30 Aug

Voice User Interaction – Insights of a Voice Layer Solution Vendor.

amir Uncategorized 0 Comments

Voice. The new frontier.

Voice solutions has been around for nearly 30 years. Here is where I believe the voice solutions are headed.

Voice interfaces initially started as an improved interface for call centers and self service products, over IVR and telephony systems (“say your ID number”). These technologies have improved over the years and have became a stable and pretty standard solution in that segment. Another segment included on-board hardware products, and later on the in – car interactive systems. All were mostly an off line solution, handling the challenge of user interface in a very limited spectrum and functionality. Later, a consumer oriented solutions, using basic speech to text capabilities emerged (see the interesting timeline here)

Then the VPAs (Virtual Personal Assistant) came. Started with SIRI 5 years ago (see this youtube video) – a whole new world of possibilities started for – MAINLY – the smartphone vendors, offering a slightly different, yet still very clumsy way to perform limited action or command based, within the phone itself. As clearly described here, VPA’s today, and to some extent smart speakers (see below), are manufactured by companies with access to our personal data, putting (some of) our context – used during the process.

Recently, we are witnessing a huge growth in every aspects of the voice enabled solutions arena. In addition to the IVR based solutions, we start to see more designated VPAs – per domain or specific topic, see this product hunt list. While each product tries to provide its own unique service, still the focus is in a specific line of data, content or service.

Another, vastly growing domain is the smart speaker. As marked by Mary Meeker in her KPCB’s Internet trends 2016 report, Amazon Echo set the path to a blast of home based, interactive speakers, aiming at building an ecosystem (i.e. Amazon skills) around it, and generating huge interest by all major platform vendors. Google Home, Apple Home Pode, Microsoft’s Cortana based Harman speaker, Baidu’s “Little Fish”, Alibaba’s “Tmall Genie”, Line’s “Clova”, and more.

So, what is next? How will voice be used in more use cases, and market segments?

I would like to suggest 3 insights, to where voice solutions are developing:

  • Personalization. Voice will be used as a personalized platform for advertisers and publishers. We start to witness this trend with some attempts made by e.g. Amazon Echo where voice based purchased is available. Recent analyst reports (most relevant would be Mary Meeker’s 2017 edition of the Internet Trends), and other research agencies start to reflect this change (see for instance the Voice as SEO). Think of an interactive, personalized, voice based advertisement.
  • Transformation. Voice as a major contributor to Digital Transformation. It’s not new that major corporate organizations are eagerly looking for internal and external innovation and disruption, to support a better digital transformation. Voice will be used to support this change, by helping the organization provide a better service, improved internal data management and productivity.
  • Voice enabled IoT. Voice layers will be part of many interactions between the user and his \ her connected device. One can imagine a user speaking to his smart home control, refrigerator and any other sensor. Making voice interaction will be widely used, and not only focused on a certain commercial platform device (Smart speaker).

Voice is the new User Interface. There is no question about it. But as we are making so many exciting changes, and as voice interface is paving its way into the tech mainstream, some challenges remains:

  • Making the interaction intuitive for the user.
  • Building a positive user experience, for the voice interaction.
  • Making interaction accurate. This is probably the most important element, which will make voice work.

At Tukuoro, we believe that voice should be easily enabled as well as provide a great experience for the end users, anywhere they are. At home, in their car, when traveling to their next client visit, when generating report etc.

Reach out to us and learn how to make your interface Voice enabled.

Follow us to Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

Contact me for more;

30 Aug

Now is the time for European Corporate to embrace Israeli innovation.

amir Uncategorized 0 Comments

In the past few months I have been travelling to Europe several times, meeting with different market segment customers, and discussing some very interesting ideas with corporate representatives.

A couple of weeks ago Tukuoro attended the Viva Technology event in Paris, after being selected by Valeo Automotive to present Tukuoro’s innovative voice layer as part of its Tech Lab – “Automotive 2025”.

Europe is strongly embracing innovation.

In this short post I will share my thoughts and experience from Viva Tech, why I believe startups are playing a vital role and where are the opportunities for small companies (and for corporation).

There is nothing new with the notion that given the speed of which new technologies emerges and disrupt existing practice, the corporate organizations all over the world invest a lot of thinking (and resources) to better understand how they should adopt and incorporate these new technologies, to help them grow, but more importantly, to keep them still relevant.

One simple evidence is the growing number of a new, usually executive, role in almost every corporate company – Head of Innovation.

Applying new approaches, practices and technologies require intentional effort from the corporate and is never easy, yet seems that there is a growing understanding within these organizations that they have to change or cease existing.

