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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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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Top 19 Intelligent Personal Assistants or Automated Personal Assistants

Including Google now, Amazon Echo, Cortana, Siri, BlackBerry Assistant,Braina, Hound, Nina, SILVIA, Lucida, Ubi, Vlingo, MD.com, Aido, Cubic, Jibo, Maluuba, Mycroft are some of the top Intelligent Personal Assistant or Automated Personal Assistant in no particular order.

LT-Innovate's insight:

NB: robot-authored rubbish about these IAs, but the list and links may be useful to anyone trying to go to the source.

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Speech and Voice Recognition Market Worth 11.96 Billion USD by 2022

According to a new market research report, the speech recognition market is expected to grow from USD 3.73 Billion in 2015 to USD 9.97 Billion by 2022, at a CAGR of 15.78% during the forecast period, while the voice recognition market is expected to grow from USD 440.3 Million in 2015 to USD 1.99 Billion by 2022, at a CAGR of 23.66% between 2016 and 2022.

   

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AssistiveWare Introduces Genuine French #TTS Children's Voices

AssistiveWare and Acapela Group have announced the release of genuine French Text to Speech children's voices. The voices, called Elise and Valentin, are made by and for children. Beginning today the voices are available as a free download in AssistiveWare's Pictello, a visual storytelling app for iOS that's often used in the classroom for social stories and schedules to support children with autism and Down syndrome.

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Facebook's Race To Dominate AI

Can a radically open culture help Facebook catch up to Google and Microsoft and build the world's most powerful ad platform?
LT-Innovate's insight:

Mainly interesting for the discussion with Yann Le Cun (chief AI researcher at Facebook) about whether research scientists with an open mindset can fit into a development culture in large tech companies.

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BBC Works with Ericsson to Cut Captioning Delays

The BBC is aiming to improve the live captioning service on its programme output by reducing the delay between a show’s audio and the appearance of the related on-screen text.  The move follows a live subtitle re-timing proof-of-concept project that saw BBC and Ericsson working with Atos and Screen Subtitling Systems.

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IBM's The Weather Company to Launch Watson Ads

The Weather Company (acquired by IBM in 2015)  has announced Watson Ads, which will enable consumers to interact with IBM's Watson cognitive computing system through advertising. Ad viewers will be able to ask questions via voice or text and receive relevant information about the product or offering portrayed in the ad.

LT-Innovate's insight:

Inevitable; but what's at stake is the "conversational" data

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DefinedCrowd Connects Machine Learning with Native Speakers

DefinedCrowd (Portugal & US) is filling a niche in the big data and machine learning community, providing near-real-time feeds of rich spoken and written language data, checked by actual well-informed humans all over the world.


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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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Conversational Technology and Tomorrow's Travel Industry 

(From a report on CIT in Travel) Artificial interfaces could effectively replace smartphones as a user interface”. Swedish technology firm Ericsson goes even further, citing research suggesting AI is likely to take over many common activities such as searching the web, getting travel advice and being used as personal assistants. This would mean a paradigm shift in terms of where consumers get their information from and in what form. “By 2020, advanced conversational smart agents and VPAs could handle 40% of mobile interactions autonomously.”

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VoiceBox Launches Voice AI for Auto Makers

VoiceBox Technologies (US) has announced the new VoiceBox Automotive Software Development Kit (v5.0) for Windows, Linux and Android platforms. With full integration of the VoiceBox Embedded Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) engine and the company's patented context management, VoiceBox is a single solution for next generation in-car voice systems.

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Vi is an #AI Personal Trainer Ear Service

Vi looks just like a pair of headphones, but it contains a personal trainer that uses artificial intelligence. That means it can learn about you and your routine, and help gee you on when you need a bit of inspiration. It can tell you the weather forecast, and help adjust your training so you work out indoors when it's raining, for example. While you're running you can ask it for your heart rate, or a progress update, and it'll tell you how you're getting on. It'll even tell you to speed up to stay on pace, or slow down if you're overdoing it and risking an injury.

LT-Innovate's insight:

After the Waverlylab (qv) translation earpiece, here's another interface using ear-based TTS tech.  

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How Shining a Laser on Your Face Might Help #IntelligentAssistants Understand You

Rather than focusing on cleaning up the audio signal that captures your voice, Israeli startup VocalZoom thinks it might be possible to make all kinds of speech-recognition applications work a lot better by using a tiny, low-power laser that measures the itty-bitty vibrations of your skin when you speak.
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Speechmatics Seeks New Recruits

Cambridge (UK) speech recognition technology startup Speechmatics is seeking up to 20 new recruits in a rapid scale-up. It recently launched Universal Time Alignment – a language-independent forced-alignment service to match words in text files to their counterparts in audio files. The technology accurately and automatically delivers improved content discoverability, in any language, and the company is leveraging an Arabic version.

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