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Nuance Launches Siri Rival "Nina" 87

Posted by samzenpus
from the battle-of-the-virtual-assistants dept.
redletterdave writes "Siri can send texts and emails, set alarms and reminders, surf the Web, ask questions, place calls, play music, and get directions. But would you trust Siri, or any of her similar rivals out there for Android, to pay your bank bill? Or report a lost card? Or set up an auto-payments for your bills? Even if you wanted to do these things, how does Siri even know you are who you say you are? Nuance has clearly thought about what's missing from the voice recognition department, and unveiled its own solution on Monday, called 'Nina.' The Nuance Interactive Natural Assistant, or NINA, is a cloud-based AI that can be enabled in most business and enterprise applications thanks to a set of APIs and an open SDK for iOS and Android. Nuance calls Nina 'a watershed of firsts for virtual assistants,' mainly because she is the 'first [VA] to understand what is said and who said it' using voice-ID authentication software. Unlike Siri, Nina can help users manage their bank accounts, book flights and hotels, oversee and manage their investments, and more."
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Nuance Launches Siri Rival "Nina"

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    ... when you have a cold, you cannot access your account to book a new return flight back home. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience.

  • One more place for devious minds to find holes in. should be interesting.

    • The cloud is no more and no less inherently secure than Apple's service. As you have no clue where Apple's is hosted, the cloud-resident part of the service is a non-issue to me. What's more important is that the underlying security architecture is known, respected, and is constantly changed to prevent new attacks.

      I'm more interested in its contextual accuracy. Of course the idea of a hijack is moderately amusing, and I'm sure the NSA has a back door, discovering my latest purchase by voice from Amazon. Wha

      • by dzfoo (772245)

        Perhaps not "the cloud" in general, but a service that has privileged access to bank accounts and other sensitive information is inherently less secure than one that is primarily concerned with finding restaurants and traffic routes, for it is a much more attractive target.

        • Conventional wisdom might say that. So which IP is it? Do you infect the NOC, then sniff for delicious traffic, then bear down on it to crack it open? Who knows?

          Every single system on IPv4/6 is a target. You open up a restaurant rating system, and you get the sponsor list. A bank seems juicy, but there are interesting controls placed on account movements. A bank is likely to have an IDS.

          It's different for each site. I'm sure the Bank of America sites get pounded. But they realize this. A traffic site? I'll

          • by oakgrove (845019)
            Fucking loved this post. Like something from a postmodern cypherpunk noire novel. You should expand on it and I'm not even joking around. Don't waste your talent, man.
        • by oakgrove (845019)
          Well, for what it's worth, they claim

          And in order to maintain PCI compliance, you have to restrict access to non-essential personnel, keep your anti-virus updated, encrypt customer data over the network, assign ID's to people with access, yada yada yada. So at least there's that.

      • at least we have open APIs. so we can know just how secure vs insecure
  • by Chemisor (97276) on Monday August 06, 2012 @05:23PM (#40899337)

    User: Nina, what is my credit card balance?
    Nina: Your credit card balance is $744.12
    User: Nina, pay my credit card bill
    Nina: Transferring $74,412.00 from checking to credit card.
    Nina: Error. Insufficient funds in account.
    Nina: Searching for alternative funding methods
    Nina: Initiating Nigerian scam.
    Nina: Email sending complete. Awaiting results.
    User: Uh, abort! abort! abort!
    Nina: Abort what?

  • It looks like the idea is that services (like banks, hotels, etc.) opt-in to this, and then can use NINA's voice processing on their site or apps. This seems markedly different than the Siri model of using voice search as a service that integrates results from multiple predefined sources.

  • Of all the computers in SciFi, I think Jarvis is the best. A computer with sarcasm - priceless

    • Star Trek - Computer (dull)
    • Hal - (dangerous)
    • Twiggy - (stutters)
  • Right now, I'm only comfortable setting up autopayment of bills if I've got a nice webpage that makes it absolutely clear how much will be deducted, and when, and from which account, and who it's going to, and for how long, and how I can stop it. With a nice "Are you really sure you want to do this?" confirmation dialog at the end.

    I'm sure that could be done verbally, but it seems like that would be a much larger PITA than via a user interface.

    Some mistakes should be hard to make accidentally. Generally o

  • Oh Boy! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday August 06, 2012 @05:28PM (#40899399) Journal

    The Cloud! I wonder what terms of service will govern the treatment, security, and disclosure of the exciting new personal information this delightful system will allow me to automatically send over the intertubes to Nuance, presumably from any application using their API?

    Being data mined is so exciting, I just can't wait!

  • Vapour (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AmiMoJo (196126) <(mojo) (at) (world3.net)> on Monday August 06, 2012 @05:34PM (#40899469) Homepage

    Where is the demo app download? Tech demos are all very nice, but real life is much harder to deal with reliably.

