How voice search could solve the generational digital divide

by | Dec 19, 2019 | Public Relations

Tech-savvy millennials and Gen Zers clearly have the edge over their older brethren when it comes to digital acuity, but voice search is well poised to benefit older users who may struggle to type or use a mouse—and new research from business news and how-to site The Manifest indicates how this technology can help bridge the digital divide.

“The way we engage with most technology is tactile and visual,” said Matt Smith, CEO of Speak 2 Software, a company that offers voice-enabled smart speakers to assisted living centers for seniors, in a news release. “These are challenges for someone losing their sight or motor skills … With voice technology, the user interface is now manageable and easy to adopt.”

More than half (64 percent) of voice technology users ages 55+ use voice to search for information, products, and services online, compared to slightly fewer users ages 34-54 (63 percent) and only 47 percent of users ages 18-34.

How voice search could solve the generational digital divide

Voice tech reduces the obstacles that once stood in the way of older generations’ ability to use technology and can improve their quality of life.

Voice search users interact with technology regularly

More than half (53 percent) of people who use voice search use the technology at least once a week, suggesting that once users get used to this new form of searching, they’re likely to keep coming back to it.

Voice-enabled technology represents the future of how internet users will search for information and interact with their digital devices.

John Foster, CEO of Aiqudo, an AI startup based in Calif., believes that in 2020, even more people will start to use voice search as the technology improves. “I think by the end of 2020, we will have seen that tipping point where more searches are done with voice than [text-based queries],” Foster said, in a news release. “Once it happens, people won’t go back.”

How voice search could solve the generational digital divide

Younger voice tech users more likely to issue commands

Younger voice technology users ages 18-34 are more likely to use voice technology for things other than searching for information. Thirty percent of those ages 18-34 use voice technology to give commands (i.e., set alarm) compared to only 19 percent of voice tech users ages 35-54 and 16 percent ages 55+.

How voice search could solve the generational digital divide

Experts, however, think that more people will begin using voice technology to tell their device to “do” something as technology improves.

“I think we’ll start to see a lot more applications around what Google would call ‘Go’ and ‘Do’ moments,” said Matthew Lang, strategy director at Rain Agency, a creative strategy agency in New York, in the release. “Things that are a little bit more sophisticated, whether it’s picking up something at the grocery store, placing an order on the go, or giving commands.”

Read the full survey report here.

The Manifest surveyed 501 U.S. voice technology and search users.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter