Nuance Hones Speech Recognition

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2004-02-04 Print this article Print

New versions of both its core speech recognition engine and its voice authentication software boost accuracy and performance as speech applications expand.

Nuance Communications Inc. on Tuesday rolled out updated versions of its speech recognition engine and voice authentication software with a focus on improved accuracy and performance. With Nuance 8.5, the speech vendors latest version of its namesake speech recognition engine, Nuance is promising a 50 percent reduction in errors in recognizing spoken commands and phrases. Such an improvement in accuracy results in fewer calls being routed to agents, potentially saving companies millions of dollars, said John Froman, a Nuance senior product marketing manager. The accuracy improvements resulted from Nuance honing its speech and acoustical models based on data from its customers running the engine, Froman said.
"Were able to gather more and more live customer data and caller data from all of our environments and leverage that data to improve the performance of our speech models," he said.
The latest speech recognition engine release also includes a new set of tools for analyzing calls and tuning the engine to better recognize and route calls based on spoken commands. The tools, called Nuance Analyze and Nuance Tune, were developed out of Nuances professional services group and are targeted at helping partners and customers tweak the engine for their speech applications. With more callers using wireless phones and voice over IP connections, Nuance, of Menlo Park, Calif., made improvements in its support for both of those types of connections to meet their specific background noise and packet loss issues. Competition in the speech industry is poised to grow with Microsofts plans to enter the market. Click here to read about its latest speech moves. Taking advantage of the core speech recognition engines accuracy gains, the new release of Nuances speech authentication software, Nuance Verifier 3.5, also is boasting a 15 percent accuracy improvement. Nuance Verifier 3.5, a biometrics security application, authenticates a persons voice against an encrypted "voiceprint," said Regina Carriere, a Nuance senior product marketing manager. Common applications include account management in financial services and health care, updating contacts in sales force automation, field service automation, and automated PIN resets. Verifier 3.5 includes better tuning capabilities by more clearly logging when users enroll their voice in the system and conduct a voice verification session, Carriere said. The improved logging can help reduce the time to deploy the application by as much as 25 percent, she said. Both Nuance 8.5 and Nuance Verifier 3.5 are available now for Windows 2000 and for Sun Solaris for SPARC systems. Both will be available for Sun Solaris for Intel systems in March. Pricing for Nuance 8.5 varies between $200 per port and $1,600 per port, depending on the functionality selected. Nuance Verifier 3.5 starts at $1,000 per port.
Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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