SpeechTech Magazine: The 2013 Speech Luminaries

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The Hyper Drivers
Martin Geddes, CEO, Martin Geddes Consulting
E. Kelly Fitzsimmons, Cofounder, HarQen

In November, the Hypervoice Consortium officially launched with the mission to advance hypervoice, an emerging model for organizing and navigating conversational data by transforming voice components into native Web objects and breaking them down into smaller bits of audio that can be searched, shared, and secured independently.

The consortium includes thought leaders in Web, voice, and telephone application and platform design, but the real credit goes to founders Martin Geddes and E. Kelly Fitzsimmons.

Geddes is president and CEO of Martin Geddes Consulting. Fitzsimmons cofounded Web telephony company HarQen in 2007 and still serves on its board of directors.

The term hypervoice, which Geddes and Fitzsimmons coined, involves not only Web-based applications of voice, but also encompasses emerging voice applications and capabilities.

The first of these apps debuted in October at Oracle's OpenWorld conference, where HarQen unveiled an app that added hypervoice conversations as a service to Oracle Social Network.

Hypervoice conversations can be initiated from any digital channel, such as Facebook or Twitter, a CRM system, or an instant messenger platform. Natural behaviors—taking notes, assigning tasks, or sharing slides—create metadata for the recorded audio. New behaviors, such as tagging the conversation with important information, enable new work flows.

Deborah Dahl, chair of the Multimodal Interaction Working Group at the Worldwide Web Consortium and principal at Conversational Technologies, calls hypervoice "a pretty cool concept," but wonders if it will catch on in its current form. "Right now it seems to involve some extra manual steps on the part of users to capture the semantics of the audio in real time," she says. "That could change if technologies like speech-to-text, keyword spotting, voice biometrics, and natural language [understanding] start to be incorporated into hypervoice applications."

Fitzsimmons isn't short on enthusiasm. "Hypervoice conversations hold the promise of enabling a whole new paradigm for human communications," she says. "Hypervoice gets more done faster, better, smarter, and even cheaper."