Computer vision provides a powerful tool for the interaction between man and machine. The barrier between physical objects (paper, pencils, and calculators) and their electronic counterparts limits both the integration of computing into human tasks, and the population willing to adapt to the required input devices. Computer vision, coupled with video projection using low cost devices, makes it possible for a human to use any convenient object, including fingers, as digital input devices. In such an "augmented reality" information is projected onto ordinary objects and acquired by watching the way objects are manipulated. A simple example of augmented reality is provided by the "digital desk" In the first part of this paper we describe experiments with techniques for watching the hands of a human.
Human–computer interaction (HCI) is the study of interaction between people (users) and computers. It is often regarded as the intersection of computer science, behavioral sciences, design and several other fields of study. Interaction between users and computers occurs at the user interface (or simply interface), which includes both software and hardware; for example, characters or objects displayed by software on a personal computer's monitor, input received from users via hardware peripherals such as keyboards and mice, and other user interactions with large-scale computerized systems such as aircraft and power plants. The Association for Computing Machinery defines human-computer interaction as "a discipline concerned with the design, evaluation and implementation of interactive computing systems for human use and with the study of major phenomena surrounding them. An important facet of HCI is the securing of user satisfaction (see Computer user satisfaction).
Interactive Voice Response (IVR) product, interactive technology that allows a computer to detect voice and keypad inputs. IVR technology is used extensively in telecommunications, but is also being introduced into automobile systems for hands-free operation. Current deployment in automobiles revolves around satellite navigation, audio and mobile phone systems. In telecommunications, IVR allows customers to access a company’s database via a telephone touchtone keypad or by speech recognition, after which they can service their own enquiries by following the instructions. IVR systems can respond with pre-recorded or dynamically generated audio to further direct users on how to proceed. IVR systems can be used to control almost any function where the interface can be broken down into a series of simple menu choices. In telecommunications applications, such as customer support lines, IVR systems generally scale well to handle large call volumes.
It has become common in industries that have recently entered the telecom industry to refer to an Automated Attendant as an IVR. The terms Automated Attendant and IVR are distinct and mean different things to traditional telecom professionals, whereas emerging telephony and VoIP professionals often use the term IVR as a catch-all to signify any kind of telephony menu, even a basic automated attendant.
Interactive voice response solutions:
Complete analog and digital IVR phone systems.
IVR application development software solutions.
IVR development by our experienced staff.
Complete IVR outsourcing services at our secure call center.
Full set of IVR phone applications.
Complete set of interactive voice response reports and graphs.
IVR Voice XML
Access remote information within IVR programs.
Interview on Future of IVR
In a TMCnet interview, Barry Sher, vice president of business development at IVR Technologies, Inc. has stated that retail services are the strongest segment of the communication industry. IVR is an LA based software development company that provides a fully integrated application, media and billing server to a next-generation networks. According to Mr. Sher, carriers seeking to negotiate the current economic crisis can’t rely solely on wholesale origination and termination because “the margins have worn too thin and the competition is too great, especially with connection-less and temporal SIP trunking gaining in popularity.”
Barry Sher has participated in the ITEXPO West in September is interviewed by TMC President Rich Tehrani, opined that “Carriers must add high margin and in-demand applications that can drive revenues to their networks, allow them to differentiate their services and help to reduce their customer churn.” Sher also commented that Latin America and the EMEA region will witness the strongest growth in IVR in the near future. The original article written by TMCnet columnist Michael Dinan featured under “IVR / VoiceXML Featured Article” titled “SIP Trunking's Success Puts Pressure on Carriers: IVR Expert” can be read here. The interview follows...
Rich Tehrani: What has the economic crisis taught you, and how has it changed your customers?
Barry Sher (pictured left): The economic crisis has taught us to be more sensitive to our customer’s cash flow challenges and their need for flexible and creative financing terms. IVR Technologies, Inc. is in a unique position to be able to finance customers in-house so we can custom tailor the financing terms and conditions to fit their specific requirements.
As a result of our ability to finance our customers’ purchases with flexible and creative terms and conditions we are able to help our customers modernize their networks with revenue generating and profit driving applications that help them further overcome their financial challenges by growing their market share.
RT: How is this down economy affecting your decisions to reinvest in your company or market, if at all? Where will you invest?
BS: As a debt-free company with a favorable cash position, IVR Technologies, Inc. is in a fortunate position to be able to aggressively invest in our business during this economic downturn in the areas of product development, internal systems automation and enhanced marketing initiatives.
RT: What’s the strongest segment in the communications industry?
