Avaya And University Of Colