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5 hurdles to Electronic Personal Assistants (EPAs) becoming mainstream

39% of Europeans use an Electronic Personal Assistant (EPA) such as Siri or Alexa, between 1-3 times a week. 

The plan is to bring this type of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into our lives to become a part of our day to day routine, but there are a few roadblocks at present. 

So, if EPAs are to become mainstream, then we must examine why so few people are regularly using it at present. 

Accessibility – Currently 85% of people think that typing is less practical than speaking into their phone. 

In theory this is great news for tech firms who can ensure that their products can be as accessible as possible. This is particularly true of users who want to multitask every waking hour of the day. 

“Hey Siri!” is the first step towards the level of accessibility needed for these devices to become truly integrated within our everyday routines.

Firms should pay attention to this, particularly functionality for users who are driving or using other applications simultaneously. 

Language limitations – Currently the actions that EPAs can conduct through voice commands are fairly rudimentary. 

In order to grow, users will need to be able to conduct fairly complex exchanges to ensure growth of the 18% of people who currently use an EPA daily. 

Until the nuances of language, along with multiple commands can be successfully navigated by the AI, then widespread appeal will be out of reach. 

Trust – currently, only 12% of people would trust using a bot for their online banking. 

Whilst younger audiences are growing up with the tech, older audiences are less willing to accept this as part of their everyday routine. 

In 2015, 65% of all banking with Halifax was online, or via their app. The remaining 35% was largely made up of an older generation.

This demographic either won’t trust a website, or don’t have the means to regularly access the internet in order to conduct their banking online. 

Even if they do, their knowledge of online security is lacking and thus actually puts them at the risk of being defrauded on the platform. 

Whilst this generation is in decline, we can also anticipate mistrust eventually being outweighed by convenience for even the most sceptic of users. 

Privacy – If it is assumed that EPAs have access to all the personal information on your device, in order to make informed decisions for you then this must be secure. 

Users are beginning to be more relaxed with the information they pass over to their devices or service providers, as long as they believe they are getting something worthwhile in return. 

At the time of publication, Amazon had just supplied voice data to aid in a murder investigation. 

This unrestricted recording of our private conversations is unprecedented, whilst often being unknown of by the consumer. 

However, we can expect privacy concerns to come to the forefront of conversations surrounding EPAs, as users wise up whilst development continues.   

Growth of digital natives – this comes part and parcel with the above problems. 

Without a large steady pool of digital natives to be familiar with the programs and to regularly give feedback, then the technology cannot evolve rapidly. 

At present, around 3% of iPhone users have used Siri whilst out in public. We can expect this to change dramatically as it becomes a social normality. 

Read our related blog: What next for the wearables technology market?
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