BS: We see the retail services as the strongest segment of the communications industry. In these challenging and highly competitive times carriers can no long live on just wholesale origination and termination as the margins have worn too thin and the competition is too great, especially with connection-less and temporal SIP trunking gaining in popularity. Carriers must add high margin and in-demand applications that can drive revenues to their networks, allow them to differentiate their services and help to reduce their customer churn.
RT: With the rise of smartphones and netbooks, many wireless technologies, such as Wi-Fi (News - Alert), appear to be poised for rapid growth. For example, we’re seeing more and more airlines add in-flight WiFi. In general, how widespread should Wi-Fi be, in your view?
BS: WiFi should be accessible as broadly and as widely as possible and for as little as possible. We hope that government stimulus funds helps municipal WiFi initiatives, especially in rural areas as we feel the Internet helps empower citizens and can serve as an economic driver. We see availability and accessibility adding to the speed of business as well as growing public awareness and empowering citizens in the areas of media, news/information dissemination, disaster notification, community events, commerce, and social networking.
RT: Which nation or region of the world will present the largest opportunity for your company in 2009/10?
BS: While North America has remained a very strong market for IVR Technologies, Inc. we also see our market share growing substantially in Latin American and EMEA.
RT: In what ways is President Barack Obama helping or hindering the technology markets? What more can he do?
BS: The stimulus funds have helped the technology markets by providing much needed funding to under serviced, disaster related and depressed markets to rebuild themselves and help drive opportunity for the equipment and service markets. While government involvement is not always timely nor seamless it often provides funds to certain regions that would normally be ignored by the free market.
RT: What device or devices do you use, and what do you wish you used?
BS: The main devices that I use every day to conduct business are IVR’s Talking SIP (News - Alert) platform, my iPhone, an IP-based SIP phone and WebEx.
RT: What has the iPhone 3G taught us? I know it’s very new, but what about the Palm Pre? What are we learning from the smartphones based on the open source Google Android ( News - Alert) platform?
BS: Smartphones such as the iPhone which I am partial too, have provided me with access and capabilities that I can no longer live without. I am tied to my Smartphone for such activities as: managing IM and e-mail messages; initiating and participating in WebEx conferences; searching our Oracle CRM system for sales information; making International SIP calls, and staying in touch with family and friends on social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. The iPhone’s high level SDK and centralized App store provides developers with the opportunity to focus all of their efforts on the application rather than the distribution channel resulting in greater utility and benefit for the end user on a device that provides Internet PC functionality in the palm of your hand.
The current Smartphone offerings have shown us that the market has an insatiable appetite for these powerful and connected devices and that developers are not necessarily looking for open source but rather a development environment that is readily available, easy to use, and well-documented with a centralized app store.
RT: I understand you are speaking during ITEXPO West, to be held Sept. 1 to 3 in Los Angeles. Describe your talk and tell us what companies or people should attend.
BS: I will be part of a panelist discussion regarding HD Voice. Our HD Voice focus here at IVR Technologies, Inc. is in the area of applications. By being one of the first enhanced services platforms to support HD Voice we are helping our customers differentiate themselves from their competition through a richer and fuller voice experience. Companies who are interested in learning more about how to differentiate their services from the competition and build higher margins should definitely attend.
RT: Why should customers choose your company’s solutions? How do they justify the expense to management?
BS: IVR Technologies, Inc. is the leading provider of enhanced services and fully-integrated real-time billing that drives revenue to the network, reduces customer churn through robust, feature-rich and online managed applications, and has one of the fastest turn-up times and lowest administration overheads in the industry resulting in a very quick return on investment.
Through a consolidated network architecture, in-demand and innovative applications, and a scalable/extensible architecture we can help companies modernize their networks, capitalize on the efficiencies of a SIP-based network, differentiate themselves from their competition, drive revenue and margin to their networks and ensure their investment is future-protected through continual innovation and development of best-in-class applications/services.
This report will deliver the results of the publisher's 2009 research on Integrated Voice Response (IVR) technology deployments. The Ascent Group has been conducting multi-industry research into IVR utilization and best practices since 1994.
The Ascent Group conducted research during the third and fourth quarter of 2009 to better understand how different companies and industries are utilizing IVR technology to improve service delivery and customer satisfaction and reduce operating costs. The publisher asked companies to share IVR strategies and experiences to identify the practices that lead to higher customer usage, acceptance, and satisfaction. They also asked companies to provide their plans moving forward as well as lessons learned along the way.
This report will profile research participants in a case study format, sharing current IVR practices, lessons learned, challenges overcome, plans for the future, and business practices that have led to improved IVR performance. In addition, the report provides detailed results and analysis from the survey itself and detail "best practices" demonstrated by the report's participants.
The report will also profile the IVR technology in place within these companies, provides an analysis of IVR strategies and approaches, including deployment drivers, IVR objectives, IVR measurement techniques, system features, and promotional campaigns. Finally, the report explores the successes achieved as a result of IVR deployment.