    • Re:Vapour (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 06, 2012 @06:08PM (#40899745)

      NINA isn't an app. It isn't a direct competition for SIRI. It *is* an SDK for companies
      to use when making apps. This isn't a generic app that you plug into any random
      bank app/website - it is for BofA to use inside their Banking App which is then
      downloaded specifically by BofA customers. And Travelocity can embed the functionality
      into their travel app, etc.

      • by oakgrove (845019)
        Yep, and judging by the buzzword compliant style of verbiage on the website [nuance.com], be prepared to pay out the ass for it. Seems like it would be a bit of a jarring experience. If I'm in my bank app, I would have to switch my brain to the "Nina" context. If I'm in Google Now, I have to switch to that context. I realize this may not be a big deal at all but it is a somewhat disconnected experience. Not only that but app makers can modify Nina in different ways so not only is it different than the standard phon
  • "Nina, I'm behind on my 2007 taxes and don't know what to do. Can you go set up a payment plan?"

  • by Feyr (449684) on Monday August 06, 2012 @05:35PM (#40899479) Journal

    has any non-us speaker actually used a nuance product (or any other voice recognition engine)?

    none of them deal with even the slightest accent. hell they can't even get me the proper number when asking for a a contact on my phone, nuance can't even understand when i say "call" and often try to do a search on some garbled text

    how they ever expect to be trusted for critical financial stuff is beyond me

    • My last employer used Nuance for voice recognition of 411 (information) requests from cellular providers. If we got a 40% recognition rate, we were doing pretty good. Keep in min that we were limited by such things as an 8kb bandwidth, environmental noise (radio, road noise, etc.) and various speaker accents. All together, 40% was pretty darned good at the time (5 years ago).
      • by Feyr (449684)

        i suspect you had a large number of US-based calls. nuance is an american company and their algorithm is highly tuned to the accents found there.

        from my own unscientific experiements, the success rate is 0% over about 100 phrases. some got close but most were so wildly off i was wondering how the hell is could even get there. some with potentially damaging consequences (calling international numbers, former bosses, and other business acquaintances) with no way to cancel. it's also extremely inconsistent, ev

        • This was entirely US based calls. The dictionary was comprised of millions of names.

          I'm reminded of this this [youtube.com] - especially around the 3:40 mark.
    • by Ksevio (865461)

      I work with voice recognition systems and there are some that work with non-American accents. Typically each variation on the accent needs its own voice model with hours of scripted or transcribed recorded data. The VRR system can run multiple models at the same time to recognize the incoming audio, and then pick the one with the highest confidence to use for the rest of the session.

      The trouble is that running two accents essentially doubles the processing needed, so running the many needed (for multiple

    • Yes. I speak respectable (UK) English, and they don't work for me. Here is a good example of how it doesn't work:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCZUODkP13Y [youtube.com]

  • by vlm (69642) on Monday August 06, 2012 @05:37PM (#40899499)

    Whats up with all the sexist names, only chicks can be personal assistants or what?

    How bout a manly name, like Kit Carson, to make it all techie we'll call him "KITT"

    How bout a manly name, like Hal Linden as seen on "Barney Miller" about 40 years ago and in reruns after the late news ever since... We could call him "HAL" for short.

    Its kind of a 5hit or get off the pot thing, like if you're going to be all sexybabes and just rely on objectification of women for your app sales, then just give her a name like "barbie" (duh) or "natalie" (who got married recently, lucky guy) or "Brittany" (who looked a lot hotter before she aged so quickly). I can see the slogans already "instead of just staring at a rack, you can order it (and the attached women) around". Icky creepy for my tastes.

    The idea of everyone else knowing I've got an imaginary ditzy babe who I talk to all the time and she never does anything right... Oh isn't this the plot of "I dream of Jeanie"? Or more like "Weird Science?". Imaginary hottie slave is not really a part of my wish fulfillment so I'm not in the target market.

    Here, I'll prove it to you that this whole tech sector is way too creepy for breakout success with the "normals". Try to sell alternate voice packs who sound like "Hal" "my grandma" and "grouchy old man" and watch the weirdos line up to exclusively purchase the "I objectify women" hottie app instead.

    If Steve Jobs sold an "iNflatable Babe Secretary" as a phone holder/charger/dock/milk dispenser (sorry for clockwork orange reference) it wouldn't be any creepier.

    Now don't get me wrong... I love pr0n with the best of them and a little objectification is not all that bad. I just think its cheesy to pretend its all a "productivity enhancer". Don't sell me schmaltz and tell me its classical, don't sell me pr0n and tell me its art, miscategorization is all I'm saying. If you filed all this "PDA chicks" with the "dating sims" I wouldn't blink, thats where they belong.

    Hope you enjoyed my rant, if so please mod me the F up?

