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Voice Interfaces for Apps: Guarding Your Privacy

By May 31, 2022June 7th, 2022No Comments
Voice AI: Data Privacy

Decades ago, talking to a computer was only possible in advanced scientific labs or in science fiction stories. Today, voice assistants have become a reality of everyday life. People talk to their phone, smart speaker, doorbell, and even microwave oven. Voice is gradually becoming one of the main ways to interact with consumer applications and devices and the use of our natural language as a mode of interaction is extremely appealing. Software like text to speech (TTS), automatic speech recognition (ASR), and Spoken Language Understanding (SLU) are used to recognize and process human language.

But while we’ve seen a lot of progress in the application of voice interfaces like google assistant or Siri in consumer applications, the business sector still lags behind, even though enterprises can be the main beneficiaries of advances in speech recognition and overall interactive voice technology. Where workers are engaged in hands-on activities and can’t interact with graphical user interfaces, voice user interfaces can make a huge difference in user engagement, productivity, and safety. However, the enterprise voice sector must overcome several challenges, one of them being privacy and security concerns. Today’s consumer voice assistants are not renowned for being very privacy friendly. There have been several documented incidents of smart speakers and voice assistants mistakenly recording conversations and replaying them elsewhere. And the massive user data that these assistants collect gets sucked into the black hole of the data-hungry tech giants that run them.

The expansion of the voice interface to your living room, car, office, pocket, and wrist has created fierce competition between tech giants. Manufacturers of smartphones, smart speakers, wearable devices and other mobile devices aim to create the ultimate voice experience that can respond to every possible query, whether it’s asking the weather, turning on the lights, responding to emails, or setting timers. Currently, the only way speech api vendors can get ahead of competitors is to improve their AI models by expanding their repertoire of actionable voice commands. This puts them in a position to have a vested interest to collect more user data and assemble larger training datasets for their AI models.

What’s also worth noting is that all major consumer voice assistants are owned by companies that  have built their business on collecting user information and creating digital profiles to serve ads, provide content and product recommendations, and keep users locked in their apps. In this regard, voice interfaces become another window for these companies to collect more data and know more about their users.

This brings us to an important takeaway: Tech giants will do anything they can to own your data because that is their key differentiating factor.

From a security and privacy standpoint, this causes several key concerns:

– These intermediaries will get to hear private conversations of enterprises’ users. For instance, if you allow a consumer voice assistant to check on your bank balance, you’re giving them access to this sensitive information.

– You don’t know what kind of data is being collected and where it is stored.

– Data is stored centrally in the servers of the voice AI provider. And as numerous security incidents have shown, centralized stores of data are attractive targets for malicious actors.

– As an enterprise, you have no ownership or control of your data and can’t use it to improve your products or gain insights about how users interact with your applications.

– In case you’re handling sensitive health, financial, or business data, you’re at the mercy of the Voice AI vendor to keep your data safe and not share it with third parties.

On the other hand, the Alan Platform is designed to ensure security and privacy for users of the enterprises and organizations. The key privacy tenet of the Alan platform is that each enterprise is the sole owner of their user conversations data. They decide where it is stored and who has access to it. And regardless of a customer’s choice for where to store their data, Alan AI secures this data, making sure it’s encrypted in transit and at rest. Not only does this model create more value for businesses in comparison to the classic voice AI platform, but it also addresses the key privacy and security pain points that organizations face when considering voice interfaces for their applications.

The Alan platform is based on solving specific problems for each enterprise, not answering every possible query in the world. Each deployment of our AI system will be tuned for one or more applications of a single enterprise.

The value of the Alan Platform does not come from creating digital profiles and selling ads and products to users, therefore there’s no incentive to collect, hoard, and monetize user data. Instead, Alan AI seeks success by creating value and helping businesses reduce costs, improve operational efficiencies and safety with employee facing deployments, and increase revenue acceleration for the customer facing deployments.

The goal is to increase ROI for businesses by deploying voice interfaces for apps being used by their customers and employees. This is why Alan AI believes every company should have full control and ownership of their data and AI models to provide the required privacy for their users. An added benefit is that the AI of each customer will improve as it continues to interact with the users of its application, and the business will have a chance to glean actionable insights from its data and develop new features and products.

Having access to the right quality and amount of data can give an enterprise the edge in providing a higher quality voice interface. Therefore, every enterprise should put data ownership and security at the center of its product innovation strategy. Will you prefer to use the technology of a company that works behind a black box, taking control and ownership of your data and not providing clear safeguards, or do you prefer to be in control of your data and work in a secure environment where you can continuously innovate and improve the voice interface of your products? If you’re in the latter camp,  the Alan Platform is for you. At Alan, we believe the future is a human voice interface to app

Reach out to sales@alan.app to set up a free private demo of the platform or answer any questions that you may have about the technology.

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