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September 25, 2019

Tech Giants Team Up to Make AI Voice Assistants Device-Agnostic

Jeff Bezos: "Multiple simultaneous wake words provide the best option for customers"

By CBR Staff Writer

A groundbreaking project, the Voice Interoperability Initiative, led by a host of major technology companies – including Amazon, Baidu, Intel, Microsoft, Orange, Salesforce, Sony and many others – aims to let customers access multiple different AI voice assistants on any device, just by saying its wake word.

In a striking example of genuine collaboration, the participants will make AI voice assistants from Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana, to Orange’s Djingo, or Salesforce’s Einstein device-agnostic; with chip firms Intel, NXP and Qualcomm developing hardware that supports multiple wake word engines.

We’re in the midst of an incredible technological shift, in which voice and AI are completely transforming the customer experience,” said Marc Benioff, Salesforce’s chairman. “We look forward to working with Amazon and other industry leaders to make Einstein Voice, the world’s leading CRM assistant, accessible on any device.”

Voice Interoperability InitiativeVoice Interoperability Initiative: Welcomed by Bezos

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos was also among those welcoming the initiative. He said: “Multiple simultaneous wake words provide the best option for customers… [who] can choose which voice service will best support a particular interaction.

“It’s exciting to see these companies come together in pursuit of that vision.”

The 30+ companies participating will work with one another “to ensure customers have the freedom to interact with multiple voice services on a single device”, they said. (Notable by its absence: Apple. The list also includes BMW, Bose,Spotify and Tencent.)

Amazon said in a release: “Device makers interested in supporting multiple, simultaneous wake words often face higher development costs and increased memory load on their devices. To address this, the Voice Interoperability Initiative will also include support from hardware providers like Amlogic, Intel, MediaTek, NXP Semiconductors and Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.”

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The Voice Interoperability Initiative has drawn a heavyweight list of participants.

Original design manufacturers (ODMs) like InnoMedia, Tonly and SGW Global; and systems integrators like CommScope, DiscVision, Libre, Linkplay, MyBox, Sagemcom, StreamUnlimited and Sugr, meanwhile will develop products and services that make it easier for OEMs to support multiple wake words on their devices.

Intel VP Ran Senderovitz said: “Giving people flexibility in how they interact with their PCs is foundational to a great user experience, and the mission of this initiative aligns with Intel’s Project Athena innovation programme. We are excited to collaborate to drive the industry to scale voice experiences beyond the many 10th Gen Intel Core based systems expected to launch with multiple voice assistants this year.”

Read this: Amazon Opens “App Store for Alexa” Up to UK Devs as Voice Booms

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