Nuance Communications has launched a number of new products and partnerships at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Collectively, the recently launched products and services provide a blueprint for how Nuance speech processing technologies – automated speech recognition (ASR), natural coupled language understanding and voice biometrics – in conjunction with other emerging pattern recognition and hands-free technologies – are defining the state-of-the-art user interface as made manifest for mobile devices, wearables, automobiles and home electronics.
One day prior to CES Nuance issued a press release debuting a set of Connected Cloud Services designed to make it easy to transform those devices and apps into “intelligent personal assistants.” The Nuance cloud expressly showcases how “artificial intelligence, contextual dialogue, customized and expressive text-to-speech, always listening wake-up capabilities, voice biometrics, content delivery, and chat bot capabilities” creates a more human-like conversation and experience for users of the variety of technologies.
The Cloud Services announcement was quickly followed by a number of product and service launches by Nuance partners and customers. Chinese mobile device and infrastructure OEM ZTE showcased a new “car mode” for its Android-based devices. ZTE had already integrated Nuance-based voice recognition with its mobile devices to support hands-free operation. Now the two have collaborated to add voice biometrics as well, resulting in a highly-personalized mobile virtual assistant that is optimized for in-car use. The handset can be tuned to recognize only the voice of its owner. In addition, the new ZTE handsets are optimized to support hands-free activities in relatively noisy automotive environments, including natural language, voice-based entry of navigation instructions to find points of interest (POIs).
At CES, Nuance is successfully making the point that using a passphrase or “voiceprint” as mechanism for personalizing goes well beyond mobile devices. In a separate announcement, the company showed how its Dragon TV “platform” has incorporated voice biometric-based user authentication to recognize individual speakers, as well as their preferred channels, programs and entitlements. This approach has the potential to solve the “shared account” quandary, whereby the “recommendation engines” on Netflix, Tivo or other content management platforms are addled by the fact that multiple users, with disparate tastes from differing age cohorts are sharing a single account. Now, an individual can say a selected “wake-up phrase” like “Hello, TV!,” and see personalized channel menus, appropriate movies and content suggestions, or other user-specific preferences.
On the PC, notebook and laptop front, Nuance, in partnership with Intel announced the next generation of Dragon Assistant for Intel RealSense™ technology. RealSense is the tradename for the core platform from Intel’s Perceptual Computing business unit. Dragon Assistant is already installed on 2-in-1, tablets, Ultrabooks and Notebook devices from Acer, Dell, HP and Lenovo, and will be available on those from Asus and Toshiba in early 2014.
Nuance’s Connected Cloud Services figure prominently in its support of a natural language virtual assistant for wearable devices; in this case a “TrueSmart” Android smartwatch made by Omate, which raised over $1 million through crowdsource specialist Kickstarter in 2013, illustrates their shared vision for Dragon Mobile Assistant for wearable devices. The Dragon Mobile Assistant – thanks to the Nuance Connected Cloud, enables people to speak to their watch in order to make calls, send emails or text messages, set reminders, manage their calendar, search the Web, and update social media.
By making so many announcements at CES, Nuance showcases how a combination of cloud-based and embedded resources are required to provide truly conversational access to the features and functions that people expect from their gizmos, gadgets and automotive electronics. It also demonstrates how the new wave of voice-enabled services will rely on cooperation and collaboration between core technology providers and go-to-market partners. 2014 looks like the year that these technical visions and partnerships will come to fruition.