We have had the Internet Generation (iGen), and Mobile Generation (Gen Z), i.e. kids who always had a smartphone within reach. I believe we are starting to see the beginnings of a new generation, at least from a technology perspective. Remember the first time you saw a child trying to swipe or pinch on a monitor, device or even a magazine? While at first it was cute or even hilarious, you quickly realize that such actions have become a standard requirement when it comes to the user interface (UI) and the user experience (UX).

I predict the next step is what I would call the Semantic Generation, consumers who will look for products and services that can innately understand the meaning of their words and requests without a great deal or no explanation of intent — often powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Of course, many of us, not just younger consumers, will develop or have developed similar expectations already, but younger consumers are the ones who will have grown up expecting that services and transactions can be accessed in this manner. To many, it will be the only way they know to conduct business, order products, and even interact with their household appliances — and not some outlier or new innovation.

The “Invisible UI”

The new way to interact with technology is voice, and we’ve seen this happen with Alexa, Siri, Google and other voice-command driven devices on the market. I have already heard stories about young kids interacting with these voice assistants — setting timers, asking for facts and even talking with other technology systems, and being surprised that they don’t respond in a similar way. The new GoPros are all voice-activated, and I really like how I can command my Apple TV to go back 30 seconds after my wife interrupted me during Westworld.

Our head of Cognitive Experience Christopher Reardon refers to this design as an “Invisible UI.”

Generally, these systems are all “command-based,” i.e. a single request with an associated action versus dialogue-based with clarifying questions or subsequent direction where context is maintained and used as part of the dialogue. Imagine having a dialogue with a virtual cognitive agent like Amelia while commuting to work:

Allan: Amelia, I know I have a meeting at 9 am in the 10th floor conference room, can you check if we can move that to the 17th floor?

Amelia: Sorry, Allan the 17th floor conference room is booked, but the one on 15th floor is available, would you like that one?

Allan: Yes, please, and I am going to be five minutes late, so can you start the conference call and let everybody know that I will join as soon as I can?

Amelia: Sure, I can do that. Anything else I can help you with?

Allan: Nope.

The Semantic Generation will take these interactions for granted. Besides verbally communicating with microwaves, cars and cameras, they will expect to have a dialogue with their brands, information kiosks, online services and whenever they are interacting with systems. This will be true for this generation’s home and work lives, which is another reason why we see Amelia, who comes embedded as the interactive cognitive front-end in our 1Desk IT operations and shared services platform, as a game-changer when it comes to improving the employee experience (EX).

Given the emergence of the Semantic Generation, how would you design a new service or application if you knew you would be using conversational interfaces to interact with your users?

Our Amelia customers have been adding conversational interfaces to their existing applications and services for years now, and have achieved great success for a multitude of use cases. However, I’d like to propose this question to our readers:

Given the emergence of the Semantic Generation, how would you design a new service or application if you knew you would be using conversational interfaces to interact with your users? What if you were adding, depending on your use cases and business, other advanced technologies to the mix, i.e. real-time predictive analytics, IoT sensors, drones, etc.?

These are the kinds of questions that we enjoy exploring with our clients and partners as we engage with them on the possibilities for Amelia and 1Desk within their organizations. The emerging Semantic Generation should be top-of-mind in these discussions, and it’s a topic we will continue to explore. And we would welcome readers’ thoughts, opinions and feedback on the topic.