Speak Freely – Part I

by Eyal Inbar, Marketing, NEC Unified Solutions

100,000 years ago humans started to speak so they can free up their hands. Is it going to happen again? I’d love to get rid of my keyboard….

A few weeks ago I wrote this short sentence on twitter and got many comments back. I thought it would be a good idea to share a bit more about my view on speech and voice technology and the way I believe it will change the way we communicate

In some odd way, it turns out that technology took us back in time to some very old habits where we find ourselves communicating again with our hands, using the keyboards on our computers or cell phones. I believe that the same reasons that made humans move away from using their hands 100,000 years ago will be the main driver for going through that evolution once again – productivity and improved speed of communication. In the 21st century this will be driven by voice technologies that will extend our ability to speak not only with humans, but also with machines.

Why Speech? Why now?

The Ability to speak is one of the most basic capabilities that a human being has. A person with as low as 50 IQ can speak, a child will start learning words from almost his first day and will usually start speaking by the time he is 2 years old.

Considering that personal computers took off in 1975 with the introduction of the first PC kit (MITS), for many of us, typing is almost a second nature, but ask an older person or someone that has never seen a computer and he will tell you that there is no way typing is easier than talking.

Although it is not natural, with the evolution of technology and the integration of our personal computers to the network, internet and business processes, typing became much more productive and efficient than speaking.

Speech technology on the other hand, has been here for a long time, a promise that was never fulfilled, up until recently. Over the last few years speech took off in a major way. There probably isn’t a single day you go without putting it to use. Be it  your car’s and GPS system, your corporate office directory, you call to the airline booking desk when checking your flight status and more recently it is available on your cell phone and smart-phones applications such as Google Voice Search.  It seems as if it took off over night,

There are many technical reasons that made this possible including new innovations in the technology of speech recognition, standard protocols such as VXML, increased CPU power, mobile technology and more. I will not talk about any of those in this blog, instead, I’d like to share with you my view on the business reasons that made and will make speech and voice solutions so important for customers and businesses in the upcoming years.

Next time I’ll discuss how to connect with customers on a deeper level.