Volume Adds IBM Watson-Powered Voice App to Its Website

Volume has launched the Volume Digital Concierge, powered by IBM Watson, which uses Watson's conversations service to allow text-to-speech interaction between humans and smart machines.

The cognitive application, called 'LUSY,' is trained in a single domain. The aim is to provide all the information on the company through natural dialogue and Q&A. Volume's Digital Concierge remembers returning visitors and can engage in chit-chat. The application learns through every interaction and question and only provides an answer when it reaches a level of confidence that this is correct.

"It's a bold move removing our corporate website for an AI application like our Digital Concierge. However, we needed to do this to amass all the questions it was being asked; whether on- or off-topic," said Volume's CEO Chris Sykes in a statement. "Since its soft launch in October, the application has been asked over 16,000 questions. We learn from those and retrain the application, so it can answer more questions accurately and its domain knowledge grows. That's the beauty of Watson-powered applications."

Volume develops its AI-powered applications iteratively through agile software-development methodologies such as SCRUM. At the base layer, it allows humans to have natural language conversations with machines. The next layer of cognitive services to be added will be able to detect the moods of customers and their character insights, which will dictate the type of content served up and its tone. The third layer is image and voice-recognition.

"We have voice and image recognition capabilities right now. The problem we have at the moment is the quality of microphones and cameras in mainstream devices. The majority are not up to the task. For example, most integrated microphones don't have noise canceling, so a spoken conversation can be restricted by ambient noise and busy environments," Sykes said.

Volume sees industry-wide adoption for these applications in the not-too-distant future, from digital concierges to technical advisors, digital sales agents, and smart customer service reps.

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