Amazon, Tech Companies Unveil Voice Interoperability Initiative

To ensure that voice-enabled products offer customers flexibility and choice through multiple, interoperable voice services, Amazon and top technology firms announced the Voice Interoperability Initiative. Over 30 companies are supporting the effort, with the inclusion of global brands such as Amazon, Salesforce, Sonos, Spotify, Bose and Baidu, among others, according to a Sept. 24 press release.

“Multiple simultaneous wake words provide the best option for customers,” Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said in the announcement. “Utterance by utterance, customers can choose which voice service will best support a particular interaction. It’s exciting to see these companies come together in pursuit of that vision.”

According to the announcement, the initiative is constructed around the shared belief that services for voice should seamlessly work alongside one another on an individual device, and voice-enabled devices should be made to support simultaneous wake words. Firms that are a part of the Voice Interoperability Initiative will work together to make sure that customers have the freedom to interact with multiple voice offerings on one device.

The best way to promote customer choice on devices that support multiple voice services is via multiple simultaneous wake words, the release said. In that case, customers can access each service by saying the associated wake word. “Customers get to enjoy the unique skill and capabilities of each service, from Alexa and Cortana to Djingo, Einstein, and any number of emerging voice services,” the announcement said.

“We value freedom of choice, empowering listeners to choose what they want to listen to and how they want to control it,” Sonos CEO Patrick Spence said in the announcement. “We were the first company to have two voice assistants working concurrently on the same system, a major milestone for the industry. We are committed to a day where we’ll have multiple voice assistants operating simultaneously on the same device, and are working to make that happen as soon as possible.”

And Salesforce Chairman and Co-CEO Marc Benioff noted, “We’re in the midst of an incredible technological shift, in which voice and AI [artificial intelligence] are completely transforming the customer experience.” Benioff continued, “We look forward to working with Amazon and other industry leaders to make Einstein Voice, the world’s leading CRM assistant, accessible on any device.”

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