Voice recognition achieved by VUI (Voice User Interface) is the ability for a programmed machine to respond to voice command. With the efficiency and convenience associated to the technology, it is fast becoming a way to help bridge the gap in professional task management and daily activities. Voice recognition is becoming more sophisticated and reliable, and as such, we can expect the technology to be implemented more, across many different industries. At present, consumer trends are demonstrating rapid adoption of this new capability, with many companies striving to create optimal VUI experiences. Inside Telecom has comprised a few key advantages and drawbacks of this evolving technology.
Advantages of Voice and Speech Recognition technology
Talking is faster than typing!
Voice commands are a far more efficient tool than typing a message. Advancements are being made in technology to make life easier and voice recognition is being built-in to more devices to help boost convenience and efficiency. Voice recognition software has improved and according to a study at the University of Stanford, it has become significantly faster and more accurate at producing text (through speech-based dictation on a mobile device) than we are at typing on its keyboard.
By integrating technology, such as those offered by voice solutions, businesses can streamline documentation processes, and alleviate the burden of typing and other admin tasks, enabling professionals to focus on more challenging and rewarding aspects of the job.
VUI has come a long way
VUI is constantly evolving and has come leaps and bounds from older software once produced for companies’ customer service centers. We all remember encountering a rather frustrating automated service that did not have the advanced capability of understanding or responding to our voice activation (the first time around). Today, companies have implemented more developed voice recognition software that makes interaction with a robot feel more like a conversation with a human. And deep-machine learning means VUI software is able to understand more complex and diverse word responses. This shows that researchers are going that extra mile to improve VUI devices for a way that will fit into society and our broadening scope of needs.
Voice recognition boosts productivity levels
Voice recognition and speech activation is being developed for a whole myriad of reasons. The most essential role it may have is in the workplace where it can provide support and assistance to task-management duties. Amazon’s Alexa can be used for managing and setting up conference calls as well as scheduling meetings and setting up reminders – this enables a company to streamline the process for everyone – which boosts productivity and efficiency levels.
This technology is making it possible to access big data instantly, allowing professionals to retrieve important information upon a voice command. As the technology develops, it will become commonplace to ask a question or request data for any specific case or project – taking less time than it would for us to manually search for information.
It can also streamline communication between people who speak different languages. The software has the capability of translating what is said in a foreign language into the native language for the recipient of the information to understand – which essentially helps one move beyond potential language barriers in daily business practices.
Drawbacks of voice and speech recognition
Privacy of voice recorded data
More devices are using VUI technology, which may present more challenges related to data privacy. If a device has this capability, the additional data can get tracked by the manufacturer. There have been concerns in the past that manufacturers would be capable of listening in on private conversations. This area of concern and questioning incentivized action from companies to work on offering better privacy controls for users.
Error and misinterpretation of words
Not all words are accurately interpreted with voice recognition. It is far easier for a human to decode words and turn it into meaning, than it is for voice recognition software to do so. The software’s limitation of understanding the contextual relation of words, may cause disruption to any given task assigned to the software along the way. It may encounter problems with slang words, acronyms or technical words/jargon.
Microsoft-HPE Spaceborne computer project among cargo delivered to ISS spacecraft
It’s been a busy week for NASA, with early Monday morning seeing the docking of the Northrop Grumman Cygnus N-G15 resupply mission spacecraft to the ISS, which includes thousands of pounds of food and science experiments, including a joint HPE/Microsoft collaboration to bring advanced computing power and AI to the station with the Spaceborne Computer-2.
Thursday was the historic landing of NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars which made a touchdown after a 203-day journey.
The Saturday afternoon weekend launch of the resupply mission from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility at Wallops Island, Virginia, deployed solar arrays several hours into its journey to help power the Cygnus en-route to the ISS, with the craft arriving Monday at approximately 4:38 a.m. (EST.)
On Monday early morning, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi used the space station’s robotic arm to capture Cygnus upon its arrival, while NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins monitored telemetry during the rendezvous, capture and installation of the Unity module’s Earth-facing port, according to press statement from NASA.
