Taking Voice Technology Beyond Commands

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O’Reilly Velocity

This week members of IBM’s Emerging Technologies team attended O’Reilly Velocity in New York City.  The Emerging Technologies team had a big presence at the conference, delivering a keynote, a session, as well as having a booth at the conference where we highlighted IBM’s cloud platform called Bluemix.


During the conference we highlighted a project the team has been working on using voice to interact with technology.  While we are not yet at the point where we can interact with something like HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey, we are making strides in what voice technology can do.  Take a look at how voice technologies like Siri (Apple), Alexa (Amazon), Contana (Microsoft), and Google Now have changed the way we interact with our phones and tablets.  Without lifting a finger we can get traffic information, schedule meetings, and add tasks to our ToDo lists.


Obviously in Emerging Technologies team we want to take voice technology further than just issuing commands to our phones and tablets.  The good news is that at IBM we have Watson.  Watson is one of the main components to IBM’s efforts in voice technology.  You can already see this in the Speech to Text and Text to Speech services available on Bluemix.  However, Watson can do far more than interpret speech and written words, Watson is all about being cognitive, it can learn (and sing, as we saw in this commercial with Bob Dylan).  With Watson and IBM’s powerful analytics portfolio, we can start to imagine scenarios where you have a more natural and thoughtful conversation with technology.

Imagine a scenario where you wake up in the morning and you want to know more information about how your stock portfolio is doing, so you open your laptop, head to your portflio website and start looking at how your investments are doing.  Unfortunately, today you notice that one of the stocks you had invested in had a bad day on the market and you want to know why.  You are probably going to open up another browser window and start Googling recent news about the company.  At this point you probably are going to start asking yourself a bunch of questions.  Is it time to sell the stock?  Should you buy more on the downswing?  Or maybe you should just continue the course.  The internet itself is not going to give you the answers to those questions, time to call your financial advisor!

Now imagine if you could do all this via voice backed by cognitive analytics!  You wake up in the morning sit down with a cup of coffee, and ask you tablet to tell you about your portfolio.  You immediately hear about the stock that wasn’t doing so well, so you ask your tablet to find recent news about that company and it reads you the highlights.  Then you ask your tablet to give you some advice about what to do about the stock.  By doing some analytics on the news, and historical data about the stock, it gives you a suggestion about possible actions you might want to take.  Pretty cool right?

Watch the video below where David Boloker, an IBM Distinguished Engineer and IBM Emerging Technology CTO, gives a live demo of the project the Emerging Technologies using voice technologies.

You can also watch David’s sit down interview with Mike Hendrickson from Velocity where he talks about the importance of voice technology, cognitive computing, and the cloud.

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