The Voice-Enabled Mobile Personal Assistant--Part of a Chain Reaction?

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The annual Mobile Voice Conference (MVC, in San Francisco, March 12-14, organized by the Applied Voice Input Output Society (AVIOS) and TMA Associates, addresses the use of voice technology such as speech recognition in commercial applications. Interest in the conference this year is driven in part by the success of Apple's Siri voice-driven personal assistant and similar capabilities being added to phones with other operating systems, as well as the spread of this "intelligent agent" behavior to other markets.

March 12 - 14, 2012 - San Francisco, CA

Mobile devices and speech interaction drive new business opportunities

The flexibility and acceptance of Siri leads to a question: How did speech recognition suddenly get so good after years of what most observers have viewed as mediocre success at best? Most consumers have encountered speech recognition when they called a customer service line and usually found the interaction only marginally better than pressing touch-tone keys. What caused this "tipping point," where flexible speech recognition is beginning to grow not only on mobile phones, but in automobiles, for controlling TV, playing games, providing better customer service, and more?

The truth is that, while Apple may have driven realization of the maturing of speech technology, the current state of the technology has been driven not by a single tipping point, but more by a chain reaction of tipping points that built up to the point of explosion, according to Bill Meisel, president of TMA Associates and the MVC program organizer.

In technology, Meisel claimed, an accumulation of "tipping points" (re Malcolm Gladwell's best-seller) can work together to create a chain reaction that spreads in multiple directions and markets. Speech recognition in particular is in the middle of such a chain reaction. The result will drive fundamental changes in many markets.

The beginning of the chain reaction for speech technology is a combination of improving wireless connectivity, growth in the use of smartphones, pervasive use of the Web, lower cost of computing power to support compute-intensive processes such as speech recognition, the growing variety and complexity of web sites and applications, a steady improvement in the underlying core speech technology, and the growing availability and variety of labeled speech data to build better speech recognition models. The continuing explosion in the use of speech technology is the result of three key factors:

(1) Enthusiasm for a user interface innovation that is particularly effective on small devices such as a mobile phone or when hands-free use is safer and more convenient (e.g., when driving);

(2) The over-burdening of the Graphical User Interface by growing web and app variety (particularly evident on small devices); and

(3) The simplicity, efficiency, and generality of the personal assistant model ("just say or type what you want, and get directly to the answer").

The Mobile Voice Conference, coming up shortly, provides attendees with information to help them take advantage of the rapidly developing opportunities created by the chain reaction in the use of speech technology. It covers the implications of this development in many areas, including marketing, enterprise use, and customer service. The talks provide examples of how to apply this development successfully in your business and resources for doing so. The detailed program is available at In one innovation, the first day of the conference, Vendor Day on Monday, March 12, is free.

About the Applied Voice Input Output Society

AVIOS is non-profit organization promoting the speech technology industry for over a quarter-century. For more info, see

About TMA Associates

Bill Meisel's TMA Associates publishes Speech Strategy News, a no-ads, paid-subscription newsletter with 225 monthly issues so far. TMA also provides consulting services in practical applications of speech technology and associated market development. See

AVIOS: Peggie Johnson, 408-323-1783, Peggie(at)avios(dot)org
TMA Associates: Bill Meisel, 818-708-0962, b.meisel(at)tmaa(dot)com

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Peggie Johnson
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