Conversational Interaction Technology
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Figures for the Wireless-driven Wearables Ecosystem

Wearable device shipments are expected to grow at a CAGR of nearly 40% over the next 6 years, eventually accounting for 340 Million device shipments by the end of 2020.  Wireless carriers are increasingly integrating wearable devices within their M2M and IoT strategies
Wearable devices will help wireless carriers drive over $71 Billion in additional service revenue by the end of 2020, following a CAGR of 95% between 2014 and 2020. The wearable applications ecosystem will account for nearly $850 Million in revenue by the end of 2015.

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Conversational Interaction Technology
CIT keeps you up-to-date on news for the Conversational Interaction Technology Innovation Alliance (CITIA)
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By the Skin of Your Voice: #ASR for Noisy Environments

An Israeli startup called VocalZoom wants to examine skin to comprehend what we say. When we talk, the skin on our faces makes subtle vibrations too slight to be noticed by the naked human eye. While experimenting with an instrument known as an interferometer, VocalZoom CEO Tal Bakish and his team noticed it could detect peculiar measurements. “When it measures the face, we found out that the vibrations were caused only by the speaker’s voice and were not affected at all by any background voice. At this point we realized that we have a disruptive technology to extract the voice of speaker in any noisy condition.

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Deep Voice: Real-Time Neural Text-to-Speech for Production

Baidu Research presents Deep Voice, a production-quality text-to-speech system constructed entirely from deep neural networks. The biggest obstacle to building such a system thus far has been the speed of audio synthesis – previous approaches have taken minutes or hours to generate only a few seconds of speech. We solve this challenge and show that we can do audio synthesis in real-time, which amounts to an up to 400X speedup over previous WaveNet inference implementations.
LT-Innovate's insight:

NTTS anyone

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New Dublin #ASR Startup Raises €7.6M in funding

The founder of a Dublin-based voice technology startup that today announced a €7.6m funding round says that we are “months” away from Star Trek style voice commands in our homes and businesses. Peter Cahill’s company, Voysis, has built a voice recognition system that specialises in natural language processing and text to speech capabilities.

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Voice Interface Solutions for IoT Devices

Cyberon Corporation (Taiwan), develops CSpotter which is specifically designed for a new generation of always-on mobile and IoT devices, listening to ambient speech to detect and respond to a set of predefined words and/or trigger commands. CSpotter supports 34 languages, based on phoneme acoustic models. Developers can quickly create customized voice commands simply with text input, without requiring cumbersome voice data collection

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Why Voice Won't Replace Screen Search

The reality is that successful technology companies, including the makers of voice-enabled applications and devices, should be looking to develop experiences that allow for the seamless transition of customer use-case scenarios between a screen and voice services. It is this convergence that will unlock the greater potential of what voice can deliver when it comes to completing a task. It’s the ability to start with a voice search, like “find me a blue strappy sandal in size 8” on Alexa or Cortana, and then transition that to screen for viewing.

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Mondly Launches Virtual Reality for Learning Languages, Powered by Chatbots

ATi Studios (Romania), creators of Mondly, has released the first virtual reality app for language education to combine AI technology behind chatbots with speech recognition in virtual reality. Learn Languages VR by Mondly allows people to experience lifelike conversations with virtual characters, in 28 different languages, from the comfort of home.

LT-Innovate's insight:

The full interactive monty for language learning, but it all depends on the content.

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Global Intelligent Virtual Assistant Market worth $11B by 2024

According to Global Market Insights, Inc., “Global intelligent virtual assistant market size is estimated to grow at an annual growth rate of 34.9% over the coming seven years.” The technology assisted advantages such as high customer satisfaction, enhanced support, personalized customer service, low operating cost, and multiple languages & device support will increase the demand for IVA worldwide.
LT-Innovate's insight:

Plenty of predictions to choose from in this sector

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Fully Embeddable Real-time #ASR from Speechmatics

Speechmatics (http://www.speechmatics.com), the Cambridge-based speech technology company, launches its real-time, fully embeddable, continuous speech recognition system in many languages – providing levels of accuracy and speed usually only found on expensive cloud-based services. A free trial demo is now available on the Speechmatics website. 

