Could Siri start selling to you? Maybe so, if Nuance has its way: the company has launched Voice Ads, a system of dynamically injecting spoken promotions into digital personal assistant services like Apple's Siri. Aiming to make commercials more engaging - and thus increase the number of people who actually act on them - the first iteration of Voice Ads will see promotional content on smartphones and tablets invite users to speak to them, with an ensuing conversation including a sales message.
Because the Voice Ad is showing up on a mobile device, Nuance can offer more granular control over when, and where, it's visible. That can include GPS positioning, so that advertisers know when you're near, say, a store where you can buy their product. Nuance also uses automatic volume and microphone sensitivity, so that the ad still works even in areas of high background noise.
Nuance's example is somewhat basic: the company has created a Magic 8 Ball app which tags on an advert for deodorant at the end. At the moment, it all feels a little stilted and artificial, though the speech recognition works well.
Nuance Voice Ads demo:
We're probably still some way off from having Siri and other spoken assistant systems throw in a sales pitch for popcorn when they help us find the nearest movie theater, though Nuance says that there's already significant interest from ad networks in the Voice Ads technology. It's unclear when we can expect the first Voice Ads to turn up in the wild.