Spoken dialog systems allow people to get information, conduct business, and be entertained, simply by speaking to a computer. There are hundreds of these systems currently in use, handling millions of interactions every day. How do they work? What problems do they solve? The goal of this book is to answer these questions and others like them, including:
How can I decide if a spoken dialog system is a good fit for the needs of my organization?
What’s the difference between a voice user interface and a conventional graphical interface? What are the psychological principles underlying voice user interfaces? What do I need to know about error handling in voice applications and accommodating both novice and experienced users?
How can I make use of newer technologies like speaker authentication?
What about development tools? How can I evaluate and select the right tools?
What can I expect when deploying a spoken dialog system? How is deploying a spoken dialog system different from deploying a web application? What details do I have to be aware of for the deployment to succeed?
What can we expect these systems to do in the future? What kinds of new capabilities are about to emerge from research laboratories?
For professional speech researchers, there is a rich technical literature covering many years of primary research in speech. However, this literature is not necessarily applicable to the needs of business people, application developers, and students who are interested in learning about the practical uses of speech technology. On the other hand, while existing introductory resources cover the basic mechanics of development of application development as well as aspects of the voice user interface, they don’t go far enough in dealing with the details that have to be taken into account to make spoken dialog systems successful in practice. What’s missing is information in between the in-depth technical literature and the more introductory development resources. The goal of this book is to provide information for anyone who wants to take the next step beyond the basics of current speech applications but isn’t yet ready to dive into the technical literature. It is hoped that this book will help project managers, application developers, and students gain a fuller and more complete understanding of spoken dialog technology and the practical aspects of developing and deploying spoken dialog applications.