During Viva Technology event, which took place in June, 2017 in Paris, it became very clear to me that the quest for new technologies is genuine. The event was packed throughout all hours of the day, from 9 am to nearly 8 pm.

Visitors kept coming, walking through the various vendor booths, labs and listening to different lectures. Though it was mostly French oriented, the entire event was in English, making all visitors and exhibitors from other places feel very comfortable.

Though exhibiting within Valeo, an automotive vendor leader, Tukuoro had numerous conversations with customers and partners of different segments, from retail, to financial, to IoT, transportation and many more.

Beyond the clear interest in Voice solutions through our conversation, it was my experience that the French visitors are ready to make business!

 Factory Berlin

I had the same experience during the 3 days TLVWeek workshop in Berlin, last December. Tukuoro took part in 3 days of presentations, talks, workshops and keynote, in the fabulous Factory Berlin, aiming at bringing local German industry and business leaders, together with local and Israeli startup founders – in the same place for direct, in formal talks about innovation.

During that event, we all witnessed the open approach for new ideas, innovative technologies and readiness for making changes, evaluating new concepts and making startup-vendors partnerships.

A similar atmosphere exists in other places through Europe, making it a great launch pad for every startup.

At Tukuoro, we believe that voice should be easily enabled as well as provide a great experience for the end users, anywhere they are. At home, in their car, when traveling to their next client visit, when generating report etc.

Reach out to us and learn how to make your user interface Voice Enabled.

Follow us to Twitter;

Contact me for more;

07 Mar

The Voice Revolution- Not only @home. Everywhere.

amir Uncategorized 0 Comments

Voice-is-the-new-UI-headerimage

Andrew Bartels wrote a great post recently — “Why buying Quip might be the best acquisition Salesforce has ever made”.

Andrew’s main argument was that Quip will become the new UI, due to the integration with big-data services and AI.

But it’s my opinion that there’s a catch. “Imagine a world where a Sales Professional could open an app on his notebook, tablet or phone and start taking notes”. The premise is that road warrior, sales people will type in their notes, allowing the smart virtual apparatus running in the background to kick in.

That will not happen and for a good reason. It has also never happened before either and for the same reason: The main obstacle is indeed the UI: Users do not type in everything they do. That’s the main problem Salesforce is facing. With mobile devices and smaller UI real-estate, the problem is much bigger.

So what is the missing link between the data input and the huge benefits of big data & AI?

A UI that works… and more specifically our voice UI.

We have witnessed a huge hype circling the Voice Enabled solutions. Alexa Skills and Google Home – the voice enabled devices; Virtual Personal Assistance for every specific usage you may think of and even in car Voice interaction system – for an improved driving experience. There are even some discussions about the nature of the voice of each helper.

But the change we experience in our interaction with the devices has to be beyond a very cool feature, which works in English mainly and could help me turn on the lights.

We all remember the CLI in the 70`s moving on to the GUI in the 90`s. Well, GUI had a good run for a couple of decades but clearly it cannot become a usable interface for users in the new era. The era where mobile devices are getting smaller (smartphones), wearable devices (smart watch, etc.) soon become a commodity and IoT devices, well, they don’t even have screen at all!

Another angle to this change in User Experience is the BOTs massive growth in many different usages and segments, mainly for consumer engagement (based on facebook and other platform) and some on Enterprise use (e.g. Slack). The BOTs are actually bringing the GUI back to the days of CLI phase – where users are required to actually type (text only input\output).

It’s only logical to assume that the next phase in human-bot interaction will be voice. Clearly the time has come for VUI – the Voice User Interface. For instance see  Mary Meeker’s recent state of the internet report: “Voice Should be the most efficient form of computing input”

Another impending discussion is whether voice can be a general good-for-all input interface (relying on semantics and AI in the background) or does it require specific context for each domain/application.

My view is that in order for VUI to be productive and reliable to its users, voice input processing must be used within a context.

It is one thing to expect a virtual assistance or home device to understand a specific, pre defined, narrow “command” or syntax such as “where is the nearest restaurant” or “turn on lights”. But it is something completely different to have it recognize accurately invented words, company’s internal lingo, people with accent or talking in the real world in a noisy environment (try using your in-car voice system with kids in the back).

Context is the main issue here. User’s voice input needs to be processed within its own context, be it the company, business related context, personal one, language and so on.

Only once VUI has become reliable and accurate, will it be used to improve productivity by the people on the go, the mobile workforce for every company size or domain, as well as by their customers.

End user’s adoption of new tech solutions for out-of-office or off-the-desk time are an everlasting challenge for any CRM and other customer engagement platforms. New suggested solutions, such as Quip which still rely on user typing data, simply won’t do the job. Executing AI and other analytics in the backend is great – provided that the data was inputted by the users. If we want to break the GIGO paradigm, we must provide a better way to input the data.

