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Rebecca Zisser / Axios

Image and voice recognition technologies are becoming so sophisticated that experts predict both technologies could replace typing, at least in part, when it comes to communication and search. Michael Levine of Photon, one of the largest internet technology consulting companies, says these changes are happening quickly:

Something like texting, that people thought was simple and easy, is eventually going to cause friction.

Why it matters: Few people type the way they speak or the way they use images to communicate, which means that web publishers will have to manage their SEO strategies to accommodate picture and voice-related search queries. As these technologies advance, consumers will also have to learn how to interact with them more fluidly or "learn how to speak to robots." From a business perspective, voice and pictures can be easier to analyze for personalization than text, creating smarter sales and customer service experiences.

  • Voice: The use of voice-activated digital assistant devices will grow almost 130% this year, according to eMarketer. Google predicts that use of these technologies will cause more than half of queries to be voice search by 2020. For news publishers specifically, Voicelabs found that 25% of Amazon Alexa users use voice to learn about news.
  • Images: Image-based platforms, like Snapchat filters and Google Lens, use machine learning or real-time, user-generated images that can replace typing locations, temperatures, store hours or other details. Advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence are also making it possible for apps and websites to infer information about images and show relevant details without users having to type to search for more info.

Driving the change: Amazon controls 70% of the voice-enabled speaker device market, while Snapchat Lenses and Facebook Stories are expected to drive the majority of market adaptation on the image side, per eMarketer. Today, only about 12% of the U.S .population engages with some form of AR content, but new companies like Vuforia are being developed to integrate AR into more consumer apps.

What's next? Nearly 70% of voice requests are natural/conversational language, per Mary Meeker's latest tech trends report. New technologies, like Twilio's natural language understanding software are learning how to analyze intent during any voice call, which will make it easier for humans and voice-powered robots to have more authentic conversations. On the image side, a new app called Project Chalk debuted last week that will let users draw on top of live video chats through augmented reality, which could partially replace chat bot interfaces for interactions like customer service.

Go deeper

The hard math behind America's labor shortage

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Congressional Budget Office; Chart: Axios Visuals

Yes, the pandemic has created unusual temporary labor market dynamics. But in the bigger picture, the 2010s were a golden age for companies seeking cheap labor. The 2020s are not.

The big picture: In the 2010s, the massive millennial generation was entering the workforce, the massive baby bo0m generation was still hard at work, and there was a multi-year hangover from the deep recession caused by the global financial crisis.

Advocates fret Roe v. Wade's 49th anniversary could be its last

Photo: Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Women's March Inc

As Saturday marks the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court's landmark decision that legalized abortion access in the U.S., advocates warn the ruling is "more at risk now than ever."

The big picture: The Supreme Court in December heard a challenge to a Mississippi 15-week abortion ban that could throw Roe's survival into question, or at least narrow its scope.

Updated 11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker

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