Technology | 03-04-2021 | Urvi
A few years back say before a decade, you may have never thought that you will be answered for the voice commands you send and a set of tasks will be performed in its response. At that point, it may have seemed to be an impossible thing but, things have changed and artificial intelligence has made many things possible that we never imagined will ever exist.
Voice assistants have now turned out to be an integral part of our day-to-day lives. The lack of time and ease of use has made virtual assistants better partners for humans when it comes to scheduling and accomplishing tasks. They are just virtual friends ready to help people when needed.
Before we get any further, let’s see what virtual voice assistant is about.
What is a voice assistant?
A voice assistant is a software solution that can perform a set of services or tasks based on the incoming verbal commands. Say, for example, it can interpret and understand human speech, and based on that, respond in electronic voices. Users can make use of voice commands to control automation devices at home, ask voice assistants questions, use voice to play music or media, and use verbal commands to send emails, open or close applications, check for today’s to-do list, and similar basic tasks.
How to develop a virtual assistant for your business?
You need to start by coming up with an idea. The idea needs to be yours and it should be well-thought-out. You should be having a proper detail of the final product and clarity on what value you expect to deliver in the end. So the best way to start working is by building an MVP and releasing it. This will save you a lot of time and money and you will be able to scale the product as needed and make improvements in the future.
Once you have done it, you need to find the software development provider who can take care of your project needs by understanding your business and user preferences.
Plan app strategy for your voice assistant
There should be a specific goal for the voice assistant that you plan to create and it should focus on a specific target audience. Some of the voice assistants help with daily tasks like Google Assistant while there are some others, that are work-related like Cortana. So at this stage, you are supposed to decide what you plan to offer to the users, and based on that the future features can be discussed and finalized.
In case you have no much idea about in which direction to proceed, you can do a bit of research to understand the areas like which tasks are more time-consuming for the users to get done daily. Based on your findings you can have the voice assistant help you automate it. For the same reason, it is important that app development should include the users’ preferences too. The way voice assistant can help with the tasks, duration of pauses, manner of speaking, the tone of the voice- everything matters to the user when it comes to the conversation.
The main idea here is to come up with a solution that is user-friendly rather than coming up with a technology-driven one. By using it the users should feel that they are having a similar experience as when talking to their friends. In short, they should be comfortable using it when needed.
You need to be sure that developing the voice assistant should not be just for the business; rather it should also keep the end-user in mind as they will be ones using them again and again.
Use AI tools and custom APIs to integrate a voice assistant to your app.
It is recommended to go for an existing voice assistant like Google and Siri by adding and integrating it. Let’s try to understand them a bit.
Unlike Siri, Google does not come with any restrictions in terms of design, and the developers are not stopped by a set of imaginations. You can make two ways of AI assistant with it – Voice Actions and Google Now.
You can use Voice Action API after you register and create the possibility to make use of voice commands on your computers and phones so as to let users use it. Compared to Google Now this is simpler but, it can only understand and perform requests based on voice recognition. To use the Voice Actions you need to follow specific requirements where you will have to register an app and get it approved on Play Market. If we compare with Siri, the approval process is shorter here.
Google Now is a technology-driven voice assistant that can process and complete the user requests after understanding and analyzing it. However, a limited number of apps have got the chance to use Google Now and use special APIs to create their own Now cards.
In 2016, a special tool named Apple SiriSDK was launched and this has made it possible for third-party apps to make use of it. The SDK offers Siri integration with two types of extensions – intents UI which controls the brand visually and offers the user interface with custom content and intents which are responsible for carrying out tasks like messaging and calling.
The intents extensions are actually the tasks that are requested by the user. The system considers them as classes that contain set properties and process them. It will not be possible to add some creative things to it as certain design restrictions are set by Apple.
Add important features
In case you plan to create the AI voice assistant from scratch, you will need to fulfill some requirements and they are:
The TTS process is all about converting the text data into human speech and providing it to the user. This can be anything like a weather report or some latest information on tournament scores. Here CMU Phoenix program is used as the tool.
Voice/speech to text
As software agents, voice assistants can process digital messages only. So the voice tasks given by the users to the software are converted into text so that it can be performed after analyzing. You can use the software named CBU Phoenix to implement this process.
Phones are not used within the confinement of walls. People use it anywhere and everywhere and mostly this happens in crowded places. This feature is all about ensuring the AI assistant hears the voice perfectly even in the presence of all noises running in the background. Here noise control completely eliminates or at least minimizes the sounds that are not coming from the user giving commands.
The effectiveness of the voice assistant app is defined at this stage. The AI technology will try to understand the request coming from users, will interpret it, and will accordingly give answers. In the response, elements that seem to be relevant to the user are tagged. As the voice assistant gets smarter, it understands the preferences of users better and the answers seem to be more relevant.
In case a voice recognition technology is not added in your voice assistant, chances are more that users may not be clear about the assistant and this can lead to wrong answers. The use of voice recognition will even prevent the voice assistant from creating situations where it responds to the voices of animals or sounds coming from TVs.
The response to a user request is received as a voice interface and it can be anything like a voice, screen, the way of speaking, etc. All such things work together to create user experience as the user expects a high-level service apart from just an answer. So just think about the situation where a user can get feedback in the way of audio and visual representation.
Compress the speech
This feature ensures that the answer is delivered quickly to the user. The communication with the user is recorded on a server and this has to be a safe and reliable one. To avoid losing data, it is recommended to follow the G.711 standard.
Popular examples of virtual voice assistants
As seen above, Siri comes from Apple. This cloud software works on voice processing mechanism to give recommendations and answers to the users for their various queries. In order to follow an individual approach to each user, it studies individual preferences. It comes with SiriKit which can be used to smoothly integrate any new application developed for watchOS and iOS platforms.
Amazon Echo is a combination of software and hardware in itself and it works by playing different sound files and scheduling upcoming tasks based on voice recognition. Here the device comes with small speakers and you can activate it by just calling “Alexa”.
Bixby comes from Samsung and it is another successful AI implementation you could see in the market. Bixby uses the camera to identify the images and makes use of advanced voice recognition mechanisms.
This software works to reduce the physical effort needed to find a solution for general daily chores people do. The personal interaction and utilization make Nina smarter with each passing day.
It is a virtual assistant who is intelligent and even comes with AI elements and voice recognition. This software has been developed for platforms like Windows, Android, iOS, and Xbox One. Based on the search requests, emails, and others coming from users, it predicts the user’s needs and wants. Sense of humor can be considered as one of the distinguishable features of Cortana.
OK Google has been developed for Android devices and this voice recognition application works by saying the same words as commands. This software offers advanced features like route optimization, web search, scheduling, etc. all of which together can help the user accomplish a number of daily tasks.
Virtual assistants seem to be an appropriate addition to the web and mobile applications. Every business work towards understanding the target audience and solving a prominent issue they face in their life. Virtual assistants work as front runners whom your audience can contact to get some information about their queries. Unless and until there is a complex task to handle, virtual assistants work well for businesses.