2004 Speech Solutions Winners

As is it's custom, the speech technology industry recognized 2004's outstanding achievements by companies and individuals at the annual SpeechTEK Conference and Exposition, held last week at the New York Marriott Marquis.

The Speech Solutions Awards are presented to companies in 11 categories for outstanding accomplishments bringing new products and services to the marketplace.  The awards are selected by industry peers in an online poll.

The Top Leaders in Speech are also selected by industry peers and recognize significant contributions and accomplishments by individuals during the year.  The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes an individual whose contributions to the industry have continued over a span of several years.

Best Service Creation and Management solution -This award recognizes the company that offers the most integrated voice application that reduces cost of application development time as well as follow-up cost throughout the lifetime (TCO). Nominations should support the complete life cycle of a voice application including design, development and deployment, but also providing  means for analysis, monitoring and maintenance capabilities of voice applications. 

- Audium is a complete package to build consistent, high quality voice applications, as well as a robust framework to manage the full lifecycle of large multi-application voice projects. In use at the largest enterprises and service bureaus in the world, more VoiceXML applications have been created and deployed worldwide with Audium than any other application package.

Best ASR solution
- The company that has provided the best ASR solution. These solutions/products can be for wireless or wireline, deployed in an enterprise or in a carrier environment. 

- for Nuance 8.5 - Nuance 8.5 is the latest release of the market's leading speech recognition software, optimized for accurate, scalable, and easy-to-deploy voice automation solutions. Nuance-powered voice systems give callers the enjoyment of faster and more efficient phone-based interactions, while giving companies the power to improve customer satisfaction and lower costs. More than 1,000 companies across a broad array of industries, including many of the world's top financial services and insurance companies, telecommunications services providers, utilities, airlines and retailers already use Nuance's speech recognition.

Best TTS solution
- The company that provides the best TTS solutions. These solutions/products can be for wireless or wireline, deployed in an enterprise or a carrier.

- ScanSoft for ScanSoft RealSpeak - RealSpeak is the market-leading solution for converting text into human-sounding synthesized speech. The technology is used for a wide range of applications, including delivering emails for unified messaging systems, providing prompts for interactive voice response (IVR) applications, as well as speech-enabling voice portals, directory assistance and auto-attendant applications. RealSpeak distinguishes itself from other solutions through its quality, port density, and its support for 19 languages on a wide range of hardware and operating systems.

Best verification solution - The company that provides the best verification solutions. These solutions/products can be for wireless or wireline, deployed in an enterprise or in a carrier environment. 

- for Nuance Caller Authentication™ 1.0 - In order to help companies provide their customers with automated and convenient means of access, Nuance offers Nuance Caller Authentication 1.0, a packaged voice authentication application that allows callers to be authenticated with just their voices. Nuance Caller Authentication 1.0 is powered by Nuance Verifier, proven voice authentication software, so companies can be confident that their customers are effectively and securely identified. Since Nuance Caller Authentication 1.0 is a packaged application, deployment has never been faster. In fact, companies can deploy this voice authentication application more than 50% faster than before. And it can leverage a company's existing call center infrastructure, from both touch-tone and speech IVR systems to call center agents.

Best embedded solution - The company that provides the best embedded product.

ScanSoft - for ScanSoft VoCon 3200 - ScanSoft's VoCon 3200 complete rapid programming and scalable deployment solution for adding speech recognition to embedded applications. Ideal for automotive, mobile and PC implementations, its suite of developer tools helps developers create highly accurate and effective speech recognition applications, whether they are expert at Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR), or new to the technology.

Best input device solution - The company that provides the best input devise solutions. This can include noise reduction, echo cancellation, headsets, microphones, etc.

- "Clarity Technologies Inc's One Microphone Solution (OMS) - High Noise Edition software which is embedded into Motorola XTS5000 two-way wireless radios. OMS - High Noise Edition eliminates super high noise from communication devices like phones, wireless devices, etc. The product works so well at eliminating noise that at this year's Indy 500 race, the 2nd, 3rd and 4th place finishing cars all used the CVC software solution for communication."

Best persona/personality - The best use of persona in a speech application. This award will be given to the persona's company.

