The blockbuster sci-fi movie “Her” might not be as farfetched as some people thought.
A study of more than a thousand voice technology users found that 26% of them have had a sexual fantasy about a voice assistant, which include the likes of Alexa, Siri, and Cortana. What those sexual fantasies were isn’t clear, but it’s an alarming number of people all the same.
The “Speak Easy” study — based on the responses of over 1,000 UK smartphone owners aged 18+ and 100 Amazon Echo owners — was published on Wednesday by advertising agencies JWT and Mindshare. It’s not clear what percentage of respondents were men and what percentage were women.
The study also found that 37% of voice technology users “love their voice assistant so much that they wish it were a real person.” Clearly some humans are finding themselves very attached to their voice assistants.
The relationship between humans and voice assistants that are powered by artificial intelligence (AI) is poised to become even stronger in the coming years as Silicon Valley tech giants like Amazon, Google, Apple, and Microsoft spend hundreds of millions making their voice assistants as human-like as possible.
Tech companies have a tendency to focus on female voices and names in their personal assistants, possibly in a bid to make them more appealing to young, geeky men.
Voice assistants are expected to start taking on a more prominent role in people’s lives. From managing their diaries to filling their fridges, they’re quickly going to turn into “digital butlers,” according to the JWT and Mindshare study. Almost a third of the survey’s respondents said they are excited by a future where their voice assistants anticipate what they need and takes action or makes suggestions.
Elizabeth Cherian, UK director at JWT’s 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.”