At Tukuoro, we believe that voice should be easily enabled and provide a great experience for the end users, anywhere they are. At home, in their car, when traveling to their next client visit, when generating report etc. Join us for the voice revolution, make your app Voice enabled.

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25 Feb

When you want to punish someone, just let them update!

amir Uncategorized 1 Comment

 

Updating has always been something that truly sucks! No matter how you look at it, it takes time (which you usually don’t have), and by that I mean is that no matter how much you try to plan your schedule and set the time to update, it always comes down to the end of the day (late night), the end of the month when someone is breathing down your throat and your self-conscience that drives up to speed when you finally need to update but have temporary loss of memory on some of the details.

To be honest, none of us are to blame. If you think of it, and I am talking about those of you who still remember the pre “everyone from birth has a mobile phone” period. We have been “brain-washed”, invaded by that instant technology that leaves us no need to remember those small things.

Ask me now, to spit out all my loved ones phone numbers, mobile and home and it would take me a while if at all to succeed, I hardly remember my own house phone number. Ask me what was my phone number in any of the houses I lived in 20 & 30 years ago, I remember each and every one of them.

BTW, each time my husband needs my phone number for a form or something like that, he asks me.  And being a classic woman my reply is: what would happen if he was in an emergency and had to call me – oh oh the look on his face.

There are a number of researches that study the changes in the human memory due to the increased technology in our life and this is not the place to get into it, even though it is quite bothering.  But it shows that we are used to the fact that once all the data we need is just there in the palm of our hands – there is just no reason to remember.

Now, let’s add updating which we love so much to the fact that most database platforms without offending any of the multi-million dollar companies are to say the least, not always as user friendly as they can be, the possibilities to report data are limited and may require time, manpower and attention alongside other adoption issues that are to some a bigger problem.

So, what happens today when you are driving somewhere and you remember you have not updated your kids that you would be late or that there is that doctors appointment that you need to schedule? Or even need an address of a restaurant? Well, wither you call, open and app (hopefully not while driving) and maybe use Siri or for your notes, a recording app.

Now back to business, what happens when you are just there on the go, running from one place to another? From one client to another, maybe covering 6-7 clients a day, or in case of being on the field service side, servicing many clients a day.

Just last week, SalesForce announced that “they are enabling service representatives and other field workers into the mobile era by giving them real-time access to the latest customer data on their mobile phones or tablets”. We think this is great, a great step into offering mobile workforce much more autonomy during their work day.

But, is it enough? Hmmm…well…almost! Even though allowing mobile workforce to be much more autonomous is great, the question that should be asked is what are the tools available to update or extract data? As having autonomy or not, time is still scrace.

Would you still need to take 5- 10 minutes after every meeting to update or make sure you save an hour at the end of the day for this? The answer is yes.

The world as we see it is moving forward immensely when it comes to technology and specifically when it comes to voice.

How about the following scenario? You are on your way to a meeting with a client and you want to get the basic information about them and you say OPEN SESAME (that’s code for – Tukuoro app to open), and then while driving or walking down the street, you are asked simple questions like: name… and abracadabra, you get all the information from the database straight into your ear. But that’s is not even the best part.

Let’s say you are done with a meeting, the first out of 5 you have in your schedule. In the car, open sesame and this is what happens:

You: Open Sesame

Tukuoro: opportunity/client name

You: Easter Bunny Ltd.

Tukuoro: contact name;

You: Mr. Bunny CEO

Tukuoro: Product

You: Easter eggs

Tukuoro: quantity

You: 1000 units

Tukuoro: Stage?

You: Issue proposal

Tukuoro: comments:

You: Mr Bunny is tough, likes carrots, yet Ms. Bunny is the decision maker. We set to touch base within 10 days.

You: done.

Yep, that’s it. So while driving your car, bicycle, walking, roller-skating, metro’ing, you can just talk…..and this app actually understands you – and saves the info to your database. (amir: or something ..)

It is not enough to have you speak and hope the other side understands you. For this to work and be your working buddy, it has to be in-context, it has to know your business “inner-slang”, no typo, no misspells, just talk and get it right the first time.

.

Once you end your day, get back home to your things whether it’s your family, gym, your favorite show on TV. Your update is safe and sound in the company’s database. You have received and email with the summary of the information, all other relevant personnel have been updated and even a proposal has been sent…just because you spoke to yourself in the car J

Now, how much is that worth for you? More extra time, less back-office work. And for your company? Business information flow becomes more accurate, and real-time.

Updating has always been something that truly sucks! It can suck less!

 

 

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