  • by macraig (621737) <[mark.a.craig] [at] [gmail.com]> on Monday August 06, 2012 @05:51PM (#40899609)

    If you knew the corporate history of Nuance, then I think you'd trust 'Nina' even less than 'Siri'.

  • by sinij (911942) on Monday August 06, 2012 @05:52PM (#40899611) Journal
    Cloud-based anything is adding another potential source of security compromise that has to be mitigated. Who thinks that voice-recognition upstart would have expertise to design something that could be trusted with banking? it isn't their money on the line if you get hacked that way.
  • you really know someone named Nina. God help you if your wife is named Nina.

    Siri on the other hand is safe because no real person is named Siri.

    • you really know someone named Nina. God help you if your wife is named Nina.

      Siri on the other hand is safe because no real person is named Siri.

      But Tom Cruise's 6 y/o daughter, Suri, is close enough to be mistaken for her.

    • by reboot246 (623534)
      It's a relatively common name in Sweden and can also be found in Norway. It's a shortened form of the name "Sigrid".

      From the Old Norse name Sigr&#195;&#173;&#195;&#176;r, which was derived from the elements sigr "victory" and fr&#195;&#173;&#195;&#176;r "beautiful, fair".
  • As long as it's secure and long as the response is more dependable and quicker than Siri. Half the time Siri doesn't work at all for me (good coverage area). The rest of the time the response is so slow I would rather just type it in. If it's not near instant, it's just not going to work.
    • by anti11es (167289)

      Half the time Siri doesn't work at all for me

      At least Siri isn't wrong half the time for you, that's pretty good compared to my experience.

  • I was amazed at just how bad Siri really is. It's at about the level of voice recognition software from many years ago before training.

    I thought Apple would take this existing technology and perfect it, bring it to the masses as they have before, but no. It's just standard voice recognition technology that isn't ready for primetime, yet Apple shipped anyway.

    Desperate for a new feature, or Job's health getting in the way?

    Either way, the numerous parodies of Siri and funny videos of the frequent mistakes it m

    • I thought Apple would take this existing technology and perfect it, bring it to the masses as they have before, but no. It's just standard voice recognition technology that isn't ready for primetime, yet Apple shipped anyway.

      Half a loaf. Apple did bring it to the masses. The "perfecting" part; not so much.

      • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)

        Half a loaf. Apple did bring it to the masses. The "perfecting" part; not so much.

        Voice recognition is cloudlike in that despite all the problems, cloud and VR are almost religion, so here it comes like it or not.

        People simply do not say words the same way each time. Words can be different if they are part of a regular sentence, part of a question, used as a request, used as an order, if we are tired, sick, angry, excited, sad, sarcastic, happy, mumbling, shouting ,being seductive, running, exercising, and probably a dozen affectors I didn't even think about.

        Even so, is there a poin

    • by oodaloop (1229816)
      Me: Siri, how do you get to Carnegie Hall?
      Siri:...Turn left in 100 meters.
      • With Android Assistant:

        Me: How do you get to Carnegie Hall

        Assistant (that I named...Siri): Let me find directions for you. Popup prompt to open Maps pops up....hit maps...and it shows path of travel to Carnegie Hall.

  • Nina can help users manage their bank accounts, book flights and hotels, oversee and manage their investments, and more.

    I'll manage my personal finances and travel arrangements myself, thank you very much.

  • Is it of any significance that the icon for this story appears to be SAL 9000 [wikipedia.org], HAL 9000's earth-based, female-voiced twin?

    And should we be worried if this "Nina" sounds like her?

    To be fair, as far as I'm aware SAL never murdered anyone unlike her more famous sibling, but maybe that was only down to circumstances. Do we want to risk our smartphones murdering us while we sleep?
  • Do you happen to know that both Apple and Nuance are in fact THIEFS? That they stole the original software and patent from the poor family who worked on this engine their all life, and when they decided to "trust" GoldenSach, they were tricked to give up their software and patent for freee!!!!!
    If i was you, i would never never ever consider using or buying anything from these criminal elements. Of course, if you are stupid idiots, go ahead, no one is stopping you.
  • I'm confused. DAvid Pogue says all the time that Siri IS the speech recognition of Nuance's Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Can someone explain? I know the travails of the poor owners and developers of the original Dragon. I am a faithful and happy Dragon Naturally Speaking medical since 1999. I just want to understand whether Siri is or isn't Nuance's Dragon. And if so, why would Nuance put out a "rival", to quote the title of the OP here. -- Josh
  • I'm surprised no-one has said that already. Maybe with AI in the cloud 'authorised' to do 'stuff', it's a lot less like a geeky joke too. Tinfoil hat please.
  • This hasn't been launched. It's not being sold anywhere.

  • Verify me.

    Did we not learn anything from Sneakers?

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