WesternWireless - Cellular One
- Cellular One (Western Wireless) created a new brand advertising campaign in 2004 which stressed the local, person-to-person heritage of the brand. The existing speech system did not match the new brand imagery, and was not meeting internal expectations in a variety of ways. Voice Partners created a family of four personas that each express the home-town connection valued by Cellular One-and together, create a community of self-service providers. Voice Partners also redesigned the system. As a result of the new persona-driven user interface:

-CTN capture increased by 2.3%
-Average call duration prior to transfer declined by 13%
-10% more customers paid their bill in the IVR, and dollars collected by the IVR icnreased by 5%. Payments completed with operators declined by 21%

Best voice platform/carrier - This award recognizes the company that offers the most compelling voice platform for carriers. Nominations should include depth and breadth of platform deployments, flexibility of deployment options, quality of developer tools and proven success deploying platforms and applications.
- for Intervoice Omvia Voice Framework - With the world's largest installed-base and more than 23,000 systems deployed worldwide, Intervoice offers a flexible, scalable platform, a powerful development environment and comprehensive services and support that generate immediate subscriber uptake and accelerated ROI while controlling capital and operational expenditures. Representative customers include: O2, Rogers Wireless, SBC and Vodafone.

Best voice platform/enterprise - This award recognizes the company that offers the most compelling voice platform for enterprises. Nominations should include depth and breadth of platform deployments, flexibility of deployment options, quality of developer tools and proven success deploying platforms and applications.
- Avaya Interactive Response (IR) empowers some of the largest VoiceXML enterprise applications deployed in the Fortune 500 today*. IR simplifies deployment of next generation VoIP and VoiceXML speech services with "out of the box" support for IP Contact Centers, leading speech technologies from Scansoft and Nuance, extensive open standards integration, and a choice of design and deployment options. *References provided upon request.

Best packaged speech application - This award recognizes the company that offers a packaged application (applications that contain entire VUI, is a real software product, supports open standards, is platform independent, is modular and includes reporting functionality) that reduces the cost of speech deployments, provides ease of use for the enterprise and demonstrates a significant ROI for the enterprise.

Nortel Networks - Nortel Networks' Corporate Directory Dialer (CDD) --a packaged, off-the-shelf software application, delivers a cost-effective way to service valued callers, while reserving operators for more complex inquires. CDD is a fully packaged VXML application, adhering to the VXML 2.0 (Mar 2004) specification, supports VOIP (SIP and H.323) and Circuit switched connectivity in a dedicated or hybrid environment and supports the latest version of multiple industry leading speech and text-to-speech engines including Nuance 8.5 and Nuance Vocalizer 3.0; ScanSoft OSR 3.0 and Speechify 3.0.

Best product making the most impact - This award recognizes a product or service launched since September 2003 that has assisted speech technologies in becoming more pervasive in a company's speech strategy. 

Microsoft SpeechServer
- Microsoft Speech Server 2004, launched in March this year, broke new ground in the speech industry by becoming the first single platform to combine Web technologies, speech-processing services and telephony capabilities. Microsoft Speech Server enables customers to leverage and extend their existing investment in Microsoft technologies such as Windows Server 2003 and Visual Studio .NET 2003. Speech technology delivers true business value to enterprises such as reduced costs and increased return on investment (ROI), increased customer satisfaction, increased employee productivity, and it provides additional revenue generation opportunities.

Top Leaders in Speech - To be recognized as a Top Leader in Speech, the individual should have made a significant contribution to the speech technology industry during the past twelve months. The award seeks to recognize individuals for their business or technical work on behalf of speech technology.

Chuck Berger - Chuck Berger joined Nuance as President and CEO in March 2003. Berger has more than 25 years experience in high technology, and prior to Nuance was President and CEO of Vicinity, Inc., a leading provider of locations-based technology and solutions. He was previously CEO of AdForce, and prior to that was CEO of Radius. Earlier in his career, he held senior executive roles at a range of market-leading companies including Sun Microsystems, Apple Computer, and Rolm. Berger holds a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration from Bucknell University and an MBA from the University of Santa Clara.

