Hi, I’m Maria Aretoulaki, VUI Designer and Director of DialogCONNECTION Ltd, a UK-based Voice Design Agency providing Consultancy and Training on Speech IVRs (Interactive Voice Response Systems), Voice Assistants, Voicebots, Chatbots and Digital Transformation through Speech Recognition & Voice.

I have been working on Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) applications and Voice User Interfaces (VUIs) since 1996. I specialise in envisioning, designing, implementing, testing, breaking (!), tuning and optimising conversational dialogue systems that are robust but still not irritating to use!  I particularly love so-called “mixed-initiative dialogues“, where the user can drive the conversation as much as the system. I also focus on spontaneous speech (i.e. longer phrases and whole utterances rather than just isolated keywords, but also swearwords!). Thus, I have been working among other things on IVR persona design and branding, dialogue scripting , usability testing, functionality testing, and application tuning for several industries and languages (English, German, French, Greek, Italian, Spanish).

I have designed speech-enabled or voice-activated services as diverse as catalogue ordering self-service systems, tech & Government Helplines and newsreader voice skills. I have worked for industries as diverse as Banking, multinational Tech companies and Telecoms, eCommerce, the UK and German Governments, as well as the EU, and for clients worldwide

Originally from Greece, I have spent most of my life between the UK and Germany, and I speak English, German, French, and of course Greek fluently, but also have a working knowledge of Italian, Spanish and Portuguese (thanks to my Latin education!).

I hold Linguistics, English, and NLP degrees from The University of Athens (Greece) and The University of Manchester (UK) and I have also been paid by the EU to have fun at The University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (Germany) too! I love the EU 😀

LinkedIn IVR Group – I got listed in the Top 4 “real” VUI Designers in the world!

Given that I have designed, tested, broken 😉 and generally abused a hell of a lot of speech IVRs and voice user interfaces, I decided back in May 2010 to start writing about my (good and bad) experiences with them, in an effort to provide concrete tips towards “VUI & Voice Design Best Practice“. I have actually been listed as one of the Top 4 “proper” VUI Designers in the world (!!) on LinkedIn, along with the biggest names in the field who have authored some of the classic books on the subject. (My topping the alphabetical list is certainly one of the advantages of my surname, ahem!).

book cover

Ubiquitous book cover

In 2018, I also had an article published in the latest textbook on Voice, “Ubiquitous Voice: Essays from the Field“, a series of intimate, eye-opening and inspiring contributions from some of the biggest names and veterans in the field. In 2019, the book came out on Kindle too, so our reach is now even bigger! 🙂

So, all this has given me, I guess, full authorisation to bestow you with my pearls of VUI and #VoiceFirst wisdom!

Enjoy reading and commenting! 🙂

3 Responses to “About”

  1. Ron Owen August 7, 2016 at 1:32 pm #

    Great unanswered questions!


  1. 2010 in review – Not bad at all :) « VUI Design, Speech Recognition Apps & all that - January 3, 2011

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  2. A proper blog! « VUI Design, Speech Apps & all that - May 12, 2010

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