LT-Innovate's insight:

Note the security-conscious approach sans Cloud.

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Steve Young on Building Real Conversational Agents

Steve Young (Cambridge Univ. + Apple) gave a talk recently. and explained why parsing language is so difficult for machines. Unlike image recognition, for example, language is compositional, meaning the same components can be rearranged to produce vastly different meanings. Another key challenge with language is that it offers only an incomplete glimpse of what another person is thinking, so it is often necessary to make guesses about what a phrase or sentence means. On a practical level, as a spoken query gets longer, interpreting it often requires merging knowledge from different domains. For instance, a complex query about a restaurant may require an understanding of time, location, and food.

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Insurance Speech Database Helps Identify Disease

US start-up Canary Speech is developing deep-learning algorithms to detect if people have neurological conditions like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease just by listening to the sound of their voice. And it’s found a controversial source of audio data to train its algorithms on: phone calls to a health insurer.
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Speech Analytics Market to Grow at 23% to Reach $1.75B by 2022 

Speech Analytics Market is expected to grow at CAGR of ~23% during the period of 2016 to 2022 and expected to reach market size of US $ ~1.75 billion by the end of 2022. There are many channels used like voice, social channels, email, and surveys amongst which consumers prefer voice i.e. phone interactions the most. This increase in customer interaction by use of various channels is acting as a major driving force for business analytics market growth.

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Voice Analysis Should Be Used with Caution in Court

In the guidelines for forensic science published in June 2015, the European Network of Forensic Science Institutes recommends the use of a Bayesian framework, and especially of the likelihood ratio. However, according to the INTERPOL report, only 18 of the 44 experts surveyed had made the switch.
LT-Innovate's insight:

Interesting article on the problems of accuracy in forensic phonetics, and the role of technology

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Global #ASR Software Industry To Grow At CAGR Of 16.99%  to 2020

Technavio's analysts forecast the global speech recognition software market to grow at a CAGR of 16.99% during the period 2016-2020.

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Deep Learning Reinvents the Hearing Aid

To produce a better experience for hearing aid wearers, my lab at Ohio State University, in Columbus, recently applied machine learning based on deep neural networks to the task of segregating sounds. We have tested multiple versions of a digital filter that not only amplifies sound but can also isolate speech from background noise and automatically adjust the volumes of each separately.
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Android Malware Uses Speech Recognition APIs 

Symantec says that the malware threat, known as Android.Lockdroid.E, locks an infected device and then displays a ransom note in Chinese that gives instructions to contact the cybercriminals directly for further instructions on how to pay the ransom and unlock the phone. Victims are directed to press a button to initiate the speech recognition functionality and the malware-using third-party APIs to compare the spoken words to the expected code. “This latest technique of using speech recognition is also rather inefficient as the victim must still use another device to contact the criminals,” Dinesh Venkatesan said in the Symantec blog post.

LT-Innovate's insight:

Better #ASR comes at a price. Especially in Chinese...

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The Next Generation of Smart Earbuds has Arrived

Doppler Labs product Here One. You can still turn down the din in the restaurant you’re sitting in, either by manually adjusting the noise with a graphic equalizer or preset filters in the Here One app, but now there are three microphones within each earbud to help you do things like amplify just the voices behind you or in front of you. And you can also take phone calls, listen to music, and summon Siri on the iPhone or Google Now on select Android phones (the Android app currently works only with Samsung’s Galaxy S6 and S7). You can control many of these actions by tapping once or twice on either earbud.

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'Brain fingerprints': Will Semantic Memory Identification Replace fingerprints and Passwords? 