Steve Chambers - president of ScanSoft's SpeechWorks division, has long been recognized as one of the top executives in the speech industry, successfully applying his marketing and strategic leadership to a vision for mainstream speech applications. His extraordinary energy and commitment to the company, enterprise customers and industry at large have helped position ScanSoft as the premier provider of speech technologies, applications and solutions.

Eric Giler - Eric R. Giler is president and founder of Brooktrout, Inc., where he has successfully led the company since 1984. He is on the Board of Directors of several companies including Netegrity, Inc., and Onset Technology. Mr. Giler also serves on the National Board of Directors of the American Electronics Association (AeA). In addition, Mr. Giler has served on the board of the Massachusetts Telecommunications Council since its founding, most recently as Chairman. Mr. Giler has delivered keynotes and industry perspectives at shows such as VON, SpeechTEK and ComNet. Topics range from The New Network, bridging the gap between voice and data, how to run a successful business, and other technology and business-related subjects. Mr. Giler holds a bachelor's of science degree from Carnegie-Mellon University and a master's degree in business administration from Harvard Business School.

Larry Heck - Dr. Larry Heck is VP of R&D at Nuance, responsible for Nuance's NLP, ASR, voice authentication, and TTS research and engine development. Dr. Heck received the PhD EE from Georgia Tech in 1991. He then joined the Stanford Research Institute and led several federally funded acoustics & speech programs (NSA, DARPA, CIA). He began working with Nuance in 1995 on the creation of Nuance Verifier(tm). He is on the IEEE Speech Technical Committee and serves on various speech technology boards. He has 6 patents and published 60+ scientific papers.

X.D. Huang - Xuedong (X.D.) Huang is general manager of the Microsoft® .NET Speech Technologies Group and serves on the board of the Speech Application Language Tags (SALT) Forum. In his position at Microsoft Corp., Huang is responsible for the development of the company's .NET Speech technology offering, composed of the .NET Speech platform, the .NET Speech software development kit (SDK), and related .NET Speech components such as speech extensions for Microsoft Internet Explorer browser software and Pocket Internet Explorer. Huang also oversees the activities of the Speech Technology Research groups at Microsoft Research.

Huang joined Microsoft Research as a senior researcher to establish Microsoft's Speech Technology Group in 1993. Before coming to Microsoft, he was on the faculty of Carnegie Mellon University's (CMU's) School of Computer Sciences and directed development efforts for CMU's Sphinx-II speech recognition system. Huang is widely known for his pioneering work in the areas of spoken-language processing. Huang and his team have created core technologies used in a number of Microsoft products, including Office XP and the Windows® XP operating system, and pioneered many of the industrywide SALT initiatives.

Huang is an affiliate professor of electrical engineering at the University of Washington and an honorary professor of computer science at his alma mater, Hunan University. He has published more than 100 journal and conference papers and is a frequent keynote speaker for industry conventions. He has co-authored two books: "Hidden Markov Models for Speech Recognition" (Edinburgh University Press, 1990) and "Spoken Language Processing" (Prentice Hall Inc., 2001). Huang's professional awards include the National Education Commission of China's 1987 Science and Technology Progress Award, the IEEE Signal Processing Society's 1992 Paper Award, and the Allen Newell Research Excellence Medal. Huang holds a doctorate in electrical engineering from the University of Edinburgh, a master's in computer sciences from Tsinghua University, and a bachelor's in computer sciences from Hunan University. Huang is a fellow in the IEEE.

Jim Larson - Dr. James A. Larson is the co-chair of the W3C Voice Browser Working Group, which specifies languages for developing speech applications on the web. He is the author of the book, VoiceXML—Introduction to Developing Speech Applications. Dr. Larson is the manager of Advanced Human Input/Output at Intel Corporation. As an adjunct professor at Portland State University and Oregon Health and Sciences University—Oregon Graduate Institute, Jim teaches courses in speech application development, user-centric design, and human factors. Jim is program chair for SpeechTEK 2004 and SpeechTEK 2005 and writes the Technology Trends column for Speech Technology Magazine. Jim lead the VoiceXML Forum in creating the VoiceXML Developer Certification Test. Jim is the co-chair of the W3C Voice Browser Working Group, which this year published specifications for the following languages for developing speech applications on the web: ·Final Recommendation: VoiceXML 2.0—for writing speech applications that talk and listen to users ·Final Recommendation: Speech Recognition Grammar Specification (SRGS)—for writing grammars that enable speech recognition engines to efficiently and accurately listen for specific words and phrases ·Proposed Recommendation: Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML)—for writing messages to be converted to human-like speech by a speech synthesizer ·Working Draft: VoiceXML 2.1—set of additional functions added to those in VoiceXML 2.0.

