Conversational Interaction Technology
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Google Docs Now Enables Voice Editing and Formatting

Google has announced a new feature for Google Docs - formatting and editting documents with your voice. It's an extension to the voice transcription feature Google launched back in September of 2015. 

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Conversational Interaction Technology
CIT keeps you up-to-date on news for the Conversational Interaction Technology Innovation Alliance (CITIA)
Curated by LT-Innovate
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Google Launches New Cloud Service for Understanding Human Language

Google's intelligent cloud developer tools are expanding with the launch of a new Cloud Natural Language API on Wednesday. The service is aimed at helping developers create applications that understand human language. It's an important move for Google, as public cloud providers are racing to host new applications built with intelligent capabilities. Natural language processing allows developers to build apps that can tackle the challenging task of understanding how humans communicate, and it is key for things like building intelligent assistants and chat bots.

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Skype for Business: Live Translate Meetings into 40 Languages

Skype Meeting broadcast is designed to allow a small number of speakers to broadcast a presentation to up to 10,000 viewers, for webinars, company meetings and other large occasions. 

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#Machine#Learning Moodstocks Acquired by Google 

Google has acquired France based machine learning startup Moodstocks for an undisclosed amount, the company said in a blog post. Post acquisition, the entire team of Moodstocks will join Google’s R&D facility at Paris, and they will help strengthen visual recognition capability in Google’s image or video based products.
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Tom Marsh's curator insight, July 7, 11:27 AM
Love the name of this company. Of course they had to be French #AI
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S2STranslation Service Goes Live on Mount Fuji

KDDI will introduce multilingual sightseeing guidance for foreign visitors to Japan using the multilingual speech translation system at Mt. Fuji trail heads successively, starting with 10 July. KDDI will provide route guidance and climbing advice through the multilingual speech translation system, in addition to supporting safe and trouble-free climbing.

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How Conversational Interfaces Will Replace Apps

Conversational interfaces won’t just replace much of the functionality of consumer apps; they’ll also impact business applications. One intriguing aspect of the knowledge coming from ongoing bot use is what will happen when conversational artificial intelligence is combined with data analytics. Analysts may be mired in a flood of raw data – a daunting challenge to fully interpret using just traditional tools like spreadsheets and manual analytical queries. However, by bringing the power of conversational UX over to the B2B side as well, analysts can speak or type to an AI interface integrated with their data analytics platform.

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Group Portrait of Facebook's Language Tech Group

The social media giant is late to the AI game, but its roughly 50-person 'Language Tech Group' has big plans to revolutionize the way we use Facebook and protect its ranking as the world’s most powerful social network.
LT-Innovate's insight:

How Facebook faced up to the conversational challenge.

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A Survey of Available Corpora for Building Data-driven Dialogue Systems

Yes, this (46-page) paper (from 2015) does include a catalogue of data sets with dialogues from different domains, but it also includes a high level survey of techniques that are used in building dialogue systems (aka chatbots). In particular, it focuses on data-driven systems, i.e. those that incorporate some kind of learning from data.

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Conversing with Computing Devices: The Race to Humanise Voice Recognition Speeds Up

Within enterprises, ABI Research predicts that natural language processing will prove particularly beneficial in use cases and verticals that demand hands-free functionality, such as in healthcare, oil and gas, factory floors, and construction. Enterprise voice adoption often requires customized dictionaries, applications, and tools. While the major players in voice recognition allow some APIs to extend into these domains, specialists such as Nuance Communications are developing industry-specific voice packages. Consumer-wise, voice control and conversational interaction is a natural fit for both smart glasses and AR devices, as their primary purpose is to offer hands-free, efficient data display and interaction. Smart home devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home will drive consumer use cases, with growth in AI-powered personal assistants enabling natural and rewarding interaction.

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Ng: #ASR Accuracy Will Drive New Web Search

Andrew Ng, chief scientists at Baidu, says that 99 percent accuracy is the key milestone for speech recognition. Companies like Apple, Google, and Baidu are already above 95 percent and improving. Ng estimates that 50 percent of web searches will be voice-powered by 2019. The next natural step for this accurate voice recognition technology is the incorporation of a learning bot that learns all about your life and assists with your tasks, via voice recognition, of course.

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The Conversational Economy Part 1: What’s Causing the Bot Craze?

First of a series of articles on the economic, social and ecosystem drivers of the conversational economy.

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Inquiry into New Standards for Virtual Assistants

After the panel on "The Future of Speech Standards" at SpeechTEK, several people met to talk about starting a new community group to look at use cases and requirements for possible new standards for newer types of voice applications, like virtual assistants," says Deborah Dahl, principal of Conversational Technologies and a consultant, member of the VoiceXML Forum, and chair of the W3C's Multimodal Interaction Working Group.
Community groups represent a relatively new type of W3C Group that's free to join, and they don't require participants to work for a W3C member company, Dahl explains. The idea is to get wide input from a community of developers and users on some topic of interest.
LT-Innovate's insight:

This might be an important initiative for speech folk. Difficult to evaluate at present.

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Social Robots Are Just as Prevalent in Europe as They are in Japan

Goffin and Deblieck have made a database composed from over 1,000 questions and 1,000 answers. When the robot is asked a question by a human, the database onboard the robot allows it to match the right answer to the question. For instance, the Pepper robots used in hospitals will be able to respond to greetings as well as tell the time, and give directions. More questions and answers can be added to the script over time.
LT-Innovate's insight:

About a Belgian company (Zora Robotics) that creates software to make social robots "conversational."

