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"Hey, Security..."

For most of us, they’ve always gone together. The computer monitor, the keyboard, and the mouse. All three have been necessary components to complete tasks quickly and accurately.

But in the future, two of these devices are likely to be used far less as people adopt voice technology at an almost unprecedented rate.

In a recent survey, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) found that 90 percent of people were familiar with voice-enabled products and devices. And of that 90 percent, 72 percent had a voice assistant—particularly younger consumers, and households with children or income of more than $100,000.

Voice assistants are digital assistants that rely on natural language processing, voice recognition, and speech synthesis to function. For instance, Apple’s Siri is a voice assistant that users interact with on their iPhone by saying “Hey, Siri,” and asking her to perform a function for them—like setting an alarm.

“Though the youngest consumers we surveyed (18- to 24-year-olds) are adopting voice technology at a faster rate than their older counterparts, they are statistically more likely to use their voice assistants less,” according to PwC’s Consumer Intelligence Series. “Twenty-five- to forty-nine-year-olds are using them more often and are statistically more likely to be considered ‘heavy’ users.”

These devices using voice technology range from smartphones to tablets to television remotes to wearables, like smart watches. Those surveyed by PwC said voice assistants make it easier to perform normal day-to-day activities—conducting Internet searches or texting friends. But consumers still prefer to manually perform tasks they see as more complex—purchasing products online or talking to a customer service representative.

PwC found, however, that voice assistants help people feel organized (50 percent), informed (45 percent), happy (37 percent), smart (35 percent), confident (31 percent), and free (30 percent). And this is with only a general knowledge of what voice devices and assistants are capable of. 

“…there’s no denying that voice is the future,” PwC explained. “The technology will continue to drive and shift consumer behavior, and companies need to prepare and adjust accordingly. Search, advertising, content, and commerce are being impacted industrywide as consumers transform the way they interact with brands as the result of voice technology.”

Because of this, it’s critical for technology developers to keep the power of voice—and voice search—in mind, wrote Alex Robbio, a Forbes Council contributor and president of Belatrix Software.

“It means shifting from thinking in terms of the customer or user using the software via swiping on their phone or clicking on a mouse to how to go about delivering a seamless experience via voice,” Robbio explained. “It means delivering experiences in a world where immediacy is key. People want to ask a question and receive immediate and insightful information.”

And consumers bring this expectation with them into their workspaces, demanding more efficient use of the technology that’s available to them. The security industry began to see this with the rise of search options based on video analytics. 

For example, Avigilon released Appearance Search in June 2016. It used analytics to sort through hours of footage to locate people or vehicles of interest. End users could click using a mouse on a person in a frame of video and ask the system to pull all other instances where that person was recorded. The product was designed to improve incident response time and enhance investigations. 

“What excites me is that we’re now introducing a true search engine for video,” said Dr. Mahesh Saptharishi, then-Chief Technology Officer (currently CTO for Motorola, which acquired Avigilon in 2018), on the product’s release. “Appearance Search is the first step to provide true video content-based search.”

Now, with the rapid development of voice technology and voice assistants, technology will move towards allowing end users to make verbal search requests of systems—ideally speeding up the search process and eliminating human error.

One company testing this in a pilot program is CodeLynx out of Charleston, South Carolina. After Microsoft released its HoloLens product, a virtual reality headset that provides an augmented reality experience, CodeLynx began developing its Augmented Reality for Integrated Electronic Security (ARIES) platform. 

ARIES creates a wearable heads-up display on the HoloLens that brings video feeds, access control, intrusion, and alert information to users. It also provides security operations centers with a real-time body-worn display of what field units are seeing and interacting with. 

ARIES is also overlaid with natural language processing, so end users can verbally ask it to provide specific information instead of typing a request in via a keyboard or selecting click through options using a mouse.

“In the security space, someone can walk up to a door and say, ‘Show me the last three people to walk through this door,’” says Drew Weston, CPP, director of sales and marketing for CodeLynx and a member of the ASIS International Security and Applied Sciences ad hoc Council. ARIES then conducts a query and will pull the respective footage to show who walked through that door. 

ARIES integrates with AMAG Symmetry and Avigilon for now, and Weston says that its largest adoption is in a pilot program with an unnamed end user. CodeLynx has also seen interest for using ARIES to monitor special events and access control at facilities. 

Right now, the platform only accepts verbal commands in English, but Weston says CodeLynx may add additional languages to its capabilities in the future after the HoloLens 3 is released later this year. 

And his thoughts on the future of tech­nology mirror PwC and Robbio’s sentiments that the keyboard and mouse will fall by the wayside.

“I have a three-year-old and a five-year-old; they won’t understand the idea of using a keyboard and a mouse to interact with a computer in the future,” Weston says. “The idea that you had to sit down and use this arrangement of keys to talk to a computer won’t compute.”​