For example, Microsoft's integration of Cortana into Skype will allow users to chat with their VPA - Cortana will then facilitate the interaction with a third-party bot to get things done, such as a hotel or flight booking.
“We expect AI, machine learning and VPAs to be one of the major strategic battlegrounds from 2017 onwards, and make many mobile apps fade and become sub servants of VPAs,” Zimmermann said.
With a predicted installed base of about seven billion personal devices, 1.3 billion wearables and 5.7 billion other consumer Internet of Things (IoT) endpoints by 2020, Zimmermann said the majority of devices will be designed to function with minimal or zero touch.
By 2020, Gartner predicts that zero-touch UIs will be available on two billion devices and IoT endpoints.
“Interactions will move away from touch screens and will increasingly make use of voice, ambient technology, biometrics, movement and gestures,” Zimmermann added.
“In this situation, apps using contextual information will become a crucial factor in user acceptance, as a voice-driven system's usability increases dramatically according to how much it knows about the user's surrounding environment.
“This is where device vendors' assets or partnerships in VPAs, natural language processing (NLP) and deep machine learning experts will matter.”
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.