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Will Intelligent Personal Assistants Replace Websites?

Conversational search/UI combined with the ability for developers to integrate directly into IPAs opens up a huge opportunity to merge the interfaces for the search step and the steps previously fulfilled by the website (browsing and checking out).

LT-Innovate's insight:

Useful summary of key trends in the shift from web site processes to #IA conversational technology in the context of online retailing. It might have lessons for other application areas such as healthcare, etc.

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Voice/Speech Recognition Market Summarised fom 2 New Reports

The speech and voice recognition market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.78% and 23.66% respectively. In 2015, the speech recognition market was valued at $3.73 billion and the voice recognition market was valued at $440.3 million. By 2022, however, the voice recognition market is expected to increase to $1.99 billion and the speech recognition market to $9.97 billion.

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Secret Voice Commands Hidden in YouTube Videos Could Hijack #ASR-diven Smartphones

Researchers have shed light on a worrying loophole that could be used by hackers to take control of your smartphone using its built-in voice recognition software. By burying mangled voice commands within YouTube videos, a team of university professors in the US found that they could instruct a nearby device to carry out potentially harmful actions.
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Story Learning Could Teach Robots Human Etiquette

The US Office of Naval Research is working with researchers at Georgia Tech to program robots with human morals using a software program called the “Quixote system.” Mark Reidl and other researchers take natural language procedural stories and plug them into Quixote, which then converts them into signals that “reward” or “punish” an AI based on how closely they choose to act like the story’s protagonist.

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‘Transcription Engine’ to Transform Speech/Audio into Usable Data

Nuance has introduced the Nuance Transcription Engine (NTE), designed to quickly transform massive amounts of recorded audio into actionable data across a wide range of industries.
It will now support the transcription needs of a wide range of organisations and applications including freeform audio in enterprises, broadcast media, and analytics among others.

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#ASR Improved in CallMiner Eureka

Speech and customer engagement analytics company CallMiner has announced an update to its speech-to-text recognition tool, CallMiner Eureka. 
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Brain Scanning Just Got Very Good—and Very Unsettling

Now that the project has produced the intended amount of baseline data from healthy, middle-age adults, it’s time to look at connectivity in different types of brains. The next stage of the research will assess connectivity across the human lifespan, from infants to the elderly, as well as in patients manifesting various forms of human disease. At Stanford University, for example, a team is using HCP technology to study the anatomy of victims of traumatic coma to see if they can predict if and how a patient will improve. At Massachusetts General, radiologists are using the Connectom scanner to look at the microstructure of brain lesions in patients with multiple sclerosis.
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How Do You Teach Human Interaction to a Robot? Lots of TV 

MIT says a computer that binge-watched YouTube videos and TV shows such as "The Office," "Big Bang Theory" and "Desperate Housewives" learned how to predict whether the actors were about to hug, kiss, shake hands or slap high fives -- advances that eventually could help the next generation of artificial intelligence function less clumsily. Lead researcher Carl Vondrick sees potential health-care applications: "If you can predict that someone's about to fall down or start a fire or hurt themselves, it might give you a few seconds' advance notice to intervene."

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OpenAI's Technical Goals Involving #NLProc

We plan to build an agent that can perform a complex task specified by language, and ask for clarification about the task if it’s ambiguous. Today, there are promising algorithms for supervised language tasks such as question answering, syntactic parsing and machine translation but there aren’t any for more advanced linguistic goals, such as the ability to carry a conversation, the ability to fully understand a document, and the ability to follow complex instructions in natural language. We expect to develop new learning algorithms and paradigms to tackle these problems.
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A Popular Chinese Virtual Assistant Is Ready to Control Millions of Home Robots

One of China’s most popular smartphone assistants, HTC’s Hidi, has ambitions to serve as the voice and personality of countless home robots. Turing Robot supplies voice recognition and natural-language processing technology for a growing array of hardware, including car systems developed by Bosch and home appliances from Haier. Now the company has developed an operating system for service robots. So far, Turing Robot provides the voice—and brains—for several popular Chinese home entertainment robots.

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Tom Marsh's curator insight, June 20, 11:34 AM
It's not all about Siri, Cortana and Alexa #innovation
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Microsoft Acquires Wand Labs to Boost Conversational Technology

Microsoft has acquired Wand Labs, a start-up that builds messaging technology for apps. This acquisition accelerates the vision and strategy for ‘Conversation as a Platform’ introduced at the Build 2016 conference,

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Facebook is Predicting the End of the Written Word

In five years time Facebook “will be definitely mobile, it will be probably all video,” said Nicola Mendelsohn, head of Facebook’s operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, at a conference in London this morning. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, has already noted that video will be more and more important for the platform. But Mendelsohn went further, suggesting that stats showed the written word becoming all but obsolete, replaced by moving images and speech.

LT-Innovate's insight:

In other words, a wonderful opportunity for conversational technology.

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Voice Recognition Market to Rise at 23.66% CAGR While Speech Recognition to Hit 15.78% to 2022

Yet another report: The voice recognition market is expected to grow from $440.3 million in 2015 to reach $1.99 Billion by 2022, at a CAGR of 23.66% between 2016 and 2022 driven by factors such as the increasing acceptance of biometric technologies like voice verification for remote authentication applications.

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