VoiceReallyMatters.com

A layperson’s exploration of all things voice

Monthly Archives: January 2021

January 29, 2021

Wow! Alexa Now Can Infer Your Intent

As part of Amazon’s long-term goal to make talking to Alexa more natural, a new “infer your intent” functionality has been built. Here’s an excerpt from this article from the “Verge”:

Finding new ways to use Amazon’s Alexa has always been a bit of a pain. Amazon boasts that its AI assistant has more than 100,000 skills, but most are garbage and the useful ones are far from easy to discover. Today, though, Amazon announced it’s launched a new way to surface skills: by guessing what users are after when they talk to Alexa about other tasks.

The company refers to this process as “[inferring] customers’ latent goals.” By this, it means working out any questions that are implied by other queries. Amazon gives the example of a customer asking “How long does it take to steep tea?” to which Alexa will answer “five minutes” before asking the follow-up: ”Would you like me to set a timer for five minutes?”

January 19, 2021

Voice Predictions for This Year

The annual list of predictions from experts for the voice industry from ‘voicebot.ai’ is always one of the more fascinating reads in this space. The predictions are organized by topic – my favorite topic is “voice moves to mobile devices of all sorts.” The topic of “personalization, emotion recognition & context” blows my mind. Check them all out!

And this “Voice Report” from ‘Rain’ lists the top 9 trends that agency is seeing…

January 14, 2021

Amazon Alexa’s “Natural Turn Taking” is Nice!

Here’s a piece from voicebot.ai about how Amazon Alexa has a new functionality that allows for “taking turns” and preferences – see this excerpt:

There is turn taking today when conversing with Alexa. The user speaks then Alexa speaks. That is followed by the user and back to Alexa and so forth. It’s highly structured and doesn’t accommodate interruptions, tangents, or trackbacks very well. The current model is decidedly unlike how humans interact in conversation. Natural turn taking is definitely more accommodating to the vagaries of human conversation.

As good as the natural turn taking demo was, the feature that will probably have a bigger impact is the ability to teach Alexa your preferences. This is long overdue. For Alexa to be a truly personal assistant, it needs to know personal preferences. This knowledge can help make Alexa more useful every day. Prasad demonstrated this feature as well telling Alexa what he meant by certain phrases. However, the practical benefits of Alexa remembering your preferences are easily overshadowed in a two-minute demo by the scope of changes required to support natural turn taking.

January 6, 2021

Voice Assistant Use Through Smart Hearables Earbuds Has Doubled

According to this Voicebot.ai article, since 2018, hearable ownership by U.S. adults has risen about 23% and voice assistant use through hearables grew by 103% from 21.5 million in 2018 to 43.7 million in 2020. The data show that hearables and voice assistant adoption are complementary technology trends.