Expedia chiefs tip impact of voice to be ‘as big as the iPhone’

Expedia chiefs tip impact of voice to be ‘as big as the iPhone’

Voice-activated internet and virtual reality could be set for the sort of explosive change seen in mobile, according to the Brand Expedia Group president.

Demonstrating the latest virtual reality technology at last week’s Expedia Partner Conference in Las Vegas Aman Bhutani predicted a move away from screen interfaces.

He said innovations such as Google Siri and Amazon Alexa voice search on its Echo speaker device, pointed to a “hands-free” travel search and booking future.

And Bhutani said it won’t be long before everyone can turn their living room into a virtual reality set.

“Within five years we will see a huge amount of voice. Because of our ability to understand natural language, it’s going to grow exponentially,” he said.

Bhutani said technology often goes through gradual growth before a sudden spurt, but Expedia plans to invest before that happens.

“Not every technology will go down the sudden path, but if it does, it’s going to go very quickly and by that time it’s too late.

“Although we do not know which technology is going to win, our commitment, as part of travel’s ecosystem, is to bring you the very best technology.”

Expedia chairman Barry Diller predicted voice technology would be “as big as the iPhone” in how it changes consumer habits.

Diller is also chairman of IAC, which bought Expedia in 2001 before spinning it off in 2005. He said: “Voice technology is in its infancy, but I think it’s going to power so much activity.

“It’s both an opportunity and a danger in that it will be another disintermediation factor. Voice, I believe, will be the next technology frontier.”

Diller urged firms of all sizes to experiment now with voice before it is too late.

“There will be plenty of winners. Creative disruption happens when things change – as some things get destroyed, new things are created.

“As a consumer, voice technology is an extraordinary development.”

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