Kai-Fu Lee - As corporate vice president of the Natural Interactive Services Division (NISD) at Microsoft Corp., Dr. Kai-Fu Lee is responsible for the development of the technologies and services for making web interaction and navigation simpler and more natural. NISD includes the Speech, Natural Language, Search and Navigation Services, and Search Companion Project groups.

Kai-Fu Lee joined Microsoft in 1998 as the managing director of Microsoft Research, China. Lee is widely known for his pioneering work in the areas of speech recognition, artificial intelligence, 3-D graphics and Internet multimedia. Prior to joining Microsoft, he was the president of Cosmo Software, the Silicon Graphics Inc. (SGI) multimedia software business unit. During his tenure at Cosmo, Lee oversaw the business unit focused on multiplatform Internet 3-D and multimedia software. Before that, he was vice president and general manager of Silicon Graphics' Web products division, responsible for several product lines and the company's corporate Web strategy. Before joining SGI, Lee spent six years at Apple, most recently as vice president of the company's interactive media group, which developed QuickTime, QuickDraw 3D, QuickTime VR and PlainTalk speech technologies.

Prior to his position at Apple, he was an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University, where he developed the world's first speaker-independent continuous speech-recognition system. While at Carnegie Mellon, Lee also developed the world-champion computer program that plays the game "Othello" and defeated the human world champion in 1988.

Lee holds a doctorate in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University and a bachelor's in computer science with highest honors from Columbia University. Kai-Fu Lee is a Fellow of the IEEE.

Mike Phillips - Mike Phillips, chief technology officer at ScanSoft, in instrumental at driving technical innovation and the evolution of speech solutions. With over 20 years in the speech recognition field, Phillips co-founded SpeechWorks and served as Chief Technology Officer and a Director since 1994. He spent seven years as a Research Scientist at the Spoken Language Systems Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, developing a conversational interface between computers and humans. Prior to MIT, he was a speech recognition researcher at Carnegie-Mellon University and Scott Instruments Corporation. Phillips holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University.

Paul Ricci - Paul joined ScanSoft as Chief Executive Officer in September 2000. Previously his career spanned eight years at Xerox Corporation, where he began as President of the Desktop Systems Division, and later led Xerox's efforts in the acquisition of XLConnect and Tektronix' printer division. Mr. Ricci holds a bachelor's and master's degrees in economics from Stanford University.

Manish Sharma - Manish Sharma is a Group Manager in the Advanced Speech Processing Professional Services Group of Nortel Networks. At Nortel Networks, Manish leads the team of speech application designers and developers that deliver turnkey self service solutions. Before joining Nortel Networks, he was Vice President of Advanced Technology Research at T-NETIX and SpeakEZ Inc. responsible for their SpeakEZ Voice Verification product development. Manish was a co-founder of SpeakEZ Inc., a spin-off venture from Rutgers University. Manish holds a doctorate in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Rutgers University, New Jersey. He holds several patents and has published widely in the area of speech processing technology.

Michael Zirngibl - As the current president and CEO of Angel.com, Michael Zirngibl has led the development and marketing of one of the industry's most innovative speech solutions, Angel's web-based IVR creation and management tool. Angel currently serves over 1500 customers, including Reebok, Kellogg's and Virginina International Terminals.

Lifetime Achievement Award - To be recognized for the Lifetime Achievement Award, the individual should have made a significant contribution to the speech technology industry during his/her lifetime. The award seeks to recognize individuals for their business or technical work on behalf of speech technology.

Mike Cohen
- Michael Cohen cofounded Nuance in 1994. He created the Nuance Professional Services team and the Nuance Dialog R&D group, which has been responsible for Nuance's Natural Language Understanding technology and research in voice user interface design. Mike is coauthor of the book "Voice User Interface Design", published in January 2004 by Addison Wesley.

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