Lucent and Unisys are teaming up on speech recognition, in an effort to spring the technology into the mainstream.
The pair are to integrate and jointly sell their speech recognition products and work on making it easier for software developers to write applications for the technology.
Both companies claim that the progression of speech recognition technology into everyday life has been slow because developing applications for it is a complex process requiring specialised skills.
Their aim is to simplify and advance the development of natural language speech telephony applications through an integrated software package.
Currently, telephony applications are limited to very basic language instructions spoken by the computer, such as "dial 1 for product information, dial 2 for technical support", and so on. Both companies intend to reverse this trend so that the user gives verbal instructions to the computer.
"Expect plenty of applications within the financial and banking sector - phone banking in particular (could benefit, so, for example, users would) select key words and phrases, like 'I want to open a new account'," said a Lucent spokesman. "This simplifies the customer experience and expands the potential for self-service applications."
The package, which will become available in March, will combine Lucent's text-to-speech (TTS) and automatic speech recognition (ASR) engines, developed by Bell Labs, and Unisys' Natural Language Speech Assistant (NLSA) Speech Assistant Toolkit.
EXTENDING THE INTERFACE
With the Unisys-Lucent products, developers will be able to extend the user interface for speech telephony products from the telephone's dial keys to an almost unlimited number of spoken choices. This is done through an easy-to-use set of development tools provided by the Unisys NL Speech Assistant toolkit. The NLSA toolkit generates the code required to allow the Lucent ASR to recognise what a person has said and turn it into text. The NLSA then interprets that text into a specific response.
For example, the user could tell the system "All right", "Yep" or "OK", all of which are interpreted into a "Yes". This process simplifies the creation and deployment of applications.
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