Speech recognition technology is one of the vital components powering IVR systems and applications. Also known as automatic speech recognition (ASR), it enables users to submit data and information vocally (as opposed to via a touchtone keypad) in IVR systems and, ultimately, facilitates verbal communications between mechanical devices and humans.
There are myriad applications that have incorporated some component of speech recognition technology into their systems. The technology is featured in everything from voice user interfaces to call routing and speech-to-text comprehension. Most notably, ASR technology has featured prominently in the operating systems of smartphones (think Siri or Google Now), enabling users to control their phone by speaking commands.
Nuance communications (the company that is widely believed to be behind the development of Siri technology) has announced that it is working on speech recognition technology for smartphones that will go beyond Siri.
The technology would enable users to control their device hands-free, using only their voice. As it stands, to employ Siri one must press a button and begin speaking, meaning that users must have the phone in hand to use the feature. Nuance’s new product would enable hands-free interaction with a mobile device, even when it is in sleep mode.
While the technology sounds ideal, there are some inherent problems in the practical deployment of such a feature. The most obvious issue is that voice recognition would additionally need to be developed and included in the platform for the application to function properly. Voice recognition technology is able to discern the specific identity of a speaker, as opposed to ASR interpreting what is being said.
A mobile device equipped with speech recognition only could potentially compromise the user’s privacy and security. If the device responded to any voice (and not just the owner’s), it would be affected by conversations and virtually any utterance made within range of the phone.
Nuance has proposed a ‘wake-up’ phrase to curb this, but there is a high probability that it would come up in exchanges. Per Jared Newman in Techland: “Of course, there are some huge challenges that Nuance will have to deal with first. Accidental triggering of the voice assistant could be a problem—the butt dialing of the 21st century perhaps—unless the prompting phrase is weird enough to never come up in conversation.”
This isn’t the only hurdle Nuance will have to overcome in the development process. Stay tuned for Your Phone Told Me Everything…