Computers and technological languages are mainly based on binary, 1s and 0s, this has been the preferred way for computers to follow commands and actions since they were created. Consider the huge variety of words and letters available to us in any particular language, it’s vastly different compared to binary. Coding languages such as python as an example, go a bit further in bridging the gap between computers and humans, by making a common language that a human can write and the computer can make actions from. However most people are not willing to learn another language to be able to communicate commands to their devices. 

Alongside this difficulty there is another hurdle of actually being able to understand what the person searching for is saying. We all speak differently, have different accents, and have different turns of phrase. In the past, this has made it difficult for voice search technology to understand what we are saying. But in recent years, this has improved dramatically. 

Voice search has come on a huge way in recent years. This is mainly because of two factors that have grown in sophistication, the first is speech recognition technology and the second is the advancement of search engine algorithms.

Combining these two factors has let people speak their questions and internet searches, instead of having to type them out. A person says their command or question, the software processes what it hears, searches this within a search engine database, and replies to the person with the most relevant answers. 

Voice search has come on a huge amount in recent years as the technology to support it has got better and better. While it is now functioning well enough to have been adopted by millions of people around the world, there is still a lot of room for growth. Moving forwards into the future, we can be excited about voice search and voice assistant technology getting even smarter, as machine learning gets more powerful.