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Nuance Launches Siri Rival "Nina"

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the battle-of-the-virtual-assistants dept.

AI 87

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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87 comments

I'm sorry sir, but... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40899319)

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

Great another security worry (1)

raind (174356) | about a year and a half ago | (#40899335)

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

Re:Great another security worry (1)

postbigbang (761081) | about a year and a half ago | (#40899445)

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. What is that guy doing with all those walnuts???

Re:Great another security worry (1)

dzfoo (772245) | about a year and a half ago | (#40899613)

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.

Re:Great another security worry (1)

postbigbang (761081) | about a year and a half ago | (#40899689)

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 bet they're not as worried. The payoff for the BofA seems juicer, except you're likely being watched, and so you're playing your best game. They're both not in your home or office, and you're not such a brilliant security person.

Sites get cracked all the time. I've been cracked and watched them take me down near midnight one night. What they didn't know: I can remote reset and clean the chain in seconds. But my site has no money in it whatsoever. Not a dime. They didn't know that, and they still don't. In the next cabinet is a pretty juicy target. They're armed to the teeth. If I bang my cabinet loudly enough, alarms go off in theirs. It's all about priorities and constant change.

Re:Great another security worry (1)

oakgrove (845019) | about a year and a half ago | (#40907357)

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.

Re:Great another security worry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40901879)

As you have no clue where Apple's is hosted

And you seem to have no clue where Nintendo's is hosted.

Manager bank accounts? (5, Funny)

Chemisor (97276) | about a year and a half ago | (#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?

Re:Manager bank accounts? (2)

Sfing_ter (99478) | about a year and a half ago | (#40899555)

The Skynet Funding Bill is passed. The system goes on-line August 6th, 2012. Human decisions are removed from strategic defense. Skynet begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug.

No NINA, NO!!

Re:Manager bank accounts? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40900017)

Siri: Is this the comic you're looking for? http://xkcd.com/416/

Re:Manager bank accounts? (2)

steelfood (895457) | about a year and a half ago | (#40900381)

User: Uh, abort! abort! abort!
Nina: I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.

FTFY

Re:Manager bank accounts? (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about a year and a half ago | (#40901591)

Pah! No anthropomorphized personal assistant can match the sheer elegance and beauty of ViGOR.

Nope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40899339)

I don't know if I would want any Cloud based service handling that...

hmmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40899343)

What a pitch! I feel safer already...

Is this really a Siri rival? (1)

Fwipp (1473271) | about a year and a half ago | (#40899357)

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.

Re:Is this really a Siri rival? (4, Funny)

Gerzel (240421) | about a year and a half ago | (#40899861)

I'm just looking forward to the youtube video where you get Siri and Nina beside one another and talking. Hoping it ends in a fight with Nina calling Siri a slut.

I want Jarvis (1)

bigredradio (631970) | about a year and a half ago | (#40899359)

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)

Re:I want Jarvis (1)

vlm (69642) | about a year and a half ago | (#40899527)

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)

Well, here's someone who never watched Andromeda. Rommie was the best of them.

Re:I want Jarvis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40900337)

Rommie certainly is/was the best looking!

Re:I want Jarvis (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40899633)

No, Marvin is the best.

Re:I want Jarvis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40899655)

If fictional characters is allowed, I want Juiz. She is the ultimate Telephone assistant and can do various things that breaks the law like getting people murdered or even blackmailing the Prime Minister. Having the cellphone charged with a cell phone charged with ¥8.2 billion in digital money isn't that bad either.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eden_of_the_East

Re:I want Jarvis (1)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#40899667)

"Brain the size of a planet, personality disorders to match, and I don't even get mentioned." - Marvin

I don't even trust myself to do those things... (2)

QilessQi (2044624) | about a year and a half ago | (#40899361)

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 ones involving health and money.

Lawyer Up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40899383)

I hope Nina has good council...

Would I Trust Siri? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40899387)

Hell, I don't trust my bank's phone service and there's ostensibly an intelligent human being listening to my request!

Oh Boy! (3, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#40899399)

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 (3, Insightful)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year and a half ago | (#40899469)

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

Re:Vapour (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#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.

Re:Vapour (1)

oakgrove (845019) | about a year and a half ago | (#40900653)

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 phone voice input but it's different from itself depending on which app you're in that uses it. Then there's the stigma of talking to your phone anyway since it doesn't even get the "hold it up to your ear" pass that Siri gets. I'll wait and see but I wouldn't expect this to make any huge impact. If anything it will help spur on Apple and Google's efforts.

nuance? not on my life (4, Informative)

Feyr (449684) | about a year and a half ago | (#40899479)

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

Re:nuance? not on my life (1)

OhSoLaMeow (2536022) | about a year and a half ago | (#40899533)

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).

