Let’s have a conversation

I forgot to tell y’all… I’m going to be at Conversations2007 this week. Well not “I’m going to be” rather I’m at Conversations2007. It’s all about voice/speech technoogy and I gotta say the stuff is way more advanced than it was a few years ago. Already I was given the tour of the Mercedes Benz speech support. It’s bangin’! I get in the front passenger seat of this car (that I initially thought was the door prize) and the guy starts talking to the steering wheel. I mean he’s not speaking directly into the steering wheel like you would have to do with 1999’s speech technology. Instead he’s having a natural conversation with the Benz. He’s saying things like “switch the station”, and the Benz responds with “what station?” Before I could blurt out “Power 99 FM my favorite station!” he cuts me off with 97.3 and some pop music ensues. (I also had to remember that I was outside of the Philly broadcasting area.) Then the guy demos the on-board dial via blue-tooth feature. He opens up a call using bluetooth to his cell phone and the call plays through the stereo speakers while the hidden in dash microphone (Where is that thing anyway I’m guessing the steering wheel) relays voice to the called party. All of the phone’s contacts can dialed this way. He finally demoes the GPS system. The whole thing was impressive.

I guess I’m used to the “If you want to pay your bill online press or say ‘one’. If you want to speak to a customer service rep press or say ‘zero’.” technology that still shows up in many customer service systems. What’s the deal with these old systems anyway? Why would I say “one” when I can press 1 much quicker? Why do companies still think this is a cool way to automate calls? I like the system my electric company has. It makes you feel like you’re talking to a real human. In fact if I didn’t know better I’d say they actually sub a human in some areas using the ol’ Mechanical Turk approach. It responds with things like, “ok, I’m not sure I quiet understood you. Did you say, ‘send the doggone repair truck to my house’?” That just feels more natural than, “your response could not be interpreted. Please press star to repeat and speak your text while holding you phone handset at the proper ninety degree angle.” I’m rambling… I’ll rap more with y’all. I’m outy 5000…
(Or is it I’m Audi 2000? Oh no I think it’s something like I’m a 97 SAAB… no wait SAABs weren’t the thing back in 97… what was that saying? I’m out like lightning? No, no, no! I’m gone Ghost like Swaze? Peace like Casper? Grrr!!! I’m losing my, my ability to swing the lingo. Yall don’t hear me tho’)

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