Getting to Yes, And

Sound of the Future


Tobias Dengel

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Kelly talks to tech entrepreneur Tobias Dengel about his new book "Sound of the Future: The Coming Age of Voice Technology."

I think the most fascinating insight I gleaned from your new book is that the reason audio is such a powerful medium of communication is because of its speed.

“One big issue with Alexa and Siri is that they are really based on voice to voice communications, and it kind of misses the point of what makes voice so powerful. When Alexa and Siri hit, I got really interested in why there was this huge uptake. Why did everyone want to use these things? It became apparent very quickly. It's because it's faster, right? We speak 3 times to 5 times as fast as we can type. You drive down the road and you see everyone talking to their devices, or even walking on the sidewalk. What people don't want to do is listen to devices, not just because we, as humans, generally aren't good at listening. But even more so, it's just slower.”

Can you give us an example?

"The example I always give is ordering movie tickets, right? We want to ask Alexa and Siri, ‘What's playing tonight at my local theater?’ We do not want to listen to Alex and Siri give us 4 movies with 3 show times each. That's movie phone, and you and I experienced that 30 years ago. That's not awesome. But if we can ask our app, ‘Hey? What movies are showing tonight?’ And we see it on the app, and then we say, ‘Alright, get me 2 tickets at 8 o'clock for Star Wars,’ that's a breakthrough. It takes something that's 2 to 3 min now on an app, and you can do it in 10 or 20 seconds. That changes the world. As soon as you can cut 90% of the time out of any human activity, everyone's going to gravitate towards that.”

So, the future isn’t smart speakers?

“I think one of the most interesting things about the whole paradigm right now is that it is backwards - because the devices which we call smart speakers, we don't want to listen to them. They should be called smart mics. So, the whole thing is upside down right now. In the next year, it's going to be broken. But I'm glad we're doing this podcast right now, cause Andreessen Horowitz, just made one of their big predictions for 2024 and that is that every App is going to be voice first.”


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