Voice interoperability movement is gaining momentum, thanks to Linux



“The future of voice assistance will be multi-assistant, multi-platform, multi-device, multi-modal and multi-use.”

Imagine using the same device to control Google Assistant to book tickets, Alexa to play a song, and Cortana to schedule a meeting in Outlook. The voice interoperability initiative was first launched by Amazon in 2019 with the support of 30 companies (now 80) including global brands like Baidu, BMW, Bose, Microsoft, Salesforce, Sony and more. Today, companies like Facebook and Intel are part of this initiative. For example, Facebook’s video calling service, Portal, also supports Alexa. Qualcomm, which is also part of Amazon’s interoperability initiative, already allows its chipsets to run on multiple wake word engines to run simultaneously on a single device.

With the increasing use of chat assistants, these initiatives could not be better. Now the Linux Foundation wants to step in. The organization believes there is a ‘trust gap’ raising critical issues of privacy, data security, ease of use, brand protection, interoperability and equal and impartial access for all .

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To establish voice interoperability and standardization and gain user confidence, the foundation recently launched the Open Voice Network (OVN). The Open Voice Network is an independently funded and managed nonprofit industry association that operates as a fund run by the Linux Foundation. The founding members of OVN are Target, Schwarz Gruppe, Wegmans Food Markets, Microsoft, Veritone and Deutsche Telekom.

The goal of voice interoperability initiatives is to provide customers with choice and flexibility through multiple interoperable voice services. The Open Voice Network in particular is guided by four values:

  • Trusted by users
  • Allow choice of user, ecosystem and architecture
  • Inclusive and accessible
  • Open in software and hardware, serving as the basis for business differentiation

Benefits of voice interoperability

  • Businesses or designers will be encouraged to work together to ensure customers the freedom to choose multiple voice services on a single device.
  • This simplifies end user requirements by allowing design consistency to reduce development effort.
  • Developers and device manufacturers will be committed to protecting the security and privacy of customers interacting with multiple voice services.

The OVN community says voice will soon become a common interface for all digital devices. But experts have started to wonder if automated speech recognition technology might fall short of its potential for acceptance and value to the business. According to Mike Dolan, senior vice president of the Linux Foundation, voice is expected to soon become a primary mode of communication with the digital world by connecting millions of users across billions of sites, smart environments and AI bots. It has already been used beyond smart speakers; in automobiles, smartphones and home electronics. “The impact of voice on industries such as commerce, transportation, healthcare and entertainment is staggering and we are excited to incorporate it into the Linux Foundation’s open governance model to grow the community and lead the way. to be continued, ”Dolan said.

“Speaking is human, and voice is quickly becoming the primary modality of interaction between users and their devices and services at home and at work.”

Ali Dalloul, Managing Director, Microsoft Azure

As voice assistants depend on technologies such as Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR), Natural Language Processing (NLP), and Machine Learning (ML), more devices and services can interact openly and effectively. safe with each other. In 2019, Amazon even came up with a multi-agent design that would allow users to interact with multiple assistants with multiple wake-up words. The Linux Foundation believes consumers and businesses can leverage technologies like conversational AI for customer service, commerce, and more. According to the press release, the Open Voice Network:

  • Commit to researching and providing recommendations for standardization of attributes to enable user choice and confidence.
  • Create industry-level awareness by identifying and sharing conversational AI best practices.
  • Collaborate with industries on relevant regulatory and legislative issues, including those of data privacy.

Going forward, the Linux Foundation aims to market its open governance model to a wider community to accelerate the deployment and adoption of conversational AI standards.

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