This week’s announcement that the BBC will develop their own voice assistant received mixed reactions, but for us at SoapBox Labs it underlines a number of realities and exciting opportunities for voice assistants and the voice industry as a whole: – Off-the-shelf voice technology still struggles to deliver on fundamentals like high accuracy for diverse accents. – Global brands are increasingly reluctant to trust big tech companies with their data. – Voice is too big and too important to remain a “one (or two) size fits all” ecosystem. Writing about the BBC’s news Dieter Bohn positions the ecosystem expansion opportunity well: “Imagine other worlds .. where AI-enhanced voice interactions are commonplace and not run through algorithms controlled by Amazon or Apple or Google. I can imagine those worlds, but it seems like precious few people are trying to build them”. And Dieter’s right. Companies like ours are still a rare breed, and voice assistants are just one of the myriad of applications we can apply our “precious” expertise to – in accents, in background noise, and in young kids’ voices. The BBC’s “Beeb” may not succeed but it sets the stage for even more exciting times ahead in the voice industry.

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