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Closing the Trust Gap in Voice

As a nascent field, the voice AI industry has largely operated without any widely accepted standards in the last few years. However, government scrutiny has raised concerns over how tech companies harness data through their voice assistants and the amount of control they have in the market. Recently, the European Union released a report on the competition concerns stemming from major voice assistants. As a result, companies are banding together to launch initiatives that ‘democratize’ voice: Matter, formerly Project Connected Home Over IP, will roll out devices later this year that are compatible with multiple assistants, and Amazon’s Voice Interoperability Initiative seeks to do the same. This week, the Linux Foundation’s launch of the Open Voice Network goes even farther in trying to establish comprehensive, open, and shared standards with a particular focus on data security and privacy.

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Setting the Standards

The Linux Foundation, an organization that focuses on scaling open-source projects, formally introduced the Open Voice Network (OVN). As custom and white-label voice assistants beyond Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri enter the market, the OVN will work to create standards and ethical use guidelines in areas including privacy, security, data ownership and control, interoperability, inclusivity, and hardware/software development for the voice industry. The network’s founding members include Target, Wegmans Food Market, Microsoft, and more. With the formation of organizations like the OVN, the industry is actively trying to tackle the issues that arise as smart devices become more ubiquitous and obtain more information. More on VentureBeat 

The Return of the Tamagotchi

The beloved Tamagotchi virtual pet toys are making their newest tech-driven comeback. The original toy was a small circular device outfitted with a screen and three buttons that children used to take care of the pet by virtually feeding, cleaning, and playing with them. This newest version now lives as a watch with voice features — users can “wake” their pet up with voice commands. In the future, the company behind Tamagotchi may introduce more voice commands as add-ons. Although the initial voice wakeup functionality is simple, it demonstrates how children’s toys and devices are embedding new technologies to create more exciting and engaging experiences. More on Voicebot.ai

The Funding Continues

Speech analytics company Aveni recently raised $1.5 million in its latest fundraising round. The startup provides a natural language processing engine to financial services companies for analyzing and transcribing client conversations. With the funds, Aveni will launch a new tool called Aveni Direct that will improve how employees interact with customers by identifying vulnerable customers and improving staff training and quality assurance. The funding will also help the company serve companies beyond financial services. As money continues to pour into call center and transcription startups, the potential for voice AI in this space expands. More on Aveni

Emerging Tech Stories

  • Windows Reworked. Microsoft’s new Windows 11 will be able to run Android apps downloaded from Amazon’s AppStore.
  • 2-in-1. Facebook patented an AR-enabled baseball cap (basically a pair of AR glasses attached to the cap brim).
  • Virtual Teleportation. Varjo’s Reality Cloud creates ‘virtual teleportation’ by scanning a 3D space and sharing it with others.

By The Numbers

39.1% of Americans said they are likely to shop using a virtual assistant. (data via CouponFollow)

25.8% of Germans own a smart speaker. (data via Voicebot.ai)

The Rise of Voice-Enabled Retail

Can voice assistants elevate the in-store customer experience? In Modern Retail’s latest article, RAIN’s Kristen Wong shares how Amazon’s use of smart earbuds and Alexa technology in its physical stores is setting the stage for a new paradigm of shopping.

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