The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has recently cited two studies that investigate these allegations, which have discovered that ‘both women and men find the female voice welcoming and warm,’ reports Joanna Stern with WSJ. One study from Indian University played male and female synthesized voices for both men and women. Both groups reported that the female voices sounded ‘warmer’.
The second study, from Stanford University, found people do prefer male voices – but only when it is used to teach them about computers.Computerized Female voices were only wanted when it came to giving love and relationship advice.
The study, conducted by advertising agency JWT (J. Walter Thompson) and marketing company Mindshare, surveyed more than 1,000 UK smartphone owners aged 18 and over, as well as 100 Amazon Echo owners. It conducted a neuroscience experiment that found that the emotional response to voice assistants is considerably lower than for both a face-to-face human interaction and a touch or text interface, and this is likely to be a function of their current lack of complex personalities.
However, they found that the emotional response to Amazon’s Alexa (AI) grew during the course of the experiment as people became more comfortable using it – indicating the potential for a closer relationship.
Elizabeth Cherian, the UK Director for, J. Walter Thompson Innovation Group, said in a statement: ‘We are on the cusp of a new era in technology where voice is set to become mainstream. ‘Our research shows that 88% of UK smartphone users have used voice technology or would consider doing so in the future.
‘To successfully integrate voice into their offerings, brands need to understand how the technology can simplify everyday tasks by adding value and removing friction from their experience.‘This is not about tech for tech’s sake. ‘Thoughtful and helpful interactions which genuinely enhance the experience will drive engagement and deeper relationships between consumers and brands.’
A quarter of voice technology users say they’ve had a sexual fantasy about their voice assistant, a new study has revealed. Even more users, 37 per cent, say that they love their voice assistant so much that they wish it were a real person. The findings could have an impact on how brands such as Google and Amazon design their voice technologies for human interaction.
The survey indicated that voice assistant are becoming increasingly popular: It said that according to Google, 20 per cent of mobile searches on Android are by voice.
Amazon has sold 11 million echoes and Google launched its own AI assistant, Google Home, in the UK today. According to the study, the current voice control landscape is dominated by Amazon, Google and Apple. Facebook also has its own assistant, M, but it’s currently only text-based and focused around Messenger. Samsung launched its voice assistant Bixby for the Galaxy S8 in March, and Microsoft has developed Cortana, which works across Windows platforms.
The most popular reason people use voice assistants is for convenience, with 55 percent of respondents citing this as a reason. 45 percent of respondents said they choose to use voice control because ‘it’s fun’. When considering that voice assistant usage is skewed towards private spaces – especially the home, perhaps it’s not surprising that so many users have sexual fantasies about their virtual assistants.
Interestingly, tech companies that design these devices tend to give them female voices.Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant all have a female voice. Other than Apple adding the option of a male voice for Siri’s British English version, all of the technology on the market speaks with a softer tone.
Although some consider this move an act of sexism, two studies cited by the Wall Street Journal have revealed that both men and women preferred female voices – which were found to be ‘warmer’ and ‘understanding’. Some other key findings from the study include that 52 per cent of smartphone users believe ‘it would be easier if technology could speak back to me’.
72 percent of regular voice assistant users think brands should have unique voices and personalities for their apps, instead of simply using a default assistant.