The 2016 Speech Industry Star Performers: Interactions

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Interactions Offers Affordable, Self-Learning ASR and TTS

After doubling its business between 2014 and 2015, Interactions is seeing strong growth again as the result of continued development of the AT&T Watson technology the company acquired in 2014, powering the company’s business and making Interactions a 2016 Star Performer award winner.

AT&T and Interactions agreed that the Watson technology had greater potential, but it wasn’t going to be realized under the previous license arrangement.

“Part of what we wanted to do was extend the use of the platform,” says Jane Price, Interactions vice president of marketing. “The relationship we had would not have allowed us to go further with the technology. We’ve been able to extend the usage of the [AT&T] Watson Platform, now [called] the Curo Speech and Language Platform.”

Curo Speech, which was launched in June, is an automatic speech recognition (ASR) and text-to-speech (TTS) solution that incorporates neural networks and deep learning to modernize customer care interactions.

The solution enables enterprises to incorporate U.S. English and North American Spanish speech into their voice-based customer service channels, providing a direct path to multichannel and enhanced care offerings to support customer interactions.

Curo Speech supports speech recognition grammar specification (SRGS), speech synthesis markup language (SSML), and Voice XML and integrates with monitoring technology from Genesys, Avaya, and other Interactions partners.

What separates Curo Speech from competitors’ offerings, according to Mary McKenna, Interactions director of product management, is its ability to provide ASR and TTS on a single platform rather than as a la carte offerings. The product is designed to push speech recognition and TTS deeper into the enterprise and into consumer markets.

“Speech recognition is not as pervasive as you might think,” says David Thomson, Interactions vice president of speech research. “The capabilities have been limited, but it’s getting more human-like and taking over roles that you’ve previously needed a human for. The big thing that has changed is the accuracy.” Because of its neural networks and deep learning, the technology continues to evolve and improve.

“Now we’re able to do more than just transcribe speech, now we are able to understand deeper meaning,” Thomson says.

McKenna adds that Curo Speech is being offered at a lower price than competitors’ products. The application is available for purchase both directly from Interactions and through its partner network of systems integrators.

Subscription and perpetual pricing models give the Curo Speech purchaser the option of accounting for the purchase as an operating (subscription) or capital (perpetual) expense.

Interactions has a road map for adding other languages to Curo Speech, McKenna says. However, the direction the map will take—the order in which the other languages will be introduced—is unknown, because it will be dictated by client demand. McKenna did say that Curo Speech will include a number of new languages in 2017.

Along with additional languages, the company expects to add chat and text-based communications to the Curo Speech application in the near future.

Though the privately held company won’t make specific predictions on sales expectations, McKenna says that many customers had asked for the alpha and beta versions of the product, so she expects sales of the final product to be strong.

The Curo Speech introduction followed earlier technology advancements in 2016 through partnerships with Calabrio, on speech analytics, and with Arise, on a personal assistant.

The integration of Calabrio’s phonetics engine and Interactions’ Call Transcription using large vocabulary continuous speech recognition is designed to provide context around a customer’s experience. This categorization then ties together customer interactions on the various channels, delivering analytical understanding of the customer experience.

Arise is combining Interactions’ adaptive understanding technology with its own virtual customer care platform.

Interactions will continue to look to expand the offerings based on the Curo Speech and Language Platform. As the platform evolves, all of the products leveraging it improve as well. 

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