Highly sophisticated digital assistants driven by voice technology will become commonplace by 2025, according to a thematic research report by GlobalData Technology.

“By 2025 we see a world full of sentient, intelligent and conversational platforms whose main consumers will be members of the 2.3 billion strong Generation Z; a subset of the Millennials who were born ‘digital natives’,” writes the company in the report.

GlobalData projects that voice technology will advance dramatically in the coming years, with brands embracing its value to drive sales and boost customer service.

“By the end of 2018, many branded manufacturers will have introduced a range of ‘conversational’ machines and apps – primarily using voice APIs from Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Baidu, Nuance and iFlytek,” the company writes.

“By 2020, 50% of online search will be conducted by voice, compared to 20% in 2017. Natural language processing (NLP) systems, like the new breed of facial recognition systems, will begin to recognize emotion, and learn to fully engage and have meaningful conversations.”

Ambient commerce to drive voice technology growth

Central to the growing pervasiveness of voice technology is the rise in what is known as ambient commerce.

Emerging at the proof-of-concept from companies such as Amazon – and through startups such as Mishipay – ambient commerce bridges the digital and physical shopping realms.

“The term describes a new form of shopping which makes use of sensors coupled with artificial intelligence to help customers select and pay for their goods without the need for keyboards or cash registers,” explained GlobalData.

The company predicts ambient commerce will fuel a surge in voice technologies, in part because of the potential benefits for brands.

“These voice-enabled digital assistants will have a huge advantage in the ambient commerce market for two reasons: their platforms are gathering vast troves of data on their customer’s preferences by hearing their conversations.”