The fourth edition of the Digital Tech Conference includes contributions from the leaders of today’s tech scene, examining topics that include the future of Digital Assistance. A major trend at the moment, these voice assistants equipped with AI are already winning users over. Experts from Amazon, Google, Meetic, Mozilla, and the challengers Snips and Adventiel are coming to Rennes to present an analysis of the current situation and the future of these bots, which can be used at the office, in the living room or even on farms.
53% of owners of voice-activated smart speakers find it natural to speak to Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri or Google Home; some even feel like they’re speaking to a friend, according to a Google study conducted in the US! More instinctive than text message queries, these smart bots immediately found an audience. 29% of people interviewed by the CNIL used a smart voice assistant in 2018. And according to the Comscore study, by 2020, half of searches will be voice requests.
Amazon and Google with their voice assistants in Rennes
With the Echo device family, used by tens of millions of people worldwide, Amazon continues to innovate and offer new solutions for voice-activated products and services. Nicolas Maynard, Amazon France’s Alexa Manager, will talk to us about the development of this market, as well as about machine learning, a key aspect of the technology. He will also discuss the major issues that the Alexa France team had to deal with concerning localisation, the deployment of a new, highly complex language such as French and introducing Alexa and Echo to French customers.
Blending sociology and technology to reveal the levers of digital development in society, Jean-Philippe Bécane, Google France’s Marketing Manager, will provide his account of voice assistant solutions, a key aspect of the internet of the future for Google, the world’s leading search engine! At the Digital Tech Conference, Jean-Philippe Bécane will also give us a glimpse of the hidden workings of how Google ensures that our various devices get better and better at understanding us and speaking to us. And at communicating between themselves, like the Home Hub, Google’s youngest, which responds to voice commands from Google Assistant to control a smart home, view an agenda, perform internet searches, etc.
GAFA challengers in Rennes
The developer of the Firefox web browser, the Mozilla international foundation that fights for free software will also be at the Digital Tech Conference to present its Common Voice project. A voice search specialist at Mozilla, Alexandre Lissy will present the progress of this global project whose aim is to help machines learn to speak like humans by developing a free database. In keeping with the Mozilla Foundation philosophy, which promotes an open source vision of the evolution of technology, Common Voice is based on voice clips provided by internet users from all over the world… and the project data is free to access so that anyone may create innovative voice applications.
As for the startup Snips!, it develops a “privacy by design” voice assistant to ensure that user data, which normally powers AI machine learning, cannot move around and be used. A major challenge,
which forces the startup to be smart in order to find resources and generate data when none is available, even though Snips!’s goal is to create a specialized, non-universal assistant, which enables it to specialize and limit the scope of requests. Its challenge? “We need the Big Four to prime the pump and educate markets, but eventually, voice control will become more democratic and the use cases will multiply! Users will reject the oligopoly, since these players also tend to be too cloud-focused by default and spy on us. Consumers will likely favour alternative solutions such as ours,” says Yann Lechelle, the COO of Snips!, who will speak at Digital Tech 2018.
Meetic’s 1st dating bot and a bot to control farms
The first “dating chatbot”, with over 400,000 active monthly users in Europe, Lara Voice will be presented in Rennes by Xavier de Baillenx, Innovation Lead at Meetic Group. Its role is to help users find their soulmates, seeking out profiles that might interest you based on geolocation, age or areas of interest and the relevance of their messages. Through the use of artificial intelligence, Lara can understand users’ intentions, launch a complete conversational scenario and offer new advice with each new conversation. She can thus suggest a topic of conversation or an ideal spot for a first meeting. A few weeks ago, she was given a voice, that of Google Assistant, and learns from conversations with users to progress over time. “Making Lara smarter is only possible thanks to our users, who are our best allies. They help Lara grow, and we focus on their experience to create the most effective conversational scenarios,” Xavier de Baillenx explains.
Management of hay stock, fertilizer treatments or hangar temperature, Voixeo, the voice assistant that now murmurs in farmers’ ears, will also be present at Digital Tech 2018. Developed by the Rennes company Adventiel, which specializes in custom digital solutions for companies in the farming sector, it will be presented from the angle of its usages. “The simplification of mobility uses and facilitating the access to digital services for farmers and technicians” is one of the goals, says Xavier L’Hostis, innovation manager at Adventiel, who steered the deployment Hubixeo, a platform of professional virtual assistants for farmers, and Voixeo, the solution that enables “hands-free” voice access to virtual assistants in various working scenarios (office, mobility, building). These two projects received awards in both 2017 and 2018 in the innovation competition at SPACE (the International Animal Production Exhibition).