Voice searches are valuable not solely for the hands-free convenience they offer and the marketing insights they confer, but also for the ability to search for unwieldy text like those dog breed names we all have trouble spelling.
Acquia Labs and Nestlé Purina joined forces to extend Purina.com's site search feature into the realm of voice by providing another way for users to query for content.
Best of all, this functionality isn't tied to a particular device or ecosystem like mobile voice assistants or conversational hardware; it leverages systems already available natively in browsers on both desktop and mobile.
Accessing content by voice, natively
Increasingly, accessing content conversationally either requires a hardware purchase that doesn't come cheap — devices like Google Home, Amazon Echo, or Alexa-enabled speakers — or corners us in a locked box with assistants like Siri or Cortana.
The spread of new devices with their own closed ecosystems points to a worrying trend in conversational content of compartmentalization into walled gardens only accessible to Alexa or Siri users.
Luckily, emerging technologies available natively in the browser through HTML5 allow us to begin examining a more future-ready web where voice-enabled capabilities like speech recognition and dictation are present not only on our smartphone applications but also on the websites we visit every day in our desktop or mobile browsers.
As such, the prospect of accessing content through such open ecosystems and web-based approaches has considerable implications for web accessibility. Users of accessible web technologies like screen readers and refreshable Braille displays will ultimately benefit from findings that favor browser-native technologies rather than closed device ecosystems.
Accessibility will be a key facet of this project as we inspect the impact of browser-native voice capabilities in addition to that of similar voice input features on accessible hardware.
A new way to navigate Purina.com
Search is a logical place to start, but we also believe that voice-enabled search points to tasks beyond the search field, like navigating between web pages or finding direct quotes on the page.
With the advent of better browser-based technologies, voice input is no longer a stronghold of device manufacturers; after all, performing a simple search shouldn't require us to invoke Cortana before switching to Alexa in frustration.
With this partnership between Acquia Labs and Nestlé Purina, we explored what's possible in search and beyond — and how a more open approach to voice technologies can serve as a tide that lifts all boats and enrich the experience for every one of us.
You can check out our voice-enabled search feature in action right now on Purina.com, in your browser on desktop or mobile.
Innovate for omnichannel with Acquia Labs
How can Acquia Labs help your organization achieve its innovation priorities and think beyond? To learn more about working with Labs, contact our sales team and mention Acquia Labs during your conversation. Together, we’ll work on your forward-looking ideas that need the right expertise — just like our innovation partnerships with Digital Services Georgia and Nestlé Purina North America — and map out your digital future.