CloudCar’s Lisa Falkson to Speak at RoboUniverse Tomorrow

Hi Lisa, why don’t you go ahead and introduce yourself!?

My name is Lisa Falkson and I’m a Voice User Interface (VUI) Designer for CloudCar. We just launched the justDrive app for Jaguar Land Rover.

Exciting. So what exactly does your role entail?

Well, the VUI Designer is actually a very specialized role. Basically, I define the voice interaction between the user and the system. It’s hard to explain without throwing a lot of examples at you, but it makes a huge difference how you word your questions to the user. That will determine how naturally they speak, and how well the speech recognition works.

That does sound very specialized. What else?

I do a lot of data analysis, which involves reviewing user responses and improving our natural language understanding (NLU) engine so that we are able to anticipate and act upon a variety of user input. I’ve spent about 15 years in the speech recognition industry, starting with IVRs, basically replacing touchtone phone systems with speech recognition equivalents. Then I worked for a startup that created video interactions that were guided by the user’s voice, kind of like a video “choose your own adventure.” Most recently before CloudCar, I worked on Amazon’s first 3 speech recognition systems: FireTV, Fire Phone, and Echo.

So what excited you about coming to CloudCar?

It was the opportunity to work on something that’s truly needed in the auto industry. A cleaner, simpler user experience for both graphical and speech interfaces is desperately needed in order to keep people from using their cell phones in the car. If we can make the in-car infotainment systems significantly better, we will help reduce driver distraction and hopefully save lives! I’m really impressed with the team here, and what we’ve been able to accomplish with the first deployment for Jaguar Land Rover.

Save lives?

Ha ha. It may sound funny, but yes. Our solution is the first of its kind to focus not just on functionality; it puts safety at the forefront, via completely hands free control. There are a lot of apps and solutions to connect your phone, etc. but ours is truly designed to be driver-centric… so the driver can focus on driving!

Wow that is really cool. So what is going on with you this December?

Well I have been asked to speak on this panel and I am super excited about it. It’s called RoboUniverse and it’s coming up on the 16th.

What is RoboUniverse? What is the panel about?

RoboUniverse is an interesting conference, and very different from any of the ones I have spoken in before. They are exploring robotic innovation in all types of industries, from agriculture to healthcare, AI and technology. Since speech recognition is the most natural user interface of all, they are having this panel to discuss the latest advancements. Here is a quick summary/description of the panel I will be speaking on:

Natural Language Processing – What’s Next in Speech Recognition?

Voice and Speech recognition has a long history of struggles and improvements that seems to continuously improve with each generation of technology. Now speech is becoming a major interface for home/consumer robots, mobile devices, interactive kiosks and general computer interfaces. Mobile platforms are crossing into their competitive smartphones, new players are entering the space as a frontend for IoT applications and the backend platforms are growing that provide the technology to answer all your questions. This session will discuss the latest advances and players in the booming speech market.


That sounds really interesting. Who else will be speaking?

The two other speakers are Leor Grebler, Co-Founder and CEO, Unified Computer Intelligence Corporation and Jonathon Nostrant, Founder & CEO, ivee

Interestingly, they are both founders of companies that created in-home devices with speech recognition, called Ubi and ivee. These devices can do things like play music, connect with light & temperature systems to turn them on/off or change settings. They integrate with other providers like Nest, SmartThings, Philip’s Hue, Spotify, etc. This is a very different domain from automotive, so they will have a perspective that is unique from mine. However, I did work on a similar device at Amazon, called Echo, so I have some experience in that domain.

What will the discussion be about?

I think the discussion will be around the future of speech recognition – essentially, where the industry is headed over the next few years. This often breaks down into a couple of different topics:

1) Technological advances. Will speech recognition become more accurate in noisy environments? Will it work better/adapt for non-native speakers? Will the natural language understanding (NLU) become more advanced and flexible, so that virtually anything can be understood?  Will new features like emotion recognition become part of the technology moving forward?
2) What will the next big applications be? There are great things coming in the near future such as robots like Jibo, that are personal assistants in a physical sense, not just the virtual one (i.e. on a phone)
What are you most excited about?

I’m extremely excited about the direction that we are heading in the automotive infotainment industry. I enjoy sharing our good news with folks at conferences in presentations, panels, etc. People are seeing the value in what we do, creating a safer driver experience by simplifying the user experience for navigation, communication and media in the automobile.

What is exciting about 2016? What are you seeing….?

I am most excited about several things. First, seeing the adoption of the Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) justDrive app, and how it evolves over time. I think we are still learning a lot about how people interact with systems in their car. The more data we have, the better we can make the experience. Next, I am excited for new customers and new partners coming up in the next year. I’m hoping our next big launch will include a deeper integration with the car’s head unit, rather than a separate app that is run through the user’s phone and projected in the car. Also, our cloud-based architecture allows us to add partners and services quickly and easily. I am looking forward to adding additional providers to our existing Spotify and NPR.