There are three developments that could yield a near-term lift in speech technology investments. One is in ramp-up mode, another has recently become commercially available, and the other is already succeeding among early enterprise adopters.
With the surge in smartphone use, there's mounting interest in effectively using speech technology in multimodal and cross-channel environments. However, to produce viable commercial applications, this development requires voice user interface (VUI) and graphical user interface (GUI) designers to work together and create fully integrated applications. Of the two, VUI designers should play a larger role in the design and development of these applications. In the column "VUI Designers Know Cross-Channel Design," Susan Hura posits that VUI designers have "years of experience designing for the same context in which mobile apps are used." It's a valid point—one that, if followed, will likely save a lot of time, resources, and frustration on these projects.
The second development, largely inspired by Apple's Siri application, involves the creation of voice-enabled virtual assistants for the enterprise. Enter Nuance Communications' Nina, Angel's Lexee, and Taptera's Sophia—all of which became available in the second half of this year. Unlike Siri, these virtual assistants are designed for business purposes. Learn more about these virtual assistants by reading our cover story, "Siri-ous Influence: Enterprise Virtual Assistants Have Arrived," by contributing writer Judith Aquino.
The third development is probably the least hyped of the three, but is furthest along in enterprise adoption. Voice biometrics is quietly amassing a lot of interest and investments. More contact center executives are learning they can use this technology to cut down on the cumbersome and costly customer verification process over the phone. In fact, according to the feature story "Your Voice Is Your Password," by Staff Writer Michele Masterson, one telecom company created voiceprints for 4 million customers and shaved off, on average, 20 seconds per call. That's a lot of time and money saved. And, it improves the customer experience.
Interest in voice biometrics is not limited to the telecom market. "Compared to a few years ago or even a year ago, the amount of interest across so many verticals has doubled or tripled," says one industry professional in the story.
Already, Nuance Communications and VoiceVault alone have created roughly 46 million voiceprints for clients. We couldn't get the total number of voiceprints created for verification purposes at press time (probably because the market is so new that analysts aren't tracking it yet), but it's likely much higher after including voiceprints from Agnitio, VoiceTrust, STC/SpeechPro, CSIdentity, and Fujitsu.
There you have it—three burgeoning trends in speech technology. As you get ready for 2013, keep reading Speech Technology magazine for our continued coverage of these and other trends.