Why Europe Must End Its 30-Year Digital Winter to Ensure Its Long-Run Future

AI Wearables That Let You Talk Instead of Type

VTouch wants to transform how we interact with technology with WIZPR, an artificial intelligence (AI) smart ring that lets users communicate with their preferred AI assistants by merely whispering into the device. 

The WIZPR is part of a new era of AI gadgets, such as the Humane.ai pin and Meta smart glasses, which could potentially revolutionize commerce by offering more intuitive and seamless ways to engage with digital services. New advancements in AI are leading to a series of devices that let users talk to AI assistants instead of typing, moving beyond the old way of communicating through keyboards.

“The availability of natural-sounding, vocally responsive AI will fundamentally change the way we work and live,” Zach Koch, CEO and co-founder of Fixie.ai, an AI verbal communication company, told PYMNTS.

“Imagine business meetings in which AI can listen along, be proactive, and meaningfully contribute to the conversation with immediate, accurate sharing of data and insights. Or imagine being at home, with an AI guiding you through a dinner recipe while also helping your kids with their math homework — all with no typing and no text boxes required.”

The voice economy is growing. A PYMNTS study shows significant consumer interest in voice technology, with 54% preferring its future use for its speed, 27% having used a voice-activated device in the past year, and 22% of Gen Z willing to pay over $10 monthly for a high-quality voice assistant.

However, a PYMNTS report on U.S. consumers also revealed skepticism about voice AI in quick-service restaurants matching human interaction. Only 8% think voice assistants are as effective as humans now, with 16% believing they could be within two years. A majority expect a longer wait or doubt it will ever achieve human-like reliability and intelligence.

Talking to AI

WIZPR is designed to be worn on the finger and features advanced speech recognition technology to capture and interpret the user’s whispered commands accurately. The device then transmits these commands to the user’s smartphone or other connected devices, where the AI assistant can process the request and provide a response. WIZPR is compatible with various popular AI assistants, including Siri, Google Assistant and Alexa.

Another notable example of AI-powered wearables is the Humane.ai pin, a small, discreet device that can be easily attached to clothing. The pin features a miniaturized microphone and speaker, allowing users to communicate with their AI assistant without the need to take out their smartphone or speak loudly in public. The Humane.ai pin is designed to be always on and always listening, so users can access their assistant anytime.

Meanwhile, tech giant Meta is developing its own AI-powered glasses. These glasses feature advanced natural language processing and computer vision capabilities and allow users to access information, communicate with others, and even augment their reality with digital overlays. For example, the glasses can recognize objects and people in the user’s environment, speak to users, and provide relevant information or context, such as the name of a building or the title of a book.

The new AI-powered gadgets represent a significant shift in how we perceive and interact with AI assistants, experts say. Rather than being confined to smartphones or smart speakers, these wearable devices offer a more seamless and intuitive way to communicate with AI. By simply whispering into a smart ring or tapping a pin, users can access a wealth of information and services without the need to physically interact with a device.

Koch said the earliest examples of voice AI are capabilities built into platforms like Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa. And now we’re seeing applications like ChatGPT introduce voice support. 

“However, these interactions always feel awkward because LLMs weren’t really designed for live voice conversations,” he added. “Latency issues make verbal chats feel very unnatural, and AIs are still bad at understanding when a person is finished speaking, distinguishing between multiple speakers, and handling requests that shift midsentence (as humans often do). Solving these problems is the next phase of human/AI communications. The technology will not become commonplace unless these challenges can be overcome.”

Spoken Word Business Advantages

AI gadgets offer benefits not only to consumers but can also provide significant advantages for businesses. AI consultant Joaquin Lippincott told PYMNTS that spoken AI interfaces hold the potential to transform the customer experience and drive inclusivity. First, conversational AI offers customers a faster, more intuitive way of resolving issues and getting help. Instead of navigating complex menus or typing out lengthy queries, customers can simply speak their needs naturally.

Lippincott noted that the spoken aspect of AI interfaces improves accessibility. People with visual impairments, limited dexterity, or simply a preference for voice interaction now have a seamless way to engage with businesses. This inclusive approach expands a company’s reach, fostering customer loyalty among a wider demographic.

Beyond direct customer support, spoken AI can create personalized experiences, Lippincott said. AI-powered voice assistants can learn customer preferences, proactively offer recommendations, and provide tailored guidance throughout the customer journey. This level of personalized service can boost satisfaction and drive brand loyalty. Furthermore, spoken interactions can be analyzed to gain deeper insights into customer needs and pain points, enabling businesses to refine their products and services.

He added, “There’s also potential for new marketing channels, such as targeted audio advertisements or interactive voice experiences.” 

However, Lippincott said there are challenges to address, particularly in providing effective audio feedback loops and sound design to ensure interactions are informative but not intrusive. 

Amir Haramaty, CEO and co-founder of AI speech technology firm aiOla, told PYMNTS that speech AI enables workers in industries like manufacturing, supply chain, shipping and logistics to do more with less. Almost half of all communication in these sectors involves industry-specific jargon and acronyms, which most popular speech solutions aren’t trained to capture. aiOla’s software distinguishes itself through its ability to parse specialized business language from spoken data. It supports over 100 languages and various accents and effectively filters out irrelevant background noise.  

“Eventually, voice-first solutions will become the default for any human-machine interface,” Haramaty said.

“We can anticipate a widespread adoption of speech AI interfaces across various industries in the coming years. This shift will revolutionize manual work, enhancing safety and efficiency while providing businesses with unprecedented data-driven insights previously unattainable due to the lack of speech capture.”