Key Topics Covered: List of Report Analysis & Graph Exhibits IVR Findings & Trends Recommendations for Improvement Innovative or Winning Strategies List of Participants Call centers per Company Hours of operation Countries represented Industries represented Total inbound calls Total outbound calls Percent outbound/inbound calls Agents per Center IVR handled calls (% of inbound) IVR utilization by industry Average span of control (reps per supv) Abandoned Calls Opt Out Rates Opt Out Rates by Industry IVR Self-Service Offerings Number of Menu Items Opt Out Offered on Main Menu? IVR Vendors Represented IVR System Maturity IVR System Maturity by Industry IVR System Configuration Drivers of IVR Implementation IVR Deployment Strategies Use of Speech Recognition Use of CTI (News - Alert) Use of Wait Time Announcements Use of Queue Announcements Measures of IVR Success Measure IVR Customer Satisfaction? Promote IVR Usage to Customers Encourage Agents to Promote IVR Use Use of Call Monitoring for IVR Interaction IVR Reliability Testing Benefits IVR- Handled Calls Equivalent FTEs Lessons Learned Top 5 IVR Challenges Plans for Improvement For more information and a sample executive summary from IVR Improvement Strategies 2008 please visit.
Future of IVR
I think the answer depends on the economy. In countries like US, Korea, Japan etc. where access to personal computers/broadband etc. is fairly high, IVR will usually die out. This is because for issues where self-help is a legitimate option is better solved through a visual online interface where going back and forth through various options is fairly easy. No matter how simple you try to make your IVR interface there is always a navigational challenge. There is also a challenge with regards to how much and how detailed you can provide information before the customer get lost or confused. In these environments when a customer calls, it is usually because they have a problem and sooner you can get them to a real person who solves their problem - lower the cost for the service provider and higher the satisfaction for the customer. In less developed economies where access to phones is now widespread and access to computers still very limited, IVRs will remain relevant for a long time.
There is a perception that as development of Speech (Voice Recognition) Applications can be performed more within VXML this will simplify and reduce the costs of delivering speech solutions instead of the traditional but slower touchtone IVRs. This end-state has not been reached largely due to the need to attach voice files and application integration capabilities as well as call control to the VXML applications. Its not so far off though. Bottom line is that though many customers do not like automation when it works well it drives down both the costs for Service and the total time spent by a customer. Younger people who still call a system expect an IVR. I see IVR capabilities being driven directly into web sites through VXML enabled applications but as a support to what may become the new 'voice' - web chat. Effectively a web-based IVR system would perform the IVR equivalent for chat that IVRs perform for voice contacts today. Response on future of IVR from Mr.Bill Meisel, Vice President of Client Services:
Interactive Voice Response (IVR) should ideally refer to the full potential of the Voice User Interface in telephony, although it often is closely associated with conventional call center operations. If it is a “thin layer of phone smarts” between a caller and an agent, for example, as one responder in this blog characterizes it, any real growth in using the telephone channel will require a breakthrough in training and retaining agents, as well as some deep pockets. The Web is certainly not viewed as a thin veneer between us and the email or instant messaging responses of contact center employees.
The real potential for IVR (or the telephone voice user interface, if one wants to avoid the historical connotations of IVR) is related to other trends in telephony–lower costs of telephone calls related to IP telephony; the voice channel eventually becoming more common on PCs as well as standard phones; networking companies, web companies, and telephone companies all converging on the same market, among other dramatic changes. The growing impact of targeted marketing such as that provided by companies like Google on the web, along with the aforementioned trends that minimize differences between the telephone and the Web, will lead to customers viewing the telephone as a marketing channel. To handle the increased call volume and longer calls economically, IVR must have a strong component of automation, leaving agents for the most difficult or valuable calls. The focus of the call center will become making the most of each call, enhancing customer relationships, rather than getting the caller off the line as quickly as possible. The priority will remain to quickly resolve any specific issues or questions the caller has, but IVR will have to deal with other objectives as well–responding to peaks caused by advertising campaigns in other media, adding entertainment value (carefully), and generating revenue and good will.
A basic goal of HCI is to improve the interactions between users and computers by making computers more usable and receptive to the user's needs. Specifically, HCI is concerned with:
methodologies and processes for designing interfaces (i.e., given a task and a class of users, design the best possible interface within given constraints, optimizing for a desired property such as learning ability or efficiency of use)
methods for implementing interfaces (e.g. software toolkits and libraries; efficient algorithms)
techniques for evaluating and comparing interfaces
developing new interfaces and interaction techniques
developing descriptive and predictive models and theories of interaction