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Voice on Voice #131 
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Siri Searches for Scale

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Siri supporters have long lamented the absence of a robust Siri-driven smart home ecosystem (not to mention the similar lack of a 3rd-party voice app marketplace). Although Siri was the first major voice assistant to debut, its ubiquity is rooted in its presence on smartphones rather than its availability in other devices. However, Apple has taken note and is actively trying to position itself as a rival in the smart home with its introduction of the original HomePod speaker and newer HomePod mini. Now rumors are hinting at Apple’s development of a hybrid TV set-top box and speaker and smart display. This week, the company announced that later this year, third-party devices will be able to integrate Siri. With these smart home milestones, it’s clear that Apple is trying to expand its position in the voice assistant market.

Siri Multiplies

Apple announced at the WWDC keynote that its Siri voice assistant is coming to third-party devices. In contrast with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant — which are both integrated into devices not owned by the companies — Siri was only available on Apple’s smart products. Later this year, developers can use Apple HomeKit to build Siri-enabled home devices. Ecobee’s thermostat is the first to implement the new capability. Apple has already invested in efforts to expand Siri’s reach with its involvement in Matter, an initiative to house several voice assistants in a device. But with Siri’s third-party integrations, the company is envisioning Siri-led smart homes that can rival the networks of Alexa and Google Assistant.
More on The Verge

Transcription Funding Pours In

Transcription company Verbit recently raised $157 million for its Series D, bringing its total funding to $250 million. Verbit leverages AI to transcribe text, and then it uses a team of professional human transcribers to fact check results for the greatest accuracy. The transcription services are popular with those who work in higher education and legal. This hefty funding round mirrors the large sums that other conversational startups — like Cognigy, Hyro, and ASAPP, to name a few — have raised recently. With this flurry of fundraising activity, investors see the vast potential that conversational AI companies have, especially in the transcription and call center spaces.
More on Voicebot.ai

Voicing Concerns 

The European Union released a report that detailed the competition concerns that emerge with the popularity of voice assistants from companies like Amazon, Apple, and Google. Some of the EU’s findings include: 1) lack of interoperability allows only one assistant per device, 2) companies have extensive access to user data from the use of their assistants, and 3) companies that provide voice assistants can shield users from discovering the services of competitors. Most recently, companies like Apple are trying to combat this concern by making their voice services available on third-party devices or along with other assistants. However, this report shows that more action needs to be taken to address competition.
More on TechCrunch

By the Numbers

68%

of businesses have a voice strategy in 2021. (data via Speechmatics)

$2.1 million

raised by Compose.ai, a startup that uses GPT-3 to analyze your writing style and provide auto-complete text suggestions. (data via TechCrunch)

Emerging Tech Stories 

  • FB Watch. Next summer, Facebook is planning to debut its smartwatch with two cameras. The device can be detached from the wristband.
  • Apple Vision. Apple is planning to introduce its first AR headset in 2022.

  • TikTok Data. TikTok changed its privacy policy to allow the app to collect biometric information including “faceprints” and “voiceprints.”

Q&A With Mark Tucker, RAIN’s Senior Technical Director
We recently sat down to chat with RAIN’s Senior Technical Director Mark Tucker about how he got into voice technology, and his views on what makes voice tech uniquely exciting for both developers and users. As an innovator in the voice space, Mark was recently designated as one of the top voice technologists by Voicebot.ai!
Read More Here
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