Emotionally Intelligent Voice Technology Gives Advice
Steve Adubato goes One-on-One with Sina Kahen, Co-Founder and Chief Consultant of VAICE, from the Amazon Alexa VOICE Summit at NJIT, to discuss how voice technology can be made more emotionally intelligent so it can serve as a personal advisor on a variety of everyday issues.
"Sina Kahen, who is, in fact, the Co-Founder and Chief Consultant at a place called VAICE? VAICE. Which stands for? Voice and AI. Trying to put the AI in voice. Look at you, you just say AI without even saying... [laughter] ...artificial intelligence. Break it down, by the way. We see that voice currently is... it's very robotic. It doesn't have much emotion, it doesn't have much personability. So we're trying to add the artificial intelligence to give it a little bit more empathy than we're currently seeing on the market. Sina, do us a favor. Break down the term "artificial intelligence" in layperson's language. Artificial intelligence is essentially a computerized brain. So if you think of a human brain, all the certain neurons, the way that they work, the way that they get you to either think logically or think emotionally, trying to mimic that through a computer. So that we're able to have the same interactions that we're having in person, but with a computer. There's many, many facets of it, machine learning, et cetera, et cetera, but it's essentially trying to take the best bits of the brain and mimic that within 100%. How did you get into this? I started in biotechnology actually. I still work... Biotechnology? ...within biotechnology. So this is all completely new to me, relative to how long I've been in biotech. So I did biomedical sciences. Looking at the product development process in biotech, we started to think, "What would be useful in an operating room to make the surgeon's and the patient's life a little bit easier?" So we started looking at voice. The sterile setting of an operating room is ideal for voice technology. Is it? Because you can't touch. So if you're a surgeon, you're sterile. There's only certain things you can touch. So if you want to try and grab some notes from a, you know, your nurse, you're able to actually voice activate that interaction. Then voice became commercialized through Amazon Alexa and Google Home. I started my MBA, and we realized, "Why don't we get a group of MBA students together, meet up with brands and..." Is this over in England? In India and London. The MBA team is varied, from Canada, to California, to Iran, to Israel, and we're trying to help brands develop their voice strategy, and we've been doing it for about seven months now, and it's been good. It's been very good. Why did you come here? To the Voice Summit? America seems to be a step ahead of technology. Whenever there's a new technology. Is that right? Indeed. We are? Indeed. Always..."