The WITLINGO Voice First Channel

27 Jan

WITLINGO has launched the Voice First Channel on their website and on YouTube, featuring bitesized interviews with people working in Voice, both Veterans and Newbies.

A couple of days ago I contributed some thoughts myself and was later proud to be called a “Voice First OG”! 🙂 You can find my recording here and the transcript below:

Hi, I’m Dr Maria Aretoulaki, CEO of DialogCONNECTION, a UK-based Consultancy that I founded 12 years ago, specialising in Voice AI, Conversational AI, VUI Design & Conversational Experience Design.

I started working in Voice actually 25 years ago, first in Academia with Spoken Dialogue Management, then in Industry and Start-ups with VUI Design – mainly for Speech IVRs for Call Centre Automation. In the past couple of years, I’ve also designed the first German Bixby Capsules for Samsung, as well as some Chatbots for telecoms.

I feel proud that Voice has finally gone mainstream after decades of obscurity. For 20 years, I would be met with confusion every time I told someone what I did for a living. VUI Designers were definitely a niche profession! The advent of Voice Assistants certainly shot Voice Design to prominence and Speech Recognition into everyone’s pockets!

I am currently fascinated by the new possibilities that context and personalisation bring to Voice experiences, and I’m interested in how massive amounts of personal data are used to better understand what users say (Speech Analytics), but also predict what they want or need. Tightly coupled with this, is of course my interest in Ethics: how we get the user’s consent, how we protect user data, how we prevent bias in the data we collect and how we prevent nefarious uses of the data. It’s a fine balancing act!

DialogCONNECTION offers what I call Explainable VUI Design, that is Conversational Experiences that take into account both the technology, so, how Speech Recognition and ASR works, and how real users speak and type (i.e. Linguistics). Hint: they are both imperfect!

You can find me at (dialog spelt the American way, so without the -ue at the end), and you can also find me on Twitter, LinkedIn and several Voice Events and Podcasts.

Until then, have fun! 🙂

You, too, can contribute your thoughts here.

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