Speech Technology Magazine

Nuance Updates Its Nina Virtual Assistant

The mobile phone app now speaks and understands 38 languages.
By Michele Masterson - Posted Feb 6, 2013
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Nuance Communications first introduced Nina, its virtual assistant for mobile customer service apps, in August, and it has already updated it with support for additional languages and mobile devices.  

With the new release, Nina now understands and speaks 38 languages. And, with Nuance's other speech products supporting 65 languages, more are on the way for Nina.

"The addition of other languages makes Nina the only enterprise virtual assistant technology for mobile applications that can support both global reach for multinational companies as well as provide those capabilities to leaders in regions,"  says Robert Weideman, executive vice president and general manager of Nuance Enterprise.   

Nina Mobile allows companies to add speech-based virtual assistant capabilities to existing Apple iOS and Google Android mobile apps. Nina combines Nuance speech recognition, text-to-speech (TTS), voice biometrics, and natural language understanding (NLU) technology hosted in the cloud to deliver an interactive user experience that not only understands what is said, but also who is saying it.

The new release also expands Nina's existing support for smartphones and tablets, including Apple iPad and iPad Mini and Android tablets running Android 4.1. Nuance also provides an open software development kit (SDK) for Nina that supports the integration of virtual assistant capabilities into existing mobile applications. 

Another key element of Nina is its voice biometrics capabilities, which Wiedeman says will become even more important as companies place a greater emphasis on providing more personalization in their customer interactions.

"The more that you can personalize the virtual assistant capability, the more effective it is as a customer service technology," he says. "If Nina recognizes me as Robert, then for banking or travel applications, you can proactively present information to Robert because I've been pre-authenticated."

"Voice biometrics is also important because people are mobile," Weideman continues. "it's inconvenient to be engaging with the app and typing in serial numbers and passwords. It's far more convenient for someone to say 'My voice is my password.'"

A third element to the voice biometrics capability will be the ability to use one voiceprint across different systems and platforms. "Using our system, a customer can access the bank system through a mobile phone, a tablet device, or calling from a landline into an IVR," Wiedeman explains.

Weideman also envisions using Nina's voice biometrics capabilities in even more channels. "Eventually, as we expand what Nina can do, people [can use it] if they are engaging in customer service in the car ... or on a smart television," he says. "Our enterprise customers want to be able to provide customer service in a way that is consistent and intelligent whatever the channel is." 


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