The Voice Inside Your Headphones

by | Tuesday 26th February 2019

Growth of Wireless and Voice-Enabled Headphones

There is no question that the headphone market will continue to build significant momentum with a range of wireless features to service an expanding consumer base of connected device users. For example, according to SAR, the wireless headphones market will grow to 300 million units by 2024, and at least half of these will have voice assistant features.

A number of wireless headphones and earbuds have opened up new opportunities to leverage the benefits of smart applications and artificial intelligence. In addition, a number of leading manufacturers and technology providers—including Bose, Harmon JBL, Sony, Sonos, Apple, Bragi and Jabra—are either developing, or have released, headphones with voice assistant platforms including Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, IBM Watson and Apple Siri. There will be others as well, building up to various voice assistant activations available to headphone users.

Increased Skills and Services for Expanding Markets

Consumers wearing headphones can now activate their voice controls to play music, change songs, control in-home utilities, deliver discrete communication, search information, translate languages and more. In-ear wearables provides discrete communication. In addition to consumer, a number of enterprise markets are evaluating the use of voice-enabled headphones to support various industries from healthcare and automotive, to manufacturing and the military.

Advancements in Headphones and Embedded Voice AI

While today, digital assistant interaction is reliant on another device such as a smartphone (what SAR Insight defines as voice control enabled), wireless headphones will increasingly add additional functionality and move towards embedded voice control technologies. Engineering developments are moving us to smart headphones and earbuds that preload and natively integrate voice assistants, decoupling voice software from connected devices, including mobile.

In addition, headphones with voice assistant technology are evolving from tapping a button to initiate the voice engine and microphone to hands-free voice assistant activation (through wake word triggers) and/or the ability for users to nod their head or tap their cheek to receive and send voice commands.

The Future Voice Inside Your Head

As AI advances, the voice assistants in your head (OK, ears) will contextually and better adapt to your needs. In fact with physiological data, headphones with AI will be able to collect vital signs, measure emotions and offer up recommendations to adjust symptoms and other behaviors. The utility of voice-enabled headphones is about to get much more interesting, interactive, and intuitive thanks to the development of exciting AI applications.


Contact the author: Dennis Goldenson |

Published: February 27, 2019

Contact the author:

Peter Cooney