Re:nuance? not on my life (1)

Feyr (449684) | about a year and a half ago | (#40899715)

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, even when spelling the same names a few times. keep in mind this is with a limited vocabulary (ie, contacts names). on free text it's even worse

Re:nuance? not on my life (1)

OhSoLaMeow (2536022) | about a year and a half ago | (#40909163)

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.

Re:nuance? not on my life (1)

Ksevio (865461) | about a year and a half ago | (#40900755)

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 incoming calls) requires a much more powerful server farm.

Too sexist and weird for me, sorry (2)

vlm (69642) | about a year and a half ago | (#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?

Re:Too sexist and weird for me, sorry (2)

metrix007 (200091) | about a year and a half ago | (#40899651)

Siri can have a male voice, which makes your rant all but irrelevant.

Re:Too sexist and weird for me, sorry (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about a year and a half ago | (#40901121)

Siri was also the name of a gay starship captain in "The Forever War".

Re:Too sexist and weird for me, sorry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40905985)

Why do you assume that Nina is a woman's name, you sexist pig of indeterminate gender?

Adding another weak link = insecure (2)

sinij (911942) | about a year and a half ago | (#40899611)

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.

Nina fails if (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | about a year and a half ago | (#40899617)

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.

Re:Nina fails if (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | about a year and a half ago | (#40899721)

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.

Re:Nina fails if (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40899799)

Nina is fine, as long as you keep it away from Hans...

Re:Nina fails if (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40899823)

Nina? From the Cantina?

She's that bird wot shagged our bass player.

Re:Nina fails if (1)

reboot246 (623534) | about a year and a half ago | (#40899853)

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 Sigríðr, which was derived from the elements sigr "victory" and fríðr "beautiful, fair".

Re:Nina fails if (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40902335)

God help you if your wife is named Nina. Siri on the other hand is safe because no real person is named Siri.

My wife is called Siri, you insensitive clod!

Waiting... (1)

Grizzley9 (1407005) | about a year and a half ago | (#40899619)

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.

Re:Waiting... (1)

anti11es (167289) | about a year and a half ago | (#40900165)

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.

Siri is terrible (1)

metrix007 (200091) | about a year and a half ago | (#40899643)

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 makes probably isn't good marketing....

Re:Siri is terrible (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | about a year and a half ago | (#40899749)

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.

Re:Siri is terrible (1)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about a year and a half ago | (#40969763)

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 point in talking to our devices? Have fingers quit working, and we didn't get the memo? Is there ever a time when we don't want to be telling everyone around us what we're doing?

I think that we'll be enjoying cheap safe fusion power before we have actual functioning voice recognition systems.

Re:Siri is terrible (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | about a year and a half ago | (#40900485)

Me: Siri, how do you get to Carnegie Hall?
Siri:...Turn left in 100 meters.

Re:Siri is terrible (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | about a year and a half ago | (#40908529)

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.

Re:Siri is terrible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40902343)

I was amazed at just how bad Siri really is. ... It's just standard voice recognition technology that isn't ready for primetime.

Except SIRI isn't voice recognition software at all. Duh!

Home Automation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40899647)

Can anyone recommend something like this that is suitable for a home automation system but NOT cloud based?

Ya, no. (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about a year and a half ago | (#40899767)

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.

Question... (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | about a year and a half ago | (#40899795)

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?

interesting tech demo... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40899913)

If a little scary because of the horrifying mistakes it could make. I wonder if this will be a future direction for Siri... nuance technology is what is behind the scenes to power Siri.

Thiefs.... (0)

stanlyb (1839382) | about a year and a half ago | (#40900261)

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.

Re:Thiefs.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40900955)

More info please

Nina? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40900299)

It should be Max Headroom handling my accounts!

Nuance makes something new? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40900575)

I thought Nuance is where good software goes to die ( a long painful death)

Open the door Nina! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40901059)

ifriend 0.9

Doesn't Siri = Nuance = Dragon NaturallySpeaking? (2)

jds91md (2439128) | about a year and a half ago | (#40901161)

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 see ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40901987)

I see an explosion in demand for voice imitation art. Heck, there are even tons of software for it

wtf (1)

seansobes (1691592) | about a year and a half ago | (#40902201)

People get more lazy every fuckin day. "Oh, its so hard to press some buttons! Blah blah blah I worked 8 hours a day and I don't have time to do it! Siri, what's my name? Am I a waste of flesh?".

Cloud based AI = Skynet (1)

hughbar (579555) | about a year and a half ago | (#40902463)

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.

Reiser killed Nina (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#40902979)

Reiser killed nina and was right to do so. She had sex with some other man. I am glad he put her in the gggggground. I hope he continues his rampage against the geek feminists that support her and are happy that he is being wrongfully imprisoned by their feminist pro-woman government that also stamps out child marriage of girls around the globe.

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