Customer Service & the Internet of Things: How APIs, Speech Recognition Are Taking Things to the Next Level

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Customer Service & the Internet of Things: How APIs, Speech Recognition Are Taking Things to the Next Level

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  June 17, 2016

Application programming interfaces, the Internet of Things, and speech recognition are three of the hottest trends in communications – and business at large – today. And now they are starting to converge in exciting new ways.

Google’s (News - Alert) Speech Recognition Play

Google recently made news on two of those fronts via its introduction of the Google Cloud Speech API. The company is making the API available free of charge (at least initially) to third-party developers.

The API can convert audio to text, recognizes more than 80 languages and dialects, can function even in noisy environments, and employs machine learning so its accuracy improves with time and experience. It also can filter out inappropriate content.

“You can transcribe the text of users dictating to an application’s microphone or enable command-and-control through voice among many other use cases,” Google explains.

The API can stream text results, returning partial recognition results as they become available, with the recognized text appearing immediately while speaking; alternatively, it can do speech recognition in batches at any time following a communication, the company says.

The Google Cloud Speech API, according to some reports, is positioned as a direct competitor to Nuance (which reportedly helps power Apple’s (News - Alert) Siri) and other voice recognition companies.

Nuance Is Opening Up Too

Nuance offers a voice recognition solution called Dragon, which works across Android (News - Alert), iOS, PC, and Mac devices. In recent months Nuance has expanded Dragon to address various industry verticals, including versions targeted at the legal and medical professions. And the company is in beta with Nuance (News - Alert) Mix, a set of speech and natural language tools for developers.

APIs and other developer tools are becoming more important as every company today is now a digital company, as organizations that deliver enterprise solutions work to communication-enable those solutions, and as communications companies continue to integrate their capabilities in existing business systems to meet companies where they are. So important are APIs today that CUSTOMER magazine’s parent company, TMC (News - Alert), has launched a new event called All About the API, which will take place July 18 through 21 in Las Vegas.

IoT & Speech Recognition

Tying into all this is another important trend: the Internet of Things.

Nuance has been writing lately about the need to integrate voice recognition capabilities into the Internet of Things, and points out that the new Wi-Fi-connected Samsung Family Hub Refrigerator will employ Nuance’s voice recognition technologies.

“A user can now simply tell the fridge to look for recipes with spinach and tomatoes, which is a godsend when you have messy hands while working in the kitchen,” writes Yumi Huh, director of strategic partnerships for the mobile division of Nuance. “My cookbooks physically tell the war stories of Thanksgiving dinners gone awry and frantic attempts so see what is next in the recipe with gloopy hands.”

This is a sign not just of things to come, but of things that are here today – and that are transforming customer expectations relative to product functionality and performance.

Indeed, Amazon introduced its home Echo device (and related digital voice assistant Alexa) nearly a year ago, and this simple solution has been shaking up the connected home world ever since. Echo users can now call on Alexa to do everything from dimming the lights in their homes; to ordering a pizza from Dominos; to calling Uber for a ride; to turning on a Spotify and a specific artist, genre, or playlist; to getting more information about a movie they’re watching; to having Alexa read them a bedtime story of a Kindle book.

Amazon’s Alexa is just one example of the so-called chatbots that are coming to life. Apple’s Siri, Aspect’s Mila, chatbots built on the Facebook Platform, and a chatbot called Viv from Siri’s creators are a few other examples.

Chatbots can help customers with a range of things – including presenting them news based on specified criteria, getting weight loss advice, and much more. They automate processes, and can be smart and poll users about what they want, and then can come back to them with those things.

Time to Move

The reality, and the potential, for these kinds of solutions are pretty amazing. And this kind of thing is just another sign that our world is changing, and changing quickly, so businesses that want to be successful need to change with it.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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