Some commentary from BT's Nicola Millard about emerging demographics and the challenge for customer service
www.getdesign.in - My periodic blog exploring the world of business, experience design and interaction, with a smattering of gadgetry and social media. A world where business, people and technology meet.
Let's Fix Things: For over two decades I've been consulting in Communications Design: Everything from business strategy and processes, through to technology, interaction and customer experience. The thoughts here are my own, not necessarily that of my employer.
I have a penchant for spotting patterns and fixing broken user and customer experiences. Even my Bumblebee project hasn't escaped - I've been using Six Sigma techniques to study and predict their behaviour patterns. ☺
If people who finish your sentences drive you crazy, it's a safe bet that you're probably not going to be nuts about new software that can do just that.
It's been dreamed up as a speech-recognition equivalent to the predictive texton cellphones. Mutter a half-considered thought into the microphone and the software will plunder a database to complete half-formed words or sentences - in Japanese, at least.
The system looks for fragments of words and other signs of hesitation such as filler sounds that Japanese speakers use when searching for their next phrase, just as English speakers "um" and "er".
It can work backwards too. If you're using the voice-controlled jukebox made to demo the idea and ask for a song by "someone, er, Jackson" it will offer up Michael, Janet, and even Joe.
You can imagine how that could be useful for requesting songs from a car's stereo while driving, or requesting a new location from a GPS device. [click heading for more]
[nik's note: this is the original author's opinion, not mine (which may or may not agree)]
This press release from IBM claims that speech recognition for the Web will be a hot technology within five years. As I mentioned previously, IBM has been dedicating some effort to speech recognition. It's a nice idea, I'd like to see it happen, but it's usually a good idea to be skeptical of claims for any speech recognition application. [click heading for more]
Buttons are on their way out.
Five years from now, it is likely that the mobile phone you will be holding will be a smooth, sleek brick — a piece of metal and plastic with a few grooves in it and little more.
Like the iPhone, it will be mostly display; unlike the iPhone, it will respond to voice commands and gestures as well as touch.
"So much of how we understand technology is visually driven," says Rachel Hinman, a strategist with Adaptive Path, a user-experience and design-consulting firm. "Mobile interface design has to mimic the touch, sight, gesture and auditory feeds that we use to interact with our environment."
That means speaking to your phone rather than typing, pointing with your finger instead of clicking on buttons, and gesturing instead of touching. You could listen to music, access the internet, use the camera and shop for gadgets by just telling your phone what you want to do, by waving your fingers at it, or by aiming its camera at an object you're interested in buying.
[click heading for more]
[nik's note: Every once in a while I see something about a piece of technology that really captures the imagination, so I post it here. Thing is, this following piece of technology literally does capture the imagination.... ]
Voice Commands: Joined with artificial intelligence, voice-commands might take out the mouse with easy management of several different tasks at once. Speech recognition is already becoming a common technology. But it's not completely accurate yet (see the problems found in speech recognition programs for Windows Vista). This likely won't be ready in five years. [click heading for more]
[nik's note: do you agree with the hypothesis in this article? Can we never replicate human capability at speech? ]
John Seabrook wrote a recent feature in The New Yorker about interactive-voice-response systems (I.V.R.) commonly used with customer service and tech support telephone hotlines. Seabrook spent time at B.B.N. Technologies watching these systems transcribe callers' words and analyzing the tone of voice for emotions present. While breaking down the history of automated telephone services and voice recognition innovations, he attempts to tackle the larger question of whether or not we can create a fully conversational, quasi-conscious robot, akin to 2001: A Space Odyssey's Hal 9000. Judging from the number of experts interviewed for the piece, the answer is a resounding no. [click heading for more]
Advanced humanoid robot Asimo just got a new superpower – it can understand three humans shouting at once.
For now the modified Asimo's new ability are being used to judge rock-paper-scissors contests, where three people call out their choices at once. But the number of voices and the complexity of the sentences the software can deal with should grow in future. [click heading for more]
Vlingo Corporation (www.vlingo.com) today announced that it has been selected as one of 10 FiReStarters at the upcoming Future in Review 2008 Conference. Vlingo was selected by strategic investment members of the Strategic News Service(R) who sought out the ten emerging technology companies that they believe will "change the world in a positive way."
Vlingo was selected because of its ground-breaking approach to speech recognition for the mobile market. Launched as part of Yahoo! OneSearch(TM) earlier this month, vlingo is the first and only open and unconstrained speech recognition technology for the mobile industry. Vlingo products allow consumers to simply speak into any mobile application and have their speech converted into text on the mobile device. They can launch applications and complete text fields such as Web search or messaging by simply speaking into their phones. Vlingo makes this easy because users do not have to memorize a limited set of commands or structure input in particular ways. The vlingo technology is based on core speech recognition technology from IBM, which supports vlingo's goals of creating and scaling across large numbers of users and applications. [click heading for more]
What it does: An artificial intelligence platform for conversational speech recognition. While it's not a Web service, it can be applied to networked technologies, and has a lot of potential in the mobile world. [click heading for more]