Microsoft Announces Advancements in Speech
At its Build conference, Microsoft announced a few developments that have speech technology enthusiasts following closely. According to Mashable, Aarthy Longino, Principal Program Manager for Speech and Language at Microsoft demonstrated Microsoft Azure's ability to transcribe multiparty speech in meetings while keeping track of who said what. Additionally, a meeting "cone" that transcribes meetings, is being tested in private beta. But if you want to test out the technology, all you need is the Roobo Smart Audio Dev kit.
On a different note, Microsoft's Qinying Liao, a Principal Program Manager on Speech Services, demonstrated "the remarkably natural-sounding new Neural Voices, which was so smooth that attendees in the room voted for it over an actual human reader," according to Mashable. At the moment, Neural Voices are only available for nine regional English dialects, but Japanese, Spanish, and Portuguese are on the way.
Additionally, Mashable reports, "Another new capability is to add emotion to the TTS: a simple keyword in code can make the generated voice sound cheerful or empathetic. That works the other way, too. In fact, Microsoft's transcription technologies for call centers can detect when an interaction starts to go negative. The Speech Services will let businesses customize recognition and TTS using their own terminology in a new Custom Speech Portal."
The report - Engagement in the Always-on Era: How Humans and Technology Work Hand-in-Hand to Meet Rising Expectations - points to an increase in customer demand for always-on service. It's not only the expectations from consumers that are changing; the workforce also is shifting its attitude towards automation and artificial intelligence.
According to CEO Sundar Pichai it means the speech recognition software that has lived on Google's cloud servers can now be installed in Pixel smartphones Google says it will launch later this year.