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16th September 2019
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The Voice Revolution: A Short History

by Sound Branch in News 0 comments

 

2019 has been a year of ambitious development and growth for voice technology.

Google, Amazon and Microsoft have all invested heavily, making improvements to their software as well as introducing new capabilities and features. Ventures Anywhere have mirrored this investment into the sector, driven by a belief in its potential and a commitment to be industry leaders. Our pioneering developments in voice tech have included: 

Sound Branch – a unique ‘voice notes’ social-platform, which allows users to share short and easy-to-record audio files, which can then be converted into professional podcasts or used for a plethora of business purposes – such as feedback, recruitment and analysis.

Mums Anywhere – the first ‘reality radio’ – providing a platform for its users to share and access advice/tips from other parents. After positive promotion from mummy influencers such as Ferne McCann, Marnie Simpson, Cara De La Houd, Cally-Jane and the Modern Midwife, MumsAnywhere ranked 15 on the social charts in January 2018 and to date has had 10,000 downloads.

In the next 12 months, it is certain that voice-activated services will become a much bigger part of our everyday lives – at work as well as home. In fact, by the end of this year, the voice market is predicted to be “a $601 million industry” according to a report from Technavio. However, this be a conservative estimate as, by 2021, it’s believed there will be more voice assistants on the planet than there are people (according to research firm Ovum). This growth represents a huge shift in the nature of human interaction with digital technology.

As ASR (automatic speech recognition) continues to improve and AI becomes more and more cognitive, the use of voice tools will undoubtedly become increasingly mainstream. However, voice technology is by no means new, despite its recent surge in popularity with consumers.

Below is a condensed history of the key milestones in the sector. These illustrate that (as with all technological advances) growth is exponential – as developers strive forward by ‘standing on the shoulders of giants’.

Voice Technology – Key Milestones

 

 

