• Oleg Voronko

Voice Recognition in VR/AR for Business. Part 2: Opportunities


Broken VR Immersion


In seemingly completed VR/AR systems, a paradoxical feeling of incompleteness still is present. You can see modified things, hear unique sounds, explore new environments, and even touch or manipulate things with objects, but something is missing. You can’t communicate and give orders. To change conditions in the generated three-dimensional space, you need to click on a button, type the text, or wait for the assistance of a supervisor.


The lack of voice recognition drastically affects training processes for “person-to-person” specialists, which now are widely conducted via VR. When plunging into an artificially created situation, employees expect to practice their skills of interacting with people through real-world examples. First off, this assumes live communications and the use of oral speech. However, current approaches eliminate voice technology, making the training seemingly unnatural and awkward. Instead of verbal expressions, studying ones should exploit the manual VR navigation. For customer service, such preparation is inefficient, as good professionals must have a well-developed ability to speak.


Another “broken VR” case is gameplay, especially in the RPG genre where it’s necessary to provide a player’s deep connection with the role of some fantasy hero. In such games, when having a dialogue with other characters, you use a controller to select necessary replies, instead of pronouncing them. No logic jumps during a talk, no AI algorithms keeping the course of a conversation going based on the closest in meaning phrases—in total, no feeling of true presence.


Oleg Voronko, CEO of Phonal Technologies, specializing in the development of voice-driven interfaces for VR/AR applications, concludes:


“Speech addition is a step forward in the training and entertainment evolution. By making conversations and general interaction more diversified and native, like in the real reality, voice technology ensures the natural way of existing in the virtual environment. Presence and naturalness are the core factors influencing the quality of VR immersion. The more sensation components you add, the more convincing the experience will be. Without the voice, this fine concept is almost entirely meaningless.”


The advanced VR systems running on voice can bring significant improvements to a market. Among the most popular of directions, we can highlight the following:



Training of personnel


No matter what process we take, tech implementation, research, or customer support, speech recognition can play an essential role for training personnel. Also with VR training, engineers are able to deepen their technical knowledge and skills in constructing models in the virtual space. By applying the voice control, they drastically save time on performing manual functions and they can more accurately create prototypes. They can give commands orally and transform the model elements on the fly with no fear of being mistaken.


As we’ve already figured out, no less useful VR technology based on voice algorithms is for training customer support and sales departments. Before dealing with real people, interns are able to develop their communication skills in a role-playing virtual ecosystem, which includes various real-life contexts with clients. You can immerse an employee in the prepared conflict or extraordinary situation to check how he/she will act as if it would be a real case. A mentor observes the conversation and then discusses results with a worker to fill the detected gaps and correct weak interaction patterns. Such an approach makes training more productive and pleasant for all sides.



Training of management skills


Continuing the topic of training soft skills, we should pay special attention to the effectiveness of VR for improving management competence, including leadership and diplomacy. You can create the entire platform with different use cases where a team leader can test his management abilities. The training mechanism will be close to the work with customer support specialists, but you’ll program other relevant scenarios. For example, add a situation when a manager should negotiate salary changes with subordinates or boost the motivation of a team. Based on the employee’s replies, the flow of events will change, and his/her task is to maintain a positive dynamic of what is happening there.



Training of the team collaboration skills


Training teams in virtual reality is a real trend nowadays. Since this technology is extremely interactive, workers not just observe and listen to a supervisor, but they actively participate in the process with a high level of empathy. Due to this, it is an effective tool for improving both hard and soft skills.


Using VR in combination with speech commands, it’s much easier to simulate a non-linear scenario, either to add unforeseen events in an interaction and train the right reaction to them or to create a flexible script when each next event depends on the previous phrase, the so-called heuristic tasks. This can be incredibly useful for conducting team brainstorming sessions when all members should generate as many practical suggestions as possible and find a compromise solution.


You can also use the VR format in corporate training to develop meta-competences of your employees who require creativity, analytical skills, the ability to work in a team, and the capacity to resolve conflicts. Such features can be gained in virtual game situations distanced from the regular working scenarios.


HR hiring process to test applicants


VR simulators can strengthen companies with mass recruitment at the interview stage to make a primary candidate selection. With the emergence of the modern recruiting principle, “do not speak, show what you can do,” the VR comes in handy for HR managers in a practical check of the candidate’s skills and their objective evaluation. To obtain correct information about the expertise of the applicant, the VR program with built-in voice technology can help recruiters keep up the dialogue and analyze answers, considering dozens of indicators connected with accuracy, speed, and confidence, and, if necessary, compare them with standard values ​​without subjective distortions inherent in a human.



HR familiarization with the company culture


When searching for the work position, the dream of each specialist is to get a job into a prosperous modern company with a good culture and friendly team. Reading the perfectly composed vacancies is one thing, while seeing all real advantages the organization provides is absolutely another experience, more valuable and convincing.


With this in mind, Commonwealth Bank of Australia implemented the innovative VR Career Lab working via Oculus Rift. Their idea is to give candidates a clear insight into the culture of CBA and the projects their employees take on. Being immersed in the artificial lab, applicants can get an inside look at what it is like to work at this corporation and explore first-hand how they’re using innovative and agile work practices to develop market-leading solutions. In this way, CBA builds stronger candidate interest than if it would just saying it is an innovative bank. It shows it by having such an innovative recruiting tool. And showing is always more effective than telling.

Advancement of the CBA’s Virtual Reality Career Experience by voice control will leave no room for doubts whether this workplace deserves your choice.



3D spaces exploration


This feature can be perfectly applied to the areas of architectural design modeling and interior design. Virtual reality provides architects and stylists with the possibilities to see what a future building will look like, walk through the virtual corridors, check rooms’ arrangement, analyze the safety level, and experiment with interior design elements. By accompanying exploration with voice, workers can easily change some objects and conditions, f.e, momentarily increase a height of ceilings, replace the furniture or paint the walls, without interrupting the motion and concentration.



Learning foreign languages


Voice technology start proving its indispensability for VR applications for language education. Based on AI algorithms, this kind of software allows people to experience live conversations with virtual assistants in different languages without leaving home.


One of such innovative solutions for polyglots is Mondly VR app developed by ATi Studios. Their technology uses advanced speech recognition and self-learning chatbot, which now understands millions of phrases and words in 28 different languages. By getting instant feedback, users enrich their vocabulary and turn training into a fun activity.


Despite bright and optimistic tendencies a voice recognition system in VR can bring to major business processes, it’s quite early to talk about its mass adoption due to imperfections peculiar to any new innovation.

The Future of VR Lies through the Voice


If earlier users have been familiar with the voice recognition system in terms of smart assistants on their mobile phones or other devices, now more and more companies are thinking about new incredible ways of its application. VR seems to be one of the most promising for voice recognition. Starting from the activities of daily living and an innovated gaming experience, VR powered by speech technology has the possibility of revolutionizing all modern markets and businesses worldwide.

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