Named on of Business Insider’s top 75 Designers in Technology, Karen Kaushansky has been working in the voice industry for over 10 years! Karen will be discussing multimodal interfaces and the future of voice at the Smart Voice Summit, Europe’s first event dedicated to voice technology. We caught up with Karen to talk about voice industry milestones, her dream feature for designing voice apps and more!
Please tell us a bit more about yourself.
I started my career as a Voice User Interface designer in 1996. Over the years, I moved from designing telephone based voice experiences to general device or consumer electronic experiences. Today I describe myself as an Experience Designer helping companies design experiences and products with current and future technologies including speech recognition, voice biometrics, augmented/mixed reality, autonomous driving and artificial intelligence.
You have been in the voice industry for over 10 years, what have been the major industry milestones?
At a very high level, there are 2 areas that have really helped us get to where we are now, the ability to design voice experiences fill users’ needs and work much better than they used to:
1) The move from static, directed dialogs to natural language grammars; moving from dialogs that had to be pre-programmed with each word and step, to moving towards more conversational, user driven dialog. We’re not there yet, but this lets users interact and say what they want instead of specific commands at certain times.
2) The ability to build experiences from the ground up with hardware and software designed together in one experience; where speech is integrated into the experience from the start. This includes technology advances such as processing power that let’s us know to wake up our devices with wakewords, and embedded and cloud based recognition. Building these frictionless experiences into hardware such as Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple TV is why people are finally realizing the opportunities that lie ahead.
You recently moved to Europe, what do you think of the voice ecosystem over here compared to the US?
I know there have been telephone based voice systems here in Europe for a long time, but now with Amazon Echo and Google Home, we will see very quick growth. One thing to consider in Europe is that the learning curve to design and develop should be shorter than the US; hopefully you can learn from what’s been done right, and done wrong in the US, and create better experiences out of the gate. On the other hand, there are challenges to deal with in Europe from the start around localization and culture. Working with designers and researchers with expertise in this area will help.
What excites you most with regards to the future of voice?
I’ve been working with some clients pushing the boundaries of voice and I’ll share some insight into the future during my talk at the Smart Voice Summit 🙂
What would be your dream feature for designing voice applications?
We still have a ways to go with building personalization and intelligence into our experiences; and voice is likely just one way to interact. The dream is to build a truly smart assistant that knows me, can act on my behalf, with little or no setup.
What are you most looking forward to at the Smart Voice Summit?
As you mentioned, I recently moved to Europe from San Francisco. I’m looking forward to meeting and sharing ideas with the European community and building a local network here.
Make sure you voice strategy is on form for 2018, reserve you spot at The Smart Voice Summit now!