Parul Pandey – VOICE (Amazon Alexa)

Post written by Parul Pandey:

VOICE has been publicized as one of the largest voice tech conference focusing on technologies using natural language processing. It was organized as a three-day conference from July 24th through July 26th and was held in the Wellness and Events Center on the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) campus in Newark, NJ. It was a huge conference hosted by Modev and attended by almost 2777 people, with over 200+ speakers, over 175 sessions on technologies focusing on natural language processing (NLP).

The conference was a great mix of talks and panel discussion. The first day started with an interesting talk by Brooke Hawkins from Nuance on how conversation technologies are changing the healthcare industry. The talk was specially focused on the design of chatbots such as Woebot that have the potential to replace traditional CBT therapies or primary care doctor.  The day also had an interesting panel discussion by leaders of various organization on the future of conversational agents such as chatbots using deep learning and NLP.

The second day started with even more interesting sessions. One of the interesting conversation titled, ‘I CAN DO THAT, DAVE: Voice Assistants Have Arrived’, focused on the latest development in design of smart speakers including seamless communication between smart speakers, mobile phones, cars, and offices along with new features such as personalization, context, and memory.  Another interesting panel discussion focused on “Kids & G-Rated Voice Assistants”, by various technology leaders with the focus on best practices for use, development, and regulation of voice assistants for kids. Issues addressed also included the challenges of recognizing children’s voices and keeping responses rated G. To present a developer point of view on conversation design an interesting session was focused on developing actions for Google Assistant.  Another interesting panel discussion focused on how top brands are embracing voice, and what’s expected and required in innovative, voice-first monetization strategies for personal, consumer-oriented, and B2B skills. 

The final day started with two keynote speeches along with some great sessions. One of the interesting session by U.S. Geological Survey focused on how Alexa can help collect more data from Amazon Alexa platform combined with the data from USGS earthquake sensor network not only give the Earth a voice, but a voice to interact with.

VOICE Summit was primarily sponsored by Amazon Alexa, Yext, Audible, Applause and Orbita. Community Partners included New Jersey Tech Council, New Jersey Innovation Institute, Code for Newark, Women in Machine Learning and Data Science, Women Who Code, GDI, System of Systems, VoiceTechTO, Catalaize, BotsandAI, Women in Tech NJ/NY, #ODSC, NYC Blockchain AI, fuse machines, NYC Media Lab and CO Network.  

Among the other things, the conference had access to locations such as airports and hotels via trains and local shuttles. The conference app was very well organized with the ability to connect with other members attending the event. The conference also had an expo organized where many companies could showcase their upcoming technologies.

The people interested in conversation technologies using NLP can look forward to other conferences such as The Voice of Healthcare Summit to be held on  August 7, at Harvard Medical School and The Alexa Conference, presented by VoiceFirst.FM and sponsored by Amazon, which is the worldwide gathering of Alexa developers and enthusiasts. This event will takes place January 15-17, in Chattanooga, Tennessee.