August 23, 2012
IVR Innovations Blending Human Emotion for Enhanced Experience
By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor
Outgrowing current technology is an accepted issue; we expect rapid evolution, continuous improvements and new innovations. As the world becomes populated with more and more consumers, the technology used to serve them is quickly outgrown. Think of the call center and the old manned switchboards that were cutting-edge at the time, but now appear to be relics from another world.
Interactive Voice Response (IVR) solutions popped up as an answer to the increased pressure on call centers to service legions of customers, according to this Plum Voice blog. While IVR might have had some issues when it was in its infancy, society has grown to not only accept it, but to rely on it.
Studies now show that the newest generation of consumers actually prefers to do a large portion of their communication with the companies they use through the IVR systems, which speaks to the advancements that have been made in the technology.
The ingenuity that went into IVR software development has been used to create a consumer service robot that can perform problem solving tasks for consumers. Robots have revolutionized the assembly line, saving companies billions of dollars in production costs while saving consumers billions on what they pay in retail.
But the robots being developed by a couple of South Korean researchers are actually servicing humans on a more personal level. And to do that, they need to bring electronic interaction to another level, which includes involving emotion, according to this report.
The advancement in IVR technology is nothing short of scary to the common Luddite, especially if one considers the ability of engineers to include emotion-recognition in the most advanced IVR software being used to establish a more human-like interaction with the robots. The common IVR system is set up to detect the spoken word and make sense of it.
The researchers have figured out a way take those speech recognition techniques and use them to detect emotion in the language. By picking up on the various patterns that make up a certain emotion in the voice, such as pitch and volume, the software can assign an emotion to it and allow the robots to react accordingly.
The task has not been an easy one. While IVR systems can be “taught” words with little difficulty, researchers are not having the same level of success with zeroing-in on emotions in the spoken word. One possible solution to the puzzle, according to the researchers, is to use the moods that are expressed in music because there seems to be a commonality in how humans perceive a song, regardless of age, sex or nationality.
While these innovations in the IVR space are fascinating they truly only scratch the surface of where this technology is going and the possibilities for the long term. It will continue to be an exciting industry to watch.
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Edited by Allison Boccamazzo
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