“Do you guys know how to deal with creepers”, my three-year old asked the Google microphone icon on her tablet, challenging Google with the mix of her southern accent, northern expressions and impatient speaking speed.

A few years ago, I realized the voice belonging to my then three-year old daughter had access to more information than anyone in the world had in the not so distant past. Granted, Brooks was only voice searching for Minecraft tips, but she did have access to all information indexed by Google.

Brooks couldn’t even spell yet, but she had the world at the tip of her tongue.

Telecom is not dead. It is evolving, rapidly. The telephone connected the 20th century. Voice is connecting the 21st century.

Not as phone calls but as a contextual part of multi-medium conversations, user interfaces, applications, identity, artificial intelligence and augmented reality services. Voice is the new voice.

Sprint Was 30 Years Early

Sprint sold us on pin-drop voice quality, but the reality was our brains didn’t need to hear the pin drop to carry on a conversation. Hence, the relatively failure of HD voice services (although I still have hope!), and the explosion of mobile voice. However, the artificial intelligence (AI) powering Google, Alexa, Watson and soon to be billions of IoT devices are not as adept as your brain at figuring out what you are saying when your sentences are incomplete, or your words are distorted. AI-based systems often do need pin drop quality, especially to be as self-learning as they potentially can be.

Separate Security is Insecurity

Security may be even more important than quality. Today, you provide confidential information by voice, and that will only increase and expand into areas such as voiceprints for identity and authentication. Just like AI-based systems can enable Google Search, Alexa and Watson, they can also be used to find, exploit and even create security holes, especially with the massive distribution of voice-enabled IoT devices and services. Voice is only the new voice if it is secure, and we feel the only way to secure voice is within solutions which are secure-by-design, with multi-layered, app-centric security, which doesn’t rely on external security layers for their protection.

The Internet and Open-Source is the Answer, Again

If voice is to connect the 21st century, then it must get the required quality and security over the Internet. Private networks don’t have the agility, reach and economics of the Internet. The Internet is not perfect either, but its deficiencies can be overcome with software. Crucially, there is an inherent feedback loop which can be leveraged for continuous adaption and improvement. Look for many of the software layers to be open-source derived, just like much of the software which the Internet is built on.

NetFoundry AppWAN for Watson and the IBM Voice Gateway

If voice is to connect the 21st century, then we need networking solutions which integrate those three aspects – quality, security and Internet extensibility. We believe that the NetFoundry AppWAN for Watson is one of those solutions, and we look forward to introducing it alongside IBM’s new Voice Gateway product today at IBM Interconnect. Together, the two products enable contact centers and enterprises to rapidly, securely and reliably take Watson voice services from prototype to production.

IBM Watson AI Artificial Intelligence Voice AppWAN AppWANs NetFoundry

Let’s Talk

If AppWAN for Watson can help you connect to Watson voice services, then we look forward to working with you. However, the preceding sentence probably ; ) doesn’t apply to everyone, and the purpose of this post is not to be an ad.

The future of voice is far more important, and I would love to discuss it with you. That conversation can certainly include text comments and counterpoints…part of the reason why voice will connect the 21st century is that it will be used, contextually, along with text, video, data and metadata. Voice is the new voice, but its evolution looks much different than its ancestors. My daughter is still not calling anyone for Minecraft tips, but her voice is still extracting those tips from the deep indexes of Google, often in the form of videos which she then listens to as she plays.

Originally published on LinkedIn Pulse.


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