Not Your Daddy’s IVR: The Future of Voice-Computer Relating | #DSW16

The interactive voice-recognition systems most of us are used to are potentially convenient for tasks like paying bills on the go or getting an operator on the line. But most are nothing to write home about, and some even find the all-voice, no buttons services annoying. However, a new era of voice-computer interaction is dawning, and these systems are going to provide much smoother and richer experiences for users than in the past.

According to Philip Likens, a researcher with Sabre Labs, a company that merges voice technology and the travel industry, we’ve yet to skim the surface of how voice can improve our use of technology. He understands why you may be underwhelmed by voice if your only experiences are the electronic operators you speak to on IVR systems. “Many of those systems are terrible,” he says. “This new era of voice is different than that.”

For starters, recognition is just the beginning in this new era. There are also understanding, language generation and speech synthesis — a host of features that make actual relating between the human and computer possible. Likens talks about the possibility of ongoing conversation with the computer through voice. He told the attendees that they would be smart to start investing in voice in the next 18 months. He said that while we are used to consumer-facing voice apps, the market for business to business is wide open and about to see a surge of new products.

One use-case that Likens sees becoming a reality soon is a program that recognizes an operator’s words and makes suggestions instantaneously on how to better serve the caller. He says that some of the best ways voice can be used is to assist human workers rather than replace them.

Watch the entire video to learn more.

R.D. Danes