Linux Foundation Launches Open Voice Network

The Linux Foundation, a nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, has launched Open Voice Network, an open-source association dedicated to advancing open standards that support the adoption of artificial intelligence-enabled voice assistance systems and  guidance on the voice-specific protection of user privacy and data security.

The Open Voice Network will initially be focused on the following areas:

  • Standards development: research and recommendations toward the global standards that will enable user choice, inclusivity, and trust;
  • Industry value and awareness: identification and sharing of conversational AI best practices that are both horizontal and specific to vertical industries, serving as the source of insight and value for voice assistance; and
  • Advocacy: working with and through existing industry associations on relevant regulatory and legislative issues, including data privacy.

"Voice is expected to be a primary interface to the digital world, connecting users to billions of sites, smart environments and AI bots. It is already increasingly being used beyond smart speakers to include applications in automobiles, smartphones and home electronics devices of all types. Key to enabling enterprise adoption of these capabilities and consumer comfort and familiarity is the implementation of open standards," said Mike Dolan, senior vice president and general manager of projects at the Linux Foundation, in a statement. ;"The potential impact of voice on industries including commerce, transportation, healthcare and entertainment is staggering and we're excited to bring it under the open governance model of the Linux foundation to grow the community and pave a way forward."

Founding members of the Open Voice Network include Target, Schwarz Gruppe, Wegmans Food Markets, Microsoft, Veritone, and Deutsche Telekom.

"At Target, we're continuously exploring and embracing new technologies that can help provide joyful, easy and convenient experiences for our guests. We look forward to working with the Open Voice Network community to create global standards and share best practices that will enable businesses to accelerate innovation in this space and better serve consumers," said Joel Crabb, vice president of architecture at Target, in a statement. "The Linux Foundation, with its role in advancing open source for all, is the perfect home for this initiative."

"To speak is human, and voice is rapidly becoming the primary interaction modality between users and their devices and services at home and work. The more devices and services can interact openly and safely with one another, the more value we unlock for consumers and businesses across a wide spectrum of use cases, such as Conversational AI for customer service and commerce," said Ali Dallou, general manager of Microsoft Azure AI, Strategy, & Commercialization, in a statement.

"Voice is transforming the relationships between brands and consumers," said Rolf Schumann, chief digital officer of Schwarz Gruppe, in a statement. "Voice is changing the way we are interacting with our digital devices. For instance, when shopping through our smart home appliances. However, voice includes more information than a fingerprint and can entail data about the emotional state or mental health of a user. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to put data protection standards in place to protect the user's privacy. This is the only way we will contribute to the future of voice."

"Self-regulation of synthetic voice content creation and use, to protect the voice owner as well as establishing trust with the consumer is foundational," said Ryan Steelberg, president and co-founder of Veritone, in a statement. "Having an open network through Open Voice Network for education and global standards is the only way to keep pace with the rate of innovation and demand for influencer marketing. Veritone's MARVEL.ai, a Voice as a Service solution, is proud to partner with Open Voice Network on building the best practices to protect the voice brands we work with across sports, media and entertainment."

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