Print.IT - issue 47 - page 32

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Think how much easier it would
be for a physician to say ‘System:
update Mary Smith’s chart with
the following: Patient experiencing
abdominal pain, issue pharmacy
order for 200MG of SuperAntiGas,
signed Dr. FeelBetter’. Or, in
a conference room, instead of
struggling with a remote control,
just to say ‘System: turn on
projector, turn on TV and dim
Voice analytics firm VoiceLabs
has identified the various layers
needed to support a voice-first
approach in the consumer world.
But, to make the move from
simple, consumer-based use
cases to establishing a voice-first
environment in the enterprise world,
a few more things need to happen.
Security will be critical if
enterprise systems are to start
relying on voice commands –
should anyone be able to command
critical equipment or systems just
by speaking? The answer, clearly, is
no. Privacy, too, is a top concern.
And, while the physician example
above seems simple enough,
we need to think about this in
the context of regulations: are a
patient’s rights violated if verbal
commands expose their medical
information to third parties?
Secure access
We are already seeing voice
recognition technology used
for secure access, with banks,
for example, introducing voice
authentication to telephone banking
This may leave some customers
concerned about the security of
their account. But my feeling is
that voice-based authentication
will follow the adoption cycle we
saw in e-Commerce, where initial
concerns over credit card fraud
needed to be overcome before
there was a meteoric rise in online
purchasing. And we will continue to
see innovation in voice recognition
systems and improvements that
will make voice system security
viable in an enterprise environment,
so that only authorised users with
the right privileges can perform
associated actions.
That said, whereas your
microwave might not be spying
on you, some devices will be
always-on, always listening and
potentially recording, and a few
well publicised cases of privacy
invasion, commercial espionage
or legal jeopardy could still stall
adoption. This suggests that a big
On/Off switch or function needs to
be included in voice-first products,
giving users the benefits and
not the downsides of constant
monitoring. Secure software access
will also need to be in place in
these products to prevent and
detect hacking efforts.
Effective voice recognition
The first use cases of voice
recognition have mainly been in
voice response systems, whether
in a call centre or in our cars
and smartphones. As many of us
know from firsthand experience,
these work marginally at best and
recognition and contextualisation
need to be refined through
technological developments before
we can realistically think about
enterprise-wide adoption.
Research programmes, such
as Carnegie-Mellon University’s
Sphinx project, continue to enhance
language recognition capabilities.
An Internet Trends report by Mary
Meeker indicated that in 2016,
Google’s voice recognition system
could recognise over five million
words with around 90% accuracy,
but that’s still not extensive or
accurate enough. Is 90% accuracy
good enough to interact with a
utility provider’s network or a life
support system in a hospital?
It’s not just about recognition of
words; it is also about what to do
with those words, which is where
cognitive engines and AI come into
Solutions from some of the
biggest players in the industry –
e.g. Microsoft, with its open source
cognitive recognition engine – can
be leveraged to understand the
context of words. ‘How do I get to
Green Park?’ may sound simple
enough, but it needs to be put
With the popularity of personal assistants, such as Siri, Cortana and Google
Assistant, and new startups leveraging AI and analytics to build personal
companions, consumers are moving towards a new voice-controlled
relationship with technology. It is all but a given that voice-activation systems
will eventually make it into the enterprise environment, where they have the
potential to simplify and automate activities. Craig Walker, Director of Cloud
Services at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, explains what needs to happen before
the technology is trusted with mission-critical applications
Coming full circle:
are we returning to a voice-first world?
Whereas your
might not
be spying on
you, some
devices will
be always-
on, always
listening and
Craig Walker
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