• February 10, 2013
  • By Leonard Klie Editor, Speech Technology and CRM magazines
  • FYI

Clearing Up the Hype Around Hypervoice

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When it comes to voice technologies, what you say and what you do will be more closely linked in the future.

That's because hypervoice, an emerging model for organizing and navigating conversational data by transforming voice components into native Web objects and breaking them down into smaller bits of audio that can be searched, shared, and secured independently, is rapidly picking up steam.

In fact, the Hypervoice Consortium, which advances hypervoice standards and applications, launched in December under the guidance of Martin Geddes, a telecom expert and futurist. Telefonica Digital, HarQen, and Voxeo Labs have joined Geddes as charter members of the organization.

With hypervoice, users can link, tag, and share small parts of their conversations as easily as they can share text. One of the primary benefits of hypervoice is the ability to share quick highlights from a conversation with stakeholders not on an original call.

"Hypervoice links what we say to what we do, creating a unified activity stream of everything we say and do," Geddes says.

It does this by creating metadata for recorded voice files that are part of the digital interactions people have while speaking and listening to each other. The solution doesn't use voice recognition or a phoneme system.

"Instead, we assume that the significance of what we say is best captured by our actions—the notes we take, the customer records we modify, the slides we share, the tags we annotate the audio with, and the agenda items we advance through," Geddes explains.

"These interactions with digital objects—all the gestures and responses—can then be used as data to make voice conversations truly searchable, shareable, and syndicated."

This allows someone, for example, to subscribe to all of the shared conversations that are relevant to the accounts he manages. The metadata allows him to navigate to potentially important parts of those conversations, Geddes points out.

"The ability to annotate audio conversations provides tremendous business value, as people can now discover the information shared in meetings and, more importantly, take action on it without losing the context in which it was shared," said Alan Lepofsky, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research, in a statement.

Another early hypervoice evangelist is Jason Goecke, president and CEO of Voxeo Labs. Voxeo Labs is working to provide operators with hypervoice-enabled applications on the Ameche communications platform-as-a-service, which will enable carriers to embrace hypervoice fully as a key innovation, according to Goecke.

In October, HarQen showcased the first hypervoice application at Oracle OpenWorld. HarQen added hypervoice conversations as a service to Oracle Social Network, enabling collaborators to go from typing to talking, and then capturing their conversations, with just a click. And with HarQen-enabled CallMe functionality, users could join, interact with, and review conversations directly from within the activity stream.

Oracle Sales and Marketing Cloud Service users will be able to capture important sales calls, using their notes as the natural markup of the audio being recorded. In addition, hypervoice will help trace crucial agreements back to the point of decision. For example, users will be able to find and listen to the exact point in time when parties reached agreement during a contract negotiation.

"Hypervoice conversations hold the promise of enabling a whole new paradigm for human communications," said E. Kelly Fitzsimmons, cofounder of HarQen, at the time of its release. "We are eager to partner with others via the consortium to help ensure the richness of future applications."

"We are excited to support this initiative both because it extends the reach of voice and because it makes working globally ever so much easier," said Tracy Isacke, head of the Silicon Valley office of Telefonica Digital, in a statement. "Being part of a leading telecommunications company that operates around the globe, this innovation will help us internally and externally."

"Given the importance of linking what we say to what we do, ultimately hypervoice conversations will replace telephony in the enterprise," Geddes predicts.

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