Happy New Year!

Can you believe that 2010 is soon to end (already ended in Asia)?!

What a wild ride it’s been for InsideCTI. Thank you so much for all your support this year.

Here’s wishing all our readers, sponsors, and guest authors a prosperous and CTI-enabled New Year!!!

Can Apple re-invigorate speech industry?

We’ve all interacted with “them” before — speech-enabled machines to help us navigate IVR menus or take us to a customer service representative. You probably spoke to these machines ten years ago, saying the same words or phrases, to achieve the same results. And today you’re still repeating those words, doing the same things.

In other words, what has speech technology brought us?

Thanks to the miniaturization of processing components, speech recognition software now fits in the palm of your hand such as a mobile phone. Both Android and iOS platforms have some built-in speech capabilities, albeit not very refined. Then there are third-party applications such as Dragon Dictation (made by Nuance) and Siri (acquired by Apple) that complements the operating system’s speech capabilities.

There may be renewed interest in speech tech especially in the mobile consumer space. Recently Apple has been recruiting for speech application engineers, speech recognition engineers, and speech research scientists. And they want people who are already familiar with products like Nuance Recognizer, IBM WebSphere Voice, and Google Voice Search.

Apple is known to propel certain technologies into the mainstream. Maybe 2011 will be the year of speech tech, and one day a business will be able to run a speech IVR on the Android platform.

Inside look at insideCTI (and Merry Christmas!)

I started insideCTI blog in January 2010 and now nearly an year later, I am still amazed at how much this part-time venture has grown and the support I’ve had received through these months. This blog started out as an outlet for my personal and professional passions: writing and contact center tech. I am very thankful to all of you readers.

Have a Merry Christmas!!!

Here’s an inside look at insideCTI in 2010:

Visitors: about 9,000

Average time on site: about 1 minute

Readers from 106 countries, top 5: USA (58%), Canada (6%), UK (5%), India (3%), and France (3%)

Top 5 browsers: IE (40%, yuck), Firefox (30%), Chrome (17%), Safari (12%), and others (1%)

Top 5 operating systems: Windows (75%), Mac (18%), Linux (3%), iPhone (2%), and iPad (2%)

Top 10 most popular posts:

  1. Teleku joins Tropo and Twilio in competitive web telephony
  2. The real missing Lync: No Windows Phone 7 integration?
  3. Guest post: Four simple rules for new technology evaluation
  4. Aspect vs. Avaya, round one
  5. AudioCodes enables SIP phones with Microsoft OCS
  6. Loquendo’s mobile TTS and ASR offering now complete
  7. An Avaya tablet?
  8. VoiceCon: How will video kill the voice star? A look at Avistar, TANDBERG, and Vidyo
  9. Cisco and Genesys sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g…
  10. Genesys certifies CounterPath Bria softphone

As always, feel free to hit me with news tips, comments, suggestions, advice, etc. My contact info is on this blog and on the major social media sites.

Remember to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and RSS. (And if you’re also a gadget freak, follow my other blog gagagadget on Facebook, Twitter, and RSS. We’ll be covering CES 2011!)

Apple interested in Nortel patents?

Nortel may have fallen, but its intellectual properties still hold some good value, according to this Reuters report.

Bids are soon due for the patent portfolio of Nortel Networks and among those interested is Apple, propelled by the success of the iPhone to become a relatively new entrant in telecom:

The patents cover wireless handsets and infrastructure, as well as optical and data networking, Internet, Internet advertising, voice and personal computers.

The patents likely to draw the most attention relate to third- and fourth-generation wireless technology such as Long Term Evolution, with device-makers such as Research In Motion, Motorola, and Apple seen as likely bidders.

Of course, Google is in the bidding too. These Silicon Valley tech giants have become a major driving force in the convergence of computing and telecom. Both Google and Apple have enough cash on hand to start a bidding war as well, and we all know that these two companies have evolved from friends to competitors recently.

A bidding war between Google and Apple for Nortel patents — now that’s what I’d call entertainment!

High school students develop better emotion detection algorithm

Speech recognition systems today have come a long way. It’s nowhere near the holy grail of natural language understanding, but good enough to apply in human-machine interactions such as the IVR. Now there’s even speech systems which will detect human emotions.

It’s actually very useful in the contact center application. For example, if the IVR can detect anger soon after a caller mutters some words, then the system can be designed to bypass the rest of the menus and automatically send the caller to a supervisor. Hopefully then the supervisor can immediately address the source of the anger. A much better experience for the caller — and for the tier 1 agents too, since nobody has to endure the time spent with this agitated caller. The escalation process is automatically initiated without agents transferring the caller around…

Two Oregon Episcopal School students decided that they can do better to come up with a new algorithm to detect emotion in speech. Well, they were right, and now Akash Krishnan, 16, and Matthew Fernandez, 17, will each be $50,000 richer after winning the grand prize award for their entry, “The Recognition of Emotion in Human Speech.”

Just how much better was their algorithm?

The team was inspired by the movie “I, Robot,” in which a robot can sense when its user is under stress. Using an emotional speech database with 18,215 files and five emotions (anger, positive, neutral, emphatic, rest), the team developed, trained and tested a classification engine to determine emotions from an input signal. The team achieved a 60 percent accuracy rate in identifying emotions versus 41 percent with a previous award-winning system. Their work has a broad range of applications from autism research to computer games and lie detection.

Dear Akash and Matthew: It’s never too early to create a LinkedIn profile. I, for one, cannot wait to see your work in real-world applications especially in the contact center. We all know there’s room for improvement in that area…

There may be hope for RIM after all with TAT acquisition

The Astonishing Tribe (TAT) is, well, astonishing. In that it’s a global company with teams of visual designers and UI experts. Never heard of them? You should if you’re an Android user.

It’s no secret that I’m a BlackBerry skeptic with its much-hyped PlayBook tablet and yawn-inducing smartphone designs. However, with the acquisition of QNX and now TAT, perhaps RIM is on its way to recovery after admitting it has a real problem and will now address it.

A very bold and good move, in my opinion. The PlayBook doesn’t do much for me, but knowing that TAT will now be involved in the process actually makes it a product to look forward to.