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Voice AI: A brief history

Updated: Jan 23, 2023

Voice AI, also known as speech recognition or voice recognition technology, has a rich history dating back to the early 1900s.

In the 1920s, Bell Labs developed a device called the "Audrey" which could recognize a limited number of spoken digits. However, it wasn't until the 1950s that more advanced speech recognition systems began to be developed. For example, IBM's "Shoebox" machine could recognize 16 words and digits spoken by a single speaker.

The 1960s saw the development of the first continuous speech recognition systems, which were able to recognize speech in real time rather than needing to pause between words. This was made possible by advancements in computer technology and the introduction of hidden Markov models, a statistical technique used to model time-series data.

In the 1970s and 1980s, voice recognition technology began to be integrated into telephone systems, allowing for the creation of voice-controlled call routing systems. By the 1990s, speech recognition had advanced enough that it could be used for dictation and other applications such as voice-controlled personal assistants.

The 2000s saw the development of more sophisticated voice recognition systems, such as those used in virtual assistants like Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa. These systems were able to understand natural language and carry out complex tasks, such as making phone calls and setting reminders.

Recent years have seen even more advancements in voice AI, such as the development of deep learning algorithms which have improved speech recognition accuracy and made it possible for machines to understand more complex and nuanced speech. Additionally, the proliferation of smart speakers and other internet-connected devices has made it easier for people to interact with voice AI in their daily lives.

Overall, the history of voice AI is one of steady progress, with each decade bringing new advances in technology and new applications for the technology. In the coming years, we will likely continue to see even more developments in this field, making voice AI an increasingly important and integral part of our daily lives.


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