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Intelligence Briefs

Let’s talk: Innovative voice tech to fight loneliness

Industry Contributor

Dr. Joan Palmiter Bajorek, Head of Conversational Research and Strategy

1 July 2020 4min read

Voice technology can be a lifesaving tool- and that’s not a hyperbole (BBC, 2020). Loneliness is lethal and worse for you than obesity and smoking, according to research (2017). During times of turmoil and quarantines, feelings of isolation can increase. How can voice technology help us live better, healthier lives?

Key points:

  • COVID can exacerbate loneliness and technology can be used for good to help people.
  • Loneliness is really dangerous and can be a bigger health risk than smoking or obesity (Forbes, 2017).
  • Voice technology is an innovative tool that can prevent loneliness, connect people, and get them talking (BBC, 2020).

My Takeout

Imagine that amazing feeling that comes from a deep personal conversation. Can we use voice technology to help us live better, healthier lives?

Human connection is physically and emotionally powerful. Worse than smoking or unhealthy body weight, research indicates loneliness can increase mortality rates 30-60%. Loneliness is comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

That’s right, loneliness can be lethal. In a world where technology can be harnessed for good, voice tech is being proposed as a solution to improve mental and physical health. 

Voice technology can be a life saving tool.

Distance is now the norm. As quarantine is mandated across the globe, many can no longer see friends, family, and co-workers in the ways we previously did. While lifesaving measures prevent the spread of the pandemic in Australia and internationally, they can also exacerbate feelings of isolation. Instead of in-person meetings, dinners, happy hours, tech events, and family gatherings, more people are confined to home spaces, finding ourselves in front of screens perpetually, and strings of endless video calls.

Voice tech can help people feel more connected. 

Could a voice assistant reminder for grandma to take her meds be helpful? Marvee

Could processing feelings aloud be helpful to process this chaotic time? SignalActionAI

Could a soundscape behind reading books aloud to children help engage young readers when school is exclusively at home? Novel Effect

Could screenless tech help decrease your screen time? 


Is AI a total replacement for social interaction? Definitely not. Instead, technology is an augmentation and savvy option in our tool kit. MIT Professor Turkle’s TED Talk and subsequent book “Alone Together” warns that tech is not a substitute for social interaction. Yet there are many ways voice tech might bring more connection, calm, joy, and organisation to our lives.

Let's get talking and harness the innovative power of voice tech to help us through this time, and beyond.

Let’s go. What do you think?

Industry Contributor

Dr. Joan Palmiter Bajorek, Head of Conversational Research and Strategy

Dr. Joan Palmiter Bajorek is the Head of Conversational Research and Strategy at VERSA and the CEO and Founder of Women in Voice, the international organization empowering women and gender diversity in voice tech.