speech technology

What is speech technology?

Speech technology is a type of computing technology that enables an electronic device to recognize, analyze and understand spoken word or audio. This is typically done by inputting digital sound signals and matching its pattern against a library of stored patterns.

How does speech technology work?

Speech technology relies on the concepts of signal processing and machine learning. Signal processing is used to extract relevant information from speech, such as speaker characteristics, background noise and frequency. Machine learning is then applied to these listening devices to recognize and analyze the speech signals to perform the desired output, such as returning an automatic response.

Since speech is a primary form of communication, the growth of speech technology is an important step towards harnessing unstructured voice data. Subfields of speech technology include:

Speech technology is often spoken interchangeably with voice technology, but they serve different functions. Speech technology focuses on what is said, while voice technology zeroes in on who said it.

What are use cases for speech technology?

With the growing presence of artificial intelligence tools in the enterprises, speech technology has many uses in all sectors, including law, healthcare, security, finance, enterprise and personal use. A few specific examples include:

  • Speech technology and speaker verification platforms can identify and validate a person's voice in law enforcement procedures and processes.
  • Companies are able to apply speech technology such as speech to text and IVR functionalities to streamline customer service and support.
  • Healthcare providers can use speech technology devices to aid patients that are visually impaired or hard of hearing.
  • Personal use voice assistants such as Siri, Google Home and Amazon Alexa are devices that offer individualized speech technology experiences.
  • Various careers, including speech technologists, speech engineers and speech pathologists, rely heavily on speech technology to collect more technical audio components like sample rate, signal to noise ratio and modulation.

Speech technology enjoyed a large uptick in use in 2020 with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. With workforces forced to transition to remote and hybrid models, speech technology gained traction to record virtual meetings, enable touch-free dictation and even translate languages. Speech technology will continue to advance in the coming years to serve more use in the revamped hybrid enterprise work model.

This was last updated in September 2021

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