Blair C. Armstrong and colleagues at the Basque Center on Cognition, Brain, and Language (BCBL) in Spain are experimenting with a technology akin to brain fingerprints. Comparing brain signals from volunteer subjects when the subjects read lists of different acronyms, such as FBI or DVD, the team found brain wave responses to be specific for each individual. The result is that acronym lists combined with brain wave scanning could identify people with 94 percent accuracy.
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Beyond the Words: Predicting User Personality from Heterogenous Information

In this paper, we propose a Heterogeneous Information Ensemble framework, called HIE, to predict users' personality traits by integrating heterogeneous information including self-language usage, avatar, emoticon, and responsive patterns. In our framework, to improve the performance of personality prediction, we have designed different strategies extracting semantic representations to fully leverage heterogeneous information on social media.
LT-Innovate's insight:

A semantics to handle not just language but multimodal properties.

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Using Artificial Intelligence to Speak with a Lost Friend

Eugenia Kuyda is pushing AI into a still more personal realm. The CEO and founder of Luka, an AI startup, Kuyda has developed a chatbot to recreate the human personality – with a goal to enable users to reconnect with long lost friends. The project is a personal one: she lost a best friend and found herself looking at his old texts. And so was born Replika, which aims to recreate the human personality.

LT-Innovate's insight:

Reconstructing "lost" humans, revoicing them, and soon, no doubt, virtual reality-izing them has been a constant theme of the digital era. Previously we just built monuments or wrote books about hem.

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New #ASR Chip that Uses a Fraction of Power of Existing Technologies

MIT has announced that it’s developed a speech recognition chip capable of real world power savings of between 90 and 99 percent over existing technologies, enabling voice technology to branch out in much simpler electronics. The team gives IoT devices a potential use case – devices designed to go months on end without charging or changing batteries.  The technology also features a “voice activity detection” circuit capable of distinguishing ambient noise from speech, turning on on-board speech recognition hardware when it detects the latter.

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Intelligent Virtual Assistant Market to Exceed US$ 2,000 Million by 2022 

The global intelligent virtual assistant market was valued at US$579.7M in 2014 and is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 31.8% from 2015 to 2022.

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Customisable Speech-to-Text Engine for Developers

Microsoft’s Artificial Intelligence and Research Group is debuting a new technology that lets developers customize Microsoft’s speech-to-text engine for use in their own apps and online services. This new Custom Speech Service is in public preview. Microsoft says it lets developers upload a unique vocabulary — such as alien names in Human Interact’s VR game Starship Commander — to produce a sophisticated language model for recognizing voice commands and other speech from users.

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Talking into an App Could Help Medical Diagnosis

Voice samples are a rich source of information about a person’s health, and researchers think subtle vocal cues may indicate underlying medical conditions or gauge disease risk. In a few years it may be possible to monitor a person’s health remotely—using smartphones and other wearables—by recording short speech samples and analyzing them for disease biomarkers.
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Major Speech Translation Corpus Goes Public

Microsoft Translator is publicly releasing a set of data that includes multiple conversations between bilingual speakers who are speaking French, German and English. This corpus, which was produced by Microsoft using bilingual speakers, aims to create a standard by which people can measure how well their conversational speech translation systems work.

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Emotion Analytics Market to Growth at 82.9% to 2022

According to Infoholic Research, the Worldwide Emotion Analytics market is estimated to witness a CAGR of 82.9% during the forecast period 2016–2022. The technologies covered in the report are AI, biometrics & neuroscience, 3D modelling, pattern recognition, records management and others.

LT-Innovate's insight:

Raging against the machine will finally have a metric.

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#NLG to Help Alexa Get Conversational

On January 24 and 25, Automated Insights, the company behind the natural language generation (NLG) platform Wordsmith, and Amazon Alexa hosted a hackathon to find ways to bring conversational natural language to Alexa skills.
"Typically, integrations have focused on what a user can say to Alexa, not what she can say back,” said Krijn van der Raadt, Vice President of IT and Software Development at GreatCall, whose team took second place at the event. “With Wordsmith, we get human-sounding responses that naturally use different language each time."
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