Speaking up on the future of education

Pindrop’s Nikolay D. Gaubitch on how voice technology could change the world of teaching

Voice assistants are big news, so much so that 40% of adults are now using voice search once per day. And while it’s not surprising that the likes of Siri and Alexa are becoming so prominent in our personal lives, what might seem less predictable is that, over the next five years, voice assistants will be regularly deployed in the education sector as well.

The potential of voice assistants in education

Recent research from Pindrop into the ‘conversational economy’ has shown that, within the next five years, over half (53%) of customer service conversations within education are planned to be handled by voice assistants or chat bots. Indeed, the sector is already innovating when it comes to voice technology, with the Georgia Institute of Technology introducing a voice assistant as a teaching assistant. ‘Jill Watson’ was used to answer students’ questions at all hours of the day, showing exactly how voice technology could play an increasingly important role in education.

The security of voice technology

But for all its benefits, the deployment of voice assistants must be made with caution. While there’s no disputing the benefits voice technology can bring, the current process of securing these devices raises questions.

The research found that 80% of IT directors are unsure of how to protect the data acquired through voice-based technology. With the education industry intending to make regular use of voice assistants in the near-future, it needs to ensure this method of interaction is as secure as any other. At present, biometric checks can be easily duped by a synthesised voice, while the phone numbers that will be used to intercept virtual assistants can be spoofed. As voice-activated assistants are increasingly utilised, attacks will follow, and organisations need to ensure they’re protecting their information.

Over the next five years, voice assistants will be regularly deployed in the education sector.

Securing your voice

The main security issue facing voice assistants is authenticating the person talking. Standalone voice biometric solutions are not enough to effectively catch this, meaning devices can be accessed by anyone with the know-how to mimic a voice. Technology is available to determining the legitimacy of the person speaking, as well as passively analyse thousands of indicators of fraud by examining the audio data. This means organisations can eliminate the risk of potential security breaches.

With every new piece of technology that enters the market, there is an initial teething period as companies ascertain how best to protect it. While the education sector should be mindful of how they secure their data, they should not let that deter them from exploring the potential uses of the technology.

Voice technology is set to become a large part of our day-to-day work lives and the institutions that embrace it safely are set to benefit.

Nikolay D. Gaubitch is Research Director EMEA at Pindrop.