  • 1952 – Davis, Biddulph and Balashek at Bell Laboratories build Audrey, Speech Recognizer for strings of digits
  • 1981 – The Applied Voice Input Output Society (AVIOS) is founded
  • 1982 – Husband & Wife Dr. James Baker and Dr. Janet M. Baker found Dragon Systems
  • 1987 – Jo Lernout and Pol Hauspie found Lernout & Hauspie
  • 1994 – Mike Phillips and Bill O’Farrell found SpeechWorks
  • 1994 – Nuance Communications founded as a spin-off of SRI International’s Speech Technology and Research (STAR) Laboratory
  • 1994 – Wildfire Communications launches the Wildfire Assistant
  • 1995 – The Quarterly ‘Speech Technology Magazine’ begins publication
  • 1995 Microsoft Releases its Speech API, SAPI 1.0, on Windows 95 and Windows NT 3.51
  • 1999 – Mike McCue and Angus Davis Found Tellme Networks
  • 2000 – SpeechWorks goes public
  • 2000 – Orange purchases Wildfire Communications for $142MM
  • Jan 2004 – James Siminoff and William Price found PhoneTag
  • May 2005 – Microsoft launches Microsoft Speech Server
  • 2006 – Mike Phillips and John Nguyen break off Nuance and launch Vlingo
  • Mar 2007 – Microsoft Acquires Tellme for $800MM
  • April 2007 – Nuance Communications Acquires BeVocal
  • 2008 – The Association for Voice Interaction Design (AVIXD) is founded
  • Jun 2008 – Nuance Communications sues Vlingo for alleged patent infringement
  • Dec 2008 – PhoneTag rebrands as Simulscribe
  • Dec 2009 – Nuance Communications acquires Speech to Text provider Spinvox
  • Sept 2009 – SimulScribe Signs Exclusive Partnership Agreement with Ditech Networks
  • Feb 2010 – Siri is published as a mobile app on iOS
  • April 2010 – Apple Acquires Siri
  • Nov 2010 – Nuance Communications acquires PerSay
  • June 2011 – Google Announces Voice Search
  • June 2011 – Nuance Communications files another lawsuit against Vlingo
  • Oct 2011 – Apple Launches Siri on 4S
  • Nov 2011 – Amazon Acquires Yap
  • Dec 2011 – Nuance Communications acquires Vlingo
  • Aug 2012 – Nuance Announces Neena
  • Aug 2012 – UCIC Launches its Ubi Kickstarter campaign
  • Aug 2012 – Angel.com Announces Lexee
  • Sept 2012 – Nuance Communications acquires Ditech Networks
  • Jan 2013 – Amazon Acquires Poland based Text to Speech provider Ivona
  • June 2013 – Genesys Acquires Angel.com
  • Aug 2013 – Facebook Acquires Speech Translation startup Jibbigo
  • Oct 2013 – XOWi launches its Voice Badge Kickstarter Campaign
  • April 2014 – Microsoft Announces Cortana
  • Oct 2014 – The Ubiquitous Voice Society Launched
  • Nov 2014 – Amazon Echo Available Prime members
  • January 2015 – Facebook Acquires Wit.AI
  • April 2015 – Amazon Echo launches Connected Home capabilities
  • June 2015 – The Amazon Echo is Generally Available
  • June 2015 – Alexa Skills Kit Generally Released
  • June 2015 – Amazon Launches The Alexa Fund
  • June 2015 – Alexa Voice Service (AVS) Kit Generally Released
  • Dec 2015 – SoundHound Launches Houndify Platform
  • March 2016 – Amazon Tap and Echo Dot Generally Released
  • May 2016 – Facebook Acquires VR Audio Two Big Ears
  • Sept 2016 – Amazon Announces arrival of Alexa and the Echo in UK and Germany
  • Sept 2016 – Google Acquires API.AI
  • Oct 2016 – Samsung Acquires Viv
  • Nov 2016 – Google Home Generally Released
  • Dec 2016 – Google Action Announces Google Assistant Partners
  • Feb 2017 – Amazon Announces its Alexa Partners
  • April 2017 – Google Home Supports Voice ID
  • April 2017 – Google announces the general availability of Google Assistant SDK for hardware makers
  • May 2017 –  Microsoft Announces Cortana on Harman-Kardon’s Invoke speaker
  • June 2017 – Samsung releases Bixby in the United States
  • June 2017 – Echo Show Generally Available
  • Aug 2017 – Google Home Supports Voice Calling
  • Aug 2017 – Walmart and Google Partner on Voice-based Shopping
  • Aug 2017 – Amazon closes its acquisition of Whole Foods
  • Aug 2017 – Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana Interoperability Announced
  • Aug 2017 – Sony announces its Google Assistant powered LF-S50G smart speaker
  • Sept 2017 – Amazon launches Echo Spot and Echo Plus
  • Oct 2017 – Amazon Alexa Supports Voice Calling
  • Oct 2017 – Amazon supports VoiceID
  • Oct 2017 – Amazon introduces paid subscriptions for Alexa skills
  • Oct 2017 – Ventures Anywhere launch Sound Branch
  • Nov 2017 – Amazon announces that Alexa and Amazon Echo products will be available in Canada starting December 2017
  • Feb 2018 – Apple Launches Homepod
  • May 2018 – SoundHound Closes $100 Million Funding Round
  • May 2018 – SoundHound Closes $100 Million Funding Round
  • May 2018 – Amazon opens more monetization tools for Alexa developers
  • May 2018 – Cortana & Alexa Officially Announced
  • May 2018 – Google Home overtakes Amazon Echo in smart speaker sales for first time
  • Aug 2018 – Samsung Announces the Galaxy Home smart speaker
  • Aug 2018 – Cortana and Alexa become available on each other’s platforms
  • April 2019 – Amazon Alexa launches its first HIPAA-compliant medical skills
  • June 2019 – Ventures Anywhere launch first ‘reality radio’ with MumsAnywhere