Who Is Talking About Speech?

Now that my responsibilities with SpeechTEK have ended, I want to take the opportunity to talk about four other conferences I attended in the September/October time frame, and one conference scheduled for January. These conferences only begin to suggest how widespread interest in speech and voice technology has become.

AVIOS '98 was the 17th annual conference organized by the American Voice Input/Output Society. It is one of the oldest conferences in the industry. AVIOS has traditionally focused on application-oriented research, positioning itself between the commercial conferences (e.g., SpeechTEK) and the engineering conferences (e.g., ICASSP). Following tradition, AVIOS began each day of sessions with a feature address dealing with a specific topic: natural interfaces, human factors, and call centers. There was also more participation by vendors than in the past and more extensive coverage of speaker verification.
Banking on Biometrics '98
This is the second conference on biometrics organized by the publishers of Biometric Digest. It is the only biometric conference designed exclusively for the financial services industry and covers all forms of commercial biometrics, including voice. The one and a half-day conference began with a keynote by Dr. James Wayman of the National Biometric Test Center, who discussed 10 frequently-asked questions about biometrics, such as " Is it foolproof?" and "What are the air rates?" Other speakers covered biometrics and the law, standards, latest trends in specific biometric areas (I chaired the panel on speaker verification), and deployed applications in financial services.
42nd Annual Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society

This conference presents scholarly and application-oriented research on human factors and ergonomics. It is large, with more than 100 sessions covering a broad spectrum of topics. Coverage of speech is small but growing. One panel dealt explicitly with usability of speech recognition in IVR systems and there was one paper in a session on aging that covered speech recognition use in automobiles.
VOICE Europe 98

The VOICE Europe conference is organized by Advanstar UK.It focuses on advanced technology in computer-telephone integration and call centers and it is one of the largest conferences in the industry. I helped organize (and participated in) the 3rd Symposium on Speech Technologies, a two-day mini-conference that is held in conjunction with VOICE Europe. The Symposium presents application-oriented R&D, issues, and market trends in speech recognition, speaker verification, synthesis, and compression. One of the highlights is the final session of the first day which allows symposium attendees to ask questions of a panel populated by all the day-one speakers.
The 1999 International Consumer Electronics Show

This show is open to retailers, manufacturers, financial analysts, buyers, and other professionals involved in the consumer-electronics industry. In 1998, over 90,000 attendees attended 80+ sessions at CES and visited the more than 1,800 exhibits. The January 1999 show will contain two firsts for CES shows: a Speech Pavilion in the exhibit hall (sponsored by Speech Technology Magazine) and a session on speech recognition, which I will moderate.

Judith Markowitz is president of J. Markowitz Consultants and can be reached at 773-769-9243, by fax at 773-769-9253 or by e mail at jmarkowitz@pobox.com.

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