Until recently, it was hard to imagine voice technology surpassing the usability of many real-world applications, in real environments. However, we can already see how speech recognition systems change the way we interact with machines like they do with Siri, Google Assistant, and Cortana.
More and more businesses are looking into speech recognition, following its wider use in common devices like desktop computers and mobile phones. This guide shows how speech recognition technology works, the potential benefits for your business, and, most importantly, how you can add it to your service.
Table of Contents
- What is Speech Recognition?
- How Does Speech Recognition Work?
- What are the Benefits of Voice Recognition?
- Why Business Should Start Thinking About It
- Different Ways to Implement Speech Recognition on a Website
- How to Implement Speech Recognition on a Website for Non-Programmers
- How to Implement Speech Recognition with Alan
What is Speech Recognition?
Speech recognition is the ability of machines to recognize words and phrases in spoken language and transform them into computer-readable data. In other words, technology-speech recognition moves spoken input into computer systems.
The technology is being used to replace conventional methods of input, like typing, clicking, tapping, or selecting, in other ways. Interaction modalities, such as a normal or touch-screen keyboard and mouse, have been in use for a long time. However, in comparison to speech recognition software, these methods are far less convenient.
Speech is a skill that people are naturally equipped with, and it’s the basis of daily human-to-human communication. Thus, the ability to speak with a machine has become a highly desirable interaction modality on a variety of devices.
How Does Speech Recognition Work?
Speech recognition software works by breaking down the audio into individual sounds. Then, each sound is analyzed using algorithms, matched to the most probable word fit, and transcribed into text.
This technology is powered by natural language processing (NLP) and deep learning neural networks. The former is responsible for analyzing, understanding, and deriving meaning from human language. The latter is meant to teach a computer to filter inputs based on a sufficient amount of training data in order to eventually predict and classify information.
Even though it sounds simple on the surface, it involves multiple, intricate processes taking place at lightning speed. With time, these systems become quicker and more accurate- in many cases, better than any human can.
What are the Benefits of Voice Recognition?
Some of the most prominent advantages pushing voice recognition into prominence among businesses are:
- Flexibility – Voice recognition isn’t linked to a single device. Therefore, it can have a variety of uses, ranging from AI assistants to buying products and services using only voice.
- Ease of use and implementation– Voice applications provide an intrinsically comfortable, easy-to-use, and efficient way for users to interact with a computer. Plus, it’s not complicated to enhance an already existing app with this functionality.
- High-reliability rate and speed – Modern solutions can handle tasks with increasingly higher complexity while taking very little time.
- Hands-free experience – Voice-operated platforms allow users to navigate applications when they can’t do it otherwise.
- Accessibility for visually- and hearing-impaired – Many people rely on screen readers and text-to-speech dictation systems, so you will be able to ensure accessibility for a wider audience.
Why Business Should Start Thinking About It
Examples of the uses of speech recognition in industries are extremely varied. Companies have started exploring ways in which this technology can be utilized to help improve their customers’ experience, and great customer experience leads to higher profitability. Some industries that can reap the benefits of voice recognition abilities include:
- HR and marketing
- IT and telecommunications
- Travel and hospitality
- Automotive and a lot more
Let’s take an example of a financial service using voice recognition for their app. Customers can conveniently check their account balances, hear payment dates and the amount due, obtain account transaction history, and make payments. All these operations can be achieved without the dullness of calling a contact center or fiddling with the app.
Different Ways to Implement Speech Recognition on a Website
Fundamentally, speech recognition usually consists of two elements – a client library and a recognition server. There may also be a number of server libraries that support business logic, such as storing client audio and recognized text on the server. The general outline is as follows:
- On the browser side, you receive audio from the user using a microphone or an audio file.
- On the side of your server, you save the audio and transfer it to the recognition engine – a locally installed library or cloud service.
- You get the results from the recognition engine, process them as needed, and show them to the client.
Some solutions allow you to remove step 2 from this procedure. The widely used Web Speech API permits speech recognition directly on the client side by using the recognition engine of the device. Think about Dictation on macOS, Siri on iOS, Cortana on Windows 10, Android Speech, etc.
The disadvantage of this method is the partial support in browsers (this feature is still considered experimental) and the inconsistency of the results depending on the platform used.
Almost any modern language for backend-development has its own speech recognition library – PHP, Java, Python, Ruby, etc. From the point of view of Cloud providers, you have a choice of platforms from industry giants such as Google, Microsoft, and IBM, as well as open-source projects like CMUSphinx and Snowboy.
In addition to the free version, the latest options will also offer offline recognition directly on your server. However, there is a downside – you have to understand the technical details and rely only on community support.
How to Implement Speech Recognition on a Website for Non-Programmers
It is impossible to implement custom speech recognition solution completely without programming – all services require a certain amount of coding to some extent. However, large suppliers significantly simplify the integration process due to a large number of ready-made plug-ins and libraries for any languages and platforms, as well as provide high-quality technical support. Here are a few providers to choose from:
How to Implement Speech Recognition with Alan
If you want to learn how to add speech recognition to your website with the Alan platform, it will only take you a few steps. Here is what you should do to create a voice script with simple voice commands:
- Open up the Alan Studio and start a new project.
- Click “Add Script,” where you can create an empty script or choose from predefined script templates. Here, you can search for scripts that have a variety of purposes.
- Add intents into the script code area. The intent is a voice command that is defined by expected user inputs (patterns) and triggers a specific action from an application. Once you’re done, save the changes.
- To test the voice script, go to “Debug chat.” Type your intent there and see whether the response matches the one you specified earlier. Alternatively, you can click the Alan Button and say your intent out loud. Then, you will be able to hear Alan’s response in spoken language.
If you want to add the Alan Button to the HTML webpage, here is what you should do:
- In the Alan Studio, open the “Embed Code” page where you’ll find different platforms available for the Alan Button integration.
- Copy the full HTML code and save it as a new file under the name testAlanButton.html.
- Open the testAlanButton.html file. Here, you’ll see an empty page with the Alan Button in the corner. By activating the button, you will be able to submit intents and receive responses predefined by you.
- Make sure the microphone access on your browser is enabled, and you can start using the new feature.
As you can see, you don’t need thorough technical knowledge to implement voice into your platform. If you’re interested in transforming your website with speech recognition, we’re at your service. This simple but attractive feature is bound to bring accessibility and convenience to your employees as well as your customers.