This is Northrop Grumman’s 15th cargo flight to the space station and is the fourth under its Commercial Resupply Services 2 contract with NASA. Cygnus launched on an Antares 230+ rocket from the Virginia Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport.
The lead NASA flight director for the mission, Adi Boulos, said in a statement, “I am humbled to be the International Space Station Flight Director for the Northrup Grumman CRS-15 mission. This spacecraft has the honor of being named the S.S. Katherine Johnson. As a Black woman, Katherine Johnson shattered race and gender barriers to live out her dreams and become a pivotal part of this country’s young space program.”
Johnson was a pioneering member of the U.S. space program, both as an early member, and as one of the first African American women to join what was to become NASA.
“Fifty-nine years ago, today, astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth after personally asking for Katherine Johnson to verify his Mercury missions’ orbital trajectory calculations,” Boulos added. “Katherine Johnson was an asset to our space program, and I am honored to work for a mission that expands her legacy even further.”
The resupply flight will support dozens of new and existing investigations. A partial list of the scientific investigations Cygnus is delivering to the space station includes:
High-performance computing aboard the space station
Improved high-performance computing will be required for space missions as humans prepare for additional exploration throughout the solar system. Currently, computing capabilities in space are reduced compared to capabilities on the ground because they prioritize reliability over performance, creating challenges when transmitting data to and from space.
Launched in 2017, the Spaceborne computer study ran a high-performance commercial off-the-shelf computer system in space, successfully performing more than 1 trillion calculations (or one teraflop) per second for 207 days without requiring reset.
The NG-15 mission includes Spaceborne Computer-2 which will explore how commercial off-the-shelf computer systems can advance space exploration by reliably processing data significantly faster in space, speeding scientists’ time to data access and analysis from months to minutes.
After installation, researchers will test Microsoft’s Azure cloud system not only for intensive processing to save the ISS crew time in function, but to also test artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities as part of the system. The Spaceborne Computer is based on HPE’s Edgeline Converged Edge system.
Microsoft and SpaceX are also working together on the Azure Space project, with Microsoft planning on accessing the growing Starlink satellite constellation for joint testing at the ground based Azure Modular Datacenter.
I dream of space
The ESA (European Space Agency) Dreams experiment will take a closer look at astronaut sleep. The investigation serves as a technology demonstration of the Dry-EEG Headband in microgravity, while also monitoring astronaut sleep quality during a long-duration flight mission.
Raw data will be available to scientists for their analysis, while the crew also can input direct feedback on their sleep with a tablet application. “Sleep is central to human health, so a better understanding of sleep in provides a more comprehensive understanding of human health in microgravity,” NASA’s statement said.
Prepping for the Moon
The International Space Station serves as a testing ground for technologies planned for use on future missions to the Moon. The A-HoSS investigation puts tools for the crewed Artemis II mission to the test.
Built as the primary radiation detection system for the Orion spacecraft, the Hybrid Electronic Radiation Assessor (HERA) was modified for operation on the space station. By verifying that HERA can operate without error for 30 days, it validates the system for crewed Artemis mission operations.
“These are just a subset of the hundreds of investigations currently being conducted aboard the orbiting laboratory in the areas of biology and biotechnology, physical sciences, and Earth and space science. Advances in these areas will help keep astronauts healthy during long-duration space travel and demonstrate technologies for future human and robotic exploration missions as part of NASA’s Moon and Mars exploration approach, including lunar missions through NASA’s Artemis program,” NASA’s statement said.
The Cygnus spacecraft will remain at the space station until May before it disposes of several thousand pounds of trash through its destructive re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere.
Social media active SMEs project revenue growth for 2021
A recent survey reported that more than half (56 percent) of small businesses in the U.S. engaging on social media on at least a weekly basis are projecting revenue growth in 2021, despite continuing COVID-related business limitations, according to B2B services group Visual Objects.
“If small businesses want to genuinely connect with consumers in their daily lives, it only makes sense to turn to social media,” said Sydney Wess, study author. “Almost 4 billion people use social media and users have doubled since 2015.”
