Talk with Your Device: The Future of Voice Control

Voice control technologies designed for smartphones are moving to tablets and laptops, says Audience executive.

Desire for new ways to interact with computer devices is bringing attention to companies that specialize in touchscreen, sensor, haptic, camera and digital voice technologies. Apple’s Siri voice assistant, Samsung’s eye tracking and Leap Motion’s gesture recognition device that will be used in future PCs by HP are instances where these technologies are helping smartphone, tablet and computer makers innovate and differentiate products. For users, this means personal computers and devices are becoming more human with perceptual hardware and software that bring sight, hearing and touch interactions.

Andy Keane on voice control technology

"The way people are interacting with smartphones using voice and data has moved down to simple phones and extended to tablets and Ultrabook computers," said Andy Keane.

Voice technologies may be the tip of the spear for these ways of interacting. In a recent interview, Ben Bajarin, principal analyst at Creative Strategies, said that beyond touch interfaces, advancements in voice command and control technology will push other modes of so-called perceptual computing such as gesture, facial recognition and eye tracking interfaces into mainstream products.

One of the companies working with voice is Audience, a maker of digital voice and audio processors for mobile devices. According to Andy Keane, former vice president of marketing for the company, its technology, designed after the human hearing system of two ears, utilizes two microphones on a device to separate out a voice, enhance it and then transmit higher-quality voice over mobile network. In an interview conducted before Keane, who left the company earlier this year, said that noise canceling technology brings clear-sounding voice but also improves talking experiences on the phone. It also has huge implications for machine learning, giving people the ability to control their devices, search the Internet and understand their surroundings wherever they go just by using their voice.

Audience has focused on voice technologies since 2000. Over a decade into it, what technologies are changing your business?

Voice is playing an increasingly critical role in mobile technologies and cloud services. Mobile technologies, especially smartphones, have rapidly evolved as a tool for voice to a tool for data and sensing the world around us. The cloud is an incredibly important advance because it’s allowing consumers to use their mobile devices to do new things. When voice is turned into data cloud computing installations can take the voice and produce Internet search results or find information about the world around you.

What innovation is happening around voice technologies?

By extracting the voice from any surrounding noise and enhancing it we can now make that voice appear very clear to the listener at the other end. No matter if you’re in a restaurant, train station or on the street, you can actually talk on your mobile phone and be heard clearly while talking in a normal voice. This enhances overall communication by allowing mobile devices to be useful anywhere.

By enhancing the voice, speech recognizer technology can find and deliver accurate results regardless of the environment around you. Now voice can be a very natural way of interacting with a mobile device. High-quality voice is becoming more important as voice command experiences become more mainstream.

Europe is leading the way with an initiative called HD Voice, a set of voice call quality standards as the industry moves to wideband. It is analogous to television’s development from black and white to color and today’s HD TV. Moving to HD Voice will bring higher-quality voice on devices in a quiet or noisy environment.

The other advances are happening in the network. For example, LTE gives a much bigger pipe for data to and from the consumer, so more bandwidth is available for very natural voice call quality and device interaction.

Do you see trends or shifts in the way people are using voice to interact with their computing devices?

The most dramatic trend is that the way people are interacting with smartphones, using voice and data, has moved down to simple phones and extended to tablets and Ultrabook computers. New technology really drives consumers. You put a new capability into consumers’ hands and ultimately what happens is they start doing things no one anticipated. As these phones become part of people’s lifestyles it drives what types of devices and capabilities we design in the future.

The biggest challenge is meeting consumers’ expectations now that incredibly capable smartphones are in the hands of many more people. They want experiences in real time, like video and instant access to information wherever they are. Ultimately, devices, networks and applications and the infrastructure delivering this content need to keep pace with consumer expectations.

It’s like the movie business. Every new movie that comes out needs to have something a little better, it needs to have more of a wow factor. To keep people consuming content and purchasing new devices we have to keep improving that experience at the pace that meets consumer expectations.

Do people use voice technologies differently in various parts of the world?

With the advent of smartphones being so capable with fast processors, large screens, good voice quality, feature phones, the kind designed primarily for voice calls are being left behind. These feature phones have been the primary device for many people in emerging markets, so we’re moving voice quality technologies once only found in smartphones down to low-cost feature phones.

What are some new uses that might evolve as voice quality improves?

Smartphones know where they are because they have GPS. It can connect to the cloud and bring in the language based on your location or stick to your device’s language preference. We have this fantastic power in the cloud to adapt to an individual. Imagine that all of the different languages of the world lived in the cloud. So you don’t have to have all of the flavors of Indian dialects or the dialects that exist in Spain stored on the personal device.

Consumers to some extent like new capabilities but what they really like is to have a much simpler experience. Today, we see people aggregating applications on to their devices, but what if you could simply tell the device what you want and it would know how to respond?

