Voice recognition and the dawn of intelligent systems

Voice recognition technology has become a key component of many established and emerging devices over the last few years, from consumer products to enterprise and healthcare solutions. Nuance’s Vlad Sejnoha provided several thoughts to Forbes on how we would continue to see progress in 2013, and already we’ve seen a handful of those predictions come to fruition. With 2014 fast approaching, we take a look back at 2013, just to see how far we’ve come.

The last few years have seen rapid progress in the adoption of voice recognition technology as a means for people to interact with some of the devices and machines that are most prevalent in their lives, including smartphones, tablets, televisions and automobiles. And, over the last year specifically, there have been innovative and dynamic advancements in voice recognition technology, natural language understanding (NLU) and intelligent systems that further elevate the interactions between people and their devices to a more, well, human level.

In fact, as a key example, we’ve seen voice and NLU makes its way to the coveted smartwatch with S-Voice on the Samsung GALAXY Gear.

Earlier this year, Nuance’s Chief Technology Officer, Vlad Sejnoha, shared his predictions for 2013 with Forbes and Wireless Week, with a focus on the user interface. And, some of Vlad’s predictions have already come true. Consider the outlook he described for devices becoming more aware:

“We will see the reduction of the many steps required to complete a task: having to pick up a device, turn it on, find a desired application, launch it, and then interact with it. Users will soon be able to simply tell a sleeping device what they want it to do in natural language – without touching it. The device – listening in a low-power mode – will identify the user, confirm whether the request requires its action by progressively waking up additional portions of its processor, and ultimately act on it.”

Nuance’s Dragon Mobile Assistant was instrumental in the adoption of handsets becoming responsive to a wake-up word. Dragon Mobile Assistant empowers a device with an ‘always listening’ mode, and when a user says, ‘Hey, Dragon’ or another phrase of their choosing, the device wakes up and becomes responsive, ready to carry out another command.  The user doesn’t have to touch or interact with the device aside from simply speaking to it. Once awoken, a user can prompt it with other requests, such as, “Send a text message to Joe,” “What’s the weather like outside?” and many others.

People will continue to see and experience the advancements in these areas in a number of ways. There will be a higher rate of accuracy in spoken requests to a device; mobile devices will exhibit greater awareness of the user’s preferences and context; and people will see greater consistency across devices, as intelligent systems store and share a user’s profile and provided data for seamless interactions.

To read all of Vlad’s predictions for 2013, please see his complete article for Forbes here.

What developments have been most prevalent for you in 2013? And, with the year winding down, what are your predictions for 2014? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Peter Mahoney

About Peter Mahoney

Peter Mahoney is the senior vice president and general manager of Dragon for Nuance’s Healthcare division. He is responsible for all aspects of the Dragon speech recognition business, encompassing the healthcare, enterprise, and consumer markets. Peter joined the company in 2004 as the vice president of worldwide marketing for the speech division. Prior to Nuance, Peter held leadership roles in marketing, product management and operations at Performaworks, ATG, Engage and PictureTel after a successful career in sales and alliances at IBM. Peter also serves as the Chairman, Board of Directors for Easter Seals Massachusetts, a non-profit, community-based health agency dedicated to helping children and adults with disabilities attain greater independence. Peter earned a B.S. from Boston College with a double major in Physics and Computer Science.