Wess added that “Some social media active SMEs can even go viral on social platforms with unique, compelling content,” while highlighting that “these possibilities level the playing field for small businesses hoping to compete against larger, more established brands.”
Citing social media expert company Socialpilot.com, the study noted that during the ongoing pandemic lockdowns, the importance of offering digital marketing and buying experience is key to continuing revenue growth.
Visual Objects data found 74 percent of social media active SMEs who post at least weekly, maintaining consistency with their posts. This consistency is key, with the study warning of declining audience engagement for posting too often or too little.
Almost all small businesses (78 percent) market their company on Facebook, making it the most popular social media platform among small businesses. “Companies hoping to reach a wide variety of consumers rely on Facebook because it continues to have the highest volume of active users,” according to Statista.com.
TikTok, on the other hand, is rarely used by small businesses (14 percent) for marketing purposes despite its rapidly growing user base.
Robin Barendsen, a marketing specialist for debt factoring company Factris BV, believes TikTok still allows companies to cast a wide net. “TikTok can be a gold mine for the right business,” Barendsen said. “It’s incredibly easy to get a huge reach because it’s so popular.”
However, Barendsen warns that TikTok’s younger user base may yield fewer conversions than its more established counterparts.
YouTube gains popularity with small businesses in 2021
The survey found that about half of small businesses (48 percent) plan to focus more on YouTube this year than they have in the past.
The video-sharing platform is experiencing rapid growth with Generation X and Baby Boomer users. Members of these generations often have more disposable income and are less active on social media than younger people, making opportunities to reach them attractive.
John Stevenson, a marketing specialist at My GRE Exam Preparation agrees that people across all demographics use YouTube, making it a reliable platform for investment.
“YouTube is the new television,” Stevenson said, “there’s a large stream of revenue with the platform, which makes it viable and sustainable should the pandemic hit back again.”
Visual Objects surveyed 500 small business owners and managers in the U.S. to gain insights into how companies are managing social media marketing strategies in 2021.
Delivering food via Etisalat’s Smiles app
Etisalat recently launched its own food delivery platform through its Smiles app, adding to the many market options for getting takeaway.
More than 2,500 restaurants are already delivering through the app, on which users can also get discounts on dishes that are exclusive to the service.
A lifestyle engagement program, Smiles app gives Etisalat customers access to savings across entertainment, shopping, dining, travel and wellness sector services, and most recently, now food delivery.
Dining most popular category
“Smiles app is well positioned to expand its presence in the food delivery market and create additional value to its customers and partners,” Khaled Elkhouly, chief consumer officer at Etisalat, said. “Today dining is the most popular category on the Smiles platform, with our customers enjoying special offers with Smiles while dining out.”
“We listened to the voice of our customers and have now extended the convenience of food ordering via Smiles from the comfort of their own homes,” he noted.
For the telecoms company it is also a savvy market move, as Smiles has more than 2.3 million registered members and is open to all citizens, residents, and visitors to the UAE.
According to statistics released by the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority, the number of telecommunications subscribers in UAE mobile, fixed-line and data services amounted to around 22.111 million in by end of May 2020, while the number of mobile subscribers of Etisalat in the United Arab Emirates in 2019 amounted to 10.8 million subscribers, up from 9.7 million subscribers in 2015.
Some of Smiles app benefits include offering everyday savings to its members through earn and redemption of Smiles points for Etisalat, partner products and services as well as ‘Unlimited Buy 1 Get 1 Free’ and other discount offers at over 3,000 outlets, on entertainment, shopping, dining, travel, services and wellness experiences.
This kickback factor not only increases the various ways of engagement with the Smiles app., but it also gives a tangible reward for using the service by earning and redeeming Smiles points for a service that is frequently use on a recurring basis.
There has been a race to reduce prices across aggregators, with the Careem taxi service recently unveiling a subscription-based plan rather than a traditional commission-focused model.
In parallel the UAE is witnessing an increase in food delivery platforms driven by the pandemic, with Noon Food the latest to launch.
E-commerce giant Noon is launching a food delivery service through its platform, in an effort to support local food and beverage businesses during the coronavirus pandemic, the company’s founder Mohamed Alabbar said.
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