Talk with Your Device: The Future of Voice Control

Voice control technologies designed for smartphones are moving to tablets and laptops, says Audience executive.

Desire for new ways to interact with computer devices is bringing attention to companies that specialize in touchscreen, sensor, haptic, camera and digital voice technologies. Apple’s Siri voice assistant, Samsung’s eye tracking and Leap Motion’s gesture recognition device that will be used in future PCs by HP are instances where these technologies are helping smartphone, tablet and computer makers innovate and differentiate products. For users, this means personal computers and devices are becoming more human with perceptual hardware and software that bring sight, hearing and touch interactions.

Andy Keane on voice control technology

"The way people are interacting with smartphones using voice and data has moved down to simple phones and extended to tablets and Ultrabook computers," said Andy Keane.

Voice technologies may be the tip of the spear for these ways of interacting. In a recent interview, Ben Bajarin, principal analyst at Creative Strategies, said that beyond touch interfaces, advancements in voice command and control technology will push other modes of so-called perceptual computing such as gesture, facial recognition and eye tracking interfaces into mainstream products.

One of the companies working with voice is Audience, a maker of digital voice and audio processors for mobile devices. According to Andy Keane, former vice president of marketing for the company, its technology, designed after the human hearing system of two ears, utilizes two microphones on a device to separate out a voice, enhance it and then transmit higher-quality voice over mobile network. In an interview conducted before Keane, who left the company earlier this year, said that noise canceling technology brings clear-sounding voice but also improves talking experiences on the phone. It also has huge implications for machine learning, giving people the ability to control their devices, search the Internet and understand their surroundings wherever they go just by using their voice.

Audience has focused on voice technologies since 2000. Over a decade into it, what technologies are changing your business?

Voice is playing an increasingly critical role in mobile technologies and cloud services. Mobile technologies, especially smartphones, have rapidly evolved as a tool for voice to a tool for data and sensing the world around us. The cloud is an incredibly important advance because it’s allowing consumers to use their mobile devices to do new things. When voice is turned into data cloud computing installations can take the voice and produce Internet search results or find information about the world around you.

What innovation is happening around voice technologies?

By extracting the voice from any surrounding noise and enhancing it we can now make that voice appear very clear to the listener at the other end. No matter if you’re in a restaurant, train station or on the street, you can actually talk on your mobile phone and be heard clearly while talking in a normal voice. This enhances overall communication by allowing mobile devices to be useful anywhere.

By enhancing the voice, speech recognizer technology can find and deliver accurate results regardless of the environment around you. Now voice can be a very natural way of interacting with a mobile device. High-quality voice is becoming more important as voice command experiences become more mainstream.

Europe is leading the way with an initiative called HD Voice, a set of voice call quality standards as the industry moves to wideband. It is analogous to television’s development from black and white to color and today’s HD TV. Moving to HD Voice will bring higher-quality voice on devices in a quiet or noisy environment.

The other advances are happening in the network. For example, LTE gives a much bigger pipe for data to and from the consumer, so more bandwidth is available for very natural voice call quality and device interaction.

Do you see trends or shifts in the way people are using voice to interact with their computing devices?

The most dramatic trend is that the way people are interacting with smartphones, using voice and data, has moved down to simple phones and extended to tablets and Ultrabook computers. New technology really drives consumers. You put a new capability into consumers’ hands and ultimately what happens is they start doing things no one anticipated. As these phones become part of people’s lifestyles it drives what types of devices and capabilities we design in the future.

The biggest challenge is meeting consumers’ expectations now that incredibly capable smartphones are in the hands of many more people. They want experiences in real time, like video and instant access to information wherever they are. Ultimately, devices, networks and applications and the infrastructure delivering this content need to keep pace with consumer expectations.

It’s like the movie business. Every new movie that comes out needs to have something a little better, it needs to have more of a wow factor. To keep people consuming content and purchasing new devices we have to keep improving that experience at the pace that meets consumer expectations.

Do people use voice technologies differently in various parts of the world?

With the advent of smartphones being so capable with fast processors, large screens, good voice quality, feature phones, the kind designed primarily for voice calls are being left behind. These feature phones have been the primary device for many people in emerging markets, so we’re moving voice quality technologies once only found in smartphones down to low-cost feature phones.

What are some new uses that might evolve as voice quality improves?

Smartphones know where they are because they have GPS. It can connect to the cloud and bring in the language based on your location or stick to your device’s language preference. We have this fantastic power in the cloud to adapt to an individual. Imagine that all of the different languages of the world lived in the cloud. So you don’t have to have all of the flavors of Indian dialects or the dialects that exist in Spain stored on the personal device.

Consumers to some extent like new capabilities but what they really like is to have a much simpler experience. Today, we see people aggregating applications on to their devices, but what if you could simply tell the device what you want and it would know how to respond?