Editor’s Note: Rana Gujral is an entrepreneur, speaker, investor and the CEO of Behavioral Signals, an enterprise software company that delivers a robust and fast evolving emotion AI engine that introduces emotional intelligence into speech recognition technology. The thoughts and opinions expressed in this commentary are his own.
We’ve all asked our respective phones for directions, shopping tips, or music on demand. The voice user interface (VUI) is our digital chauffeur, butler, and DJ… but does it really understand us? How can we benefit from the next generation of emotionally acute artificial intelligence?
In other words, what’s in it for us?
Rather than allowing Alexa, Siri and the gang to just listen in on our conversations, we should be driving the narrative. By harnessing a better understanding of how voice first technology is advancing, we can stay on the cutting edge of the trend to reap the maximum benefits of these breakthroughs as consumers, users, and innovation enthusiasts.
Let’s face it: our devices could do a better job of listening. How many times have you asked the same question, three, four, or five times aloud before finally giving up and just typing it into your browser?
That’s why voice first technology is essential. It emphasizes the emotionality in the user’s voice and analyzes the pitch, tone, and frequency of not just what you’re saying, but also how you’re saying it.
It’s an important bridge to cross if we hope to forge a better relationship with our AI. An estimated 72% of consumers don’t fully understand how to interface with their voice recognition apps. Instead of blaming yourself, why not demand a better listener? Voice first technology is mapping the nuances of the human vocal landscape to harvest what is most important from the noises surrounding us every day. Machines are truly starting to listen, and these advancements could be the difference between life and death.
Voice First Responders
Imagine a 911 operator who not only contacts the necessary medical team to help you in an emergency but could also diagnose your health problems just by listening to the timbre of your voice. Well, there’s no need to imagine it, because software out of Copenhagen has engineered just such a digital reality.
Corti has developed an emergency response AI that senses the patterns of your breathing, the strain in your voice, and the modulations in your speech as you call for help. This VUI can provide early diagnoses for cardiac arrest, stroke, and other pressing medical traumas before the paramedics even arrive at your door.
Voice first technology is more than just a fad; it’s a life-saving endeavor that is leading the way to a healthier tomorrow.
Getting Emotional, Getting Intimate
VUIs isn’t all serious and somber like the medical applications described above; they are the toys with which we interact in our virtual playground of gadgets and revelry. Smart homes are equipped to keep us entertained from the moment we awake to the minute we tell the lights to dim (via voice-activated AI, of course), so honing a more intelligent interface can also enhance our home entertainment environment.
Consider the fact that 52% of consumers keep their smart device in the living room while an additional 25% report having their voice-activated assistant in the bedroom. These are the most intimate spaces in the home, and we are already inviting digital helpers into our inner sanctums. By utilizing the advancements of voice first technology, we might enjoy an even more vibrant interaction with our devices. Consider a CPAP machine that detects when your breathing patterns have become dangerously erratic or a speaker that knows when you’ve been crying and may need to call for help. These are just glimpses of a more emotional, reactive voice-activated home, and it is as welcoming as it has ever been.
Those closest to us can sense when we’re angry. Perhaps it’s the way we emphasize certain syllables, the inflection we put at the end of a sentence, or the blunt way we refuse to elaborate on our thoughts at all.
The machines closest to us are no exception.
Voice first AI can detect aggression in our speech patterns and react accordingly. If a hostile caller attempts to contact customer service, a program can quickly reroute that person to the appropriate representative, like a manager or complaint specialist. The last thing this person needs is a long wait time or sales pitch (or elevator music – yikes!), so voice first technology can save an already volatile situation from becoming explosive.
This is where you can benefit from the upgrades in VUI. By expressing yourself more openly to a so-called recording, you may actually be heard more fully than ever before. Your needs could be addressed more quickly and your problems resolved sooner than ever before. It’s a far cry from the tedium of being on hold that we have experienced since the dawn of telecommunications. Ring, ring – the future is calling!
Urgency and Emergency
One of the final frontiers of artificial intelligence is peering out at us from the highways that criss-cross our infrastructure. Self-driving cars are still looked upon with suspicion and driving laws will have to be completely rewritten to accommodate the smart vehicles of tomorrow.
Since politics move much more slowly than technology, voice first application can fill the gaps in the meantime. Automotive assistants are being groomed to act like co-pilots in the next chapter of our motorized adventures, and their emotional range will be essential in their accuracy and usefulness.
For example, if you ask your smart car for directions using traditional VUI, you’ll get a dry set of turns and distances that may help you along your route. But with a voice first system, your urgency is taken into consideration. If you ask for help, you may really need it – not just in terms of directions, but also in terms of health and safety.
If you are experiencing a medical issue, your smart car could redirect you to the nearest hospital. If you yawn excessively, your emotional AI will hear you and suggest that you pull over to the nearest hotel.
Fear, aggression, distraction – these are all hallmarks of modern motoring, but their disastrous effects could be mitigated with the right voice first application. It’s just another facet of this fascinating discipline, and it’s ready to listen to your role in the ever-evolving conversation.
Rana Gujral is an entrepreneur, speaker, investor and the CEO of Behavioral Signals, an enterprise software company that delivers a robust and fast evolving emotion AI engine that introduces emotional intelligence into speech recognition technology. Rana has been awarded the ‘Entrepreneur of the Month’ by CIO Magazine and the ‘US-China Pioneer’ Award by IEIE, he has been listed among Top 10 Entrepreneurs to follow in 2017 by Huffington Post. He has been a featured speaker at the World Government Summit in Dubai, the Silicon Valley Smart Future Summit, and IEIE in New York. He is a contributing columnist for TechCrunch and Forbes. Connect with Rana through his company or personal website, Twitter, or LinkedIn.