Hi, I’m Maria Aretoulaki, VUI Designer (VUI: Voice User Interface), Computational Linguist, and CEO of DialogCONNECTION Ltd, a UK-based Consultancy on Language Technologies and Voice Recognition Applications.
I have been working on Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) applications and Voice User Interfaces (VUIs) since 1996. I specialise in envisioning, defining, designing, implementing, testing, breaking (!), tuning and optimising user interfaces 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 sentences rather than just isolated keywords, but also swearwords!). Thus, I have been working among other things on service conception, system persona design and branding, dialogue scripting , usability testing, functionality testing, and application tuning for several industries and verticals, but also for several languages (English, German, French, Greek).
I have designed speech-enabled or voice-activated services as diverse as telephone banking systems, Government Helplines and voice diallers. I have worked for industries as diverse as Banking, Telecom, eCommerce, and the British and German Governments, and for many different countries across Europe, but also the US and the UAE. Check out some of the companies and organisations I have worked with on my DialogCONNECTION Ltd website.
Originally from Greece, I have spent the last two decades between the UK and Germany, and I speak English, German, French, and of course Greek fluently.
I hold Linguistics, English, and Language Engineering 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 😀
Given that I have designed, tested, broken ;), and generally abused a hell of a lot of speech applications 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 Design Best Practice“. I have actually been shortlisted in 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. (I was actually listed first, but that was probably due to my convenient surname, ahem!). So that has given me I guess full authorisation to bestow you with my pearls of voice recognition wisdom!
Enjoy reading and commenting! 🙂