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Nuance's Nina will provide an off-the-shelf Siri-like speech interface to apps on any platform

Say "Hi" to Nina, the latest virtual-assistant
August 7, 2012

Nuance is offering a simpler way for enterprises, businesses, and application developers to feature speech recognition in their apps. Nuance is the same company behind the Dragon Naturally Speaking line of speech-recognition apps for PCs, and the Dragon Go and Dragon Dictation app for smartphones. With Nina, Nuance offers an SDK and a set of APIs that enable companies to build on the technology.

Through the Nina platform, app developers can now integrate voice-control into their apps meant for business, such as customer service or banking apps, which also includes biometrics and security.

Nina is a cloud-based service that runs off of Nuance’s servers. Featuring a virtual-assistant “persona” that a client can talk to, the service offers the ability to run queries and transactions by talking to the software.

The concept is very much like Apple’s Siri, although Nina is extensible. The service runs off the cloud, so developers can build apps across various platforms, including iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and even basic phone-in services. Nina can be used for bills payment, banking transactions, fund transfers, customer service, and the like.

AllThingsD was able to try a demo of Nina, and says another highlight of the app is its voice-ID biometric technology. Because a person’s speech and voice contains patterns and signatures unique to that individual, Nina can confirm the identity of the caller just through one’s voice.

As such, systems running Nina will not have to require PINs or spoken passwords. Just the mere voice of the caller would be recognized , assuming the voice is already associated with the account. The system can be configured not to receive commands from non-recognized voices.

Nina’s killer application will probably be in the financial services and related industries, where voice-based identity verification can help minimize identity theft and fraud.

Nuance plans to offer Nina to companies that are involved in retail, travel and insurance. Nuance also plans to approach government, with the possibility of Nina being used as a user interface for government transactions.

It seems Nuance went beyond the concept of a speech-powered personal assistant, and actually envisions Nina to improve the user experience for phone-based transactions in business.