Mobile Voice Conference 2015 Wrap Up

This year’s Mobile Voice Conference brought together over a hundred industry experts in the fields of speech recognition, natural language processing, cognitive computing, and voice-enabled mobile app development. As you might imagine, the atmosphere was lively and the general mood upbeat. How could it not be? Speech technologies are in the limelight these days and there’s really no more exciting place to be.

Mobile Voice ConferenceThe two days were chock full of interesting presentations, Here are just a few highlights from my notes.

Tim Tuttle of ExpectLabs demonstrated their powerful MindMeld voice-driven search technology. He stated that in three years, most computers won’t have keyboards. We’ll be using natural language as the interface of choice. The MindMeld technology is available to companies to create their own voice-driven content discovery.

Lisa Falkson of CloudCar showed technologies that allow us to use voice commands in our cars to facilitate navigation, communication, and entertainment. They’re working together with ExpectLabs to enable advanced voice-driven search from right within your vehicle.

Christina Apatow of Speaktoit’s demonstrated how the backend system that powers the highly-rated Speaktoit Assistant is now available to developers. She showed the graphical development platform that allows you to easily build your own voice-enabled applications and run them using the Speaktoit API.

Sara Basson from the IBM Watson team talked about how the cognitive computing technology is being used to enhance learning. She gave some insights into the Watson Cognitive Tutor that engages students to improve their learning experience.

Peter Cahill of Voysis delved into the challenges of making text-to-speech sound more human, especially when reading a story. He gave a glimpse of some exciting new technology that his company is pioneering that may facilitate breakthroughs in this area.

There was an excellent session on virtual assistants in the health care space. Jen Snell from NextIT showed some of their early technology in this area. She cited a study that shows many patients seem to prefer interacting with a virtual assistant upon discharge from a hospital following a procedure and that readmissions or complications can be avoided if the patient has been instructed by a virtual assistant.

Laura Kusumoto from Kaiser Permanente talked about some of their emerging technology that includes virtual health assistants and health coaches.

Jonathan Dreyer from Nuance demonstrated their Florence virtual health care assistant. This is still an early technology, but they’ve been working closely with doctors to improve the technology and Dreyer even demoed a voice-enabled wearable physician’s virtual assistant.

There were sessions on the evolution of personal assistants and other sessions focusing on intelligent assistants in the enterprise. I gave a short talk on a framework that can be used for evaluating enterprise virtual assistants. The framework might be useful if you’re a company in the market for customer-facing virtual agent technologies, but you’re not quite sure how to determine your needs.

There were far more sessions than I’ve listed here, and of course lots of great discussions with industry experts. If you missed the event, or if you were there and would like a copy of the presentations, stay tuned to the Mobile Voice Conference website. Rumor has it that they may be posting the presentations soon.

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