Voice Technology in Warehouses
Only a week ago I was watching the movie Ironman on television. The billionaire entrepreneur Tony Stark was down in his lab building and modifying his new Ironman suit. As his aides, Tony had a host of machines that he commanded and told what to do using nothing but his voice. As I watched this I thought to myself, this is more Hollywood fantasy, technology hasn’t come this far. However upon thinking about this, I realized we weren’t that far away and that voice technology is something we are embracing more and more. You don’t have to look past your iPhone equipped with Siri or Samsung using S voice to see that speaking to machines is not confined to a Hollywood studio. Upon looking into this more, I discovered that voice technology isn’t just used occasionally in phones to find the nearest restaurant, but instead is incorporated in the running of entire factories and vastly improves productivity through the use of applications such as Wavelink Speakeasy.
The application Speakeasy by Wavelink allows pickers in large warehouses to know where to go, how much of which item to pick and where to take it. Traditionally, pickers would carry around a piece of paper with the items required for picking written upon it and would have to attempt to drive a forklift whilst not losing their place on the paper. Once finished, a picker would have to individually mark off the items they have picked. Already from this it becomes evident that the picker does not have his hands free throughout this process and it becomes very easy for them to lose their place or make a mistake as well as even on occasion hit something whilst reading where to go. For this reason, Wavelink’s Speakeasy voice technology has been implemented into some warehouses with great all round success
With this technology, all pickers wear a headset and have a small computer screen with a barcode reader attached to their forearm thus leaving both hands free for driving the forklift and picking up items. In the headset, they can choose the language they want the voice to speak in and they will be able to interact with it making it much easier to multitask and thus improving efficiency. The Speakeasy application will inform the picker of where they need to go to get the next item via a voice in the earpiece. The picker has many options such as asking to hear the location again, asking to speak slower or louder and so forth. Once at the location, the picker will then scan a barcode and Speakeasy will confirm whether or not they are at the right location, thus eliminating any error of picking the wrong item. It will then tell them how much of the item they should pick. Once the picker has successfully loaded these onto the forklift, a process that is made easier by the fact that they aren’t holding around a paper and pen, they will simply ask for the next item. Upon reaching the final item, Speakeasy will inform them that they have picked everything in this batch and tell them where to deliver it to.
The use of voice technology is something we are embracing more as improvements to it are made. With the progression of technology, machines are able to understand language with a greater degree of accuracy making voice technology a viable option for the future. As more people turn towards voice technology, we will see greater improvements and innovations made in this field. Who knows, one day in the future you may be having a deep philosophical discussion with your television – only time will tell.