Jacada announced today that they have received US Patent No.: US 8,995,646 B2, which covers some of the technology underlying the company’s Visual IVR (Interactive Voice Response) system. I wrote about Jacada’s Visual IVR technology last summer after seeing a demo at SpeechTek 2014. As I mentioned in that post, Visual IVR systems are certainly different from intelligent assistant applications.
Visual IVR offers the user an interface that extends the capabilities of their self-service session. For example, if the customer wants details on a shipment or a product, a live agent can send them an SMS message that lets them access a self-service interface from their mobile device.
With or without the support of the human agent, the user can enter account or product details and retrieve the information they’re seeking. Visual IVR transforms the user’s mobile device into their own personalized support application.
I”m not on expert on patents, but I reviewed the patent description to see if I could understand the basics of what is claimed. It looks to me like the patent covers the technology required to determine that the user needs to extend his/her self-service session to a human agent in order to get assistance. This technology includes a process and means for connecting the human agent with the user’s device and for transferring data about the user’s interactions into the self-service session.
The patent also seems to include a means for a real person to interact with the user and help them navigate their way through the visual interface that’s pushed to them.
As I mentioned in my earlier post, there are most likely use cases that lend themselves better to Visual IVR than to support via a dialog-based virtual agent / intelligent assistant. As Visual IVR systems become more sophisticated, it may turn out that these handy self-service options are preferred over conversational agents. I also wouldn’t be surprised if dialog-based virtual agent systems begin to work in tandem with Visual IVR technologies.
Jacada is certainly a major player in the Visual IVR arena and their new patent provides them with substantial intellectual property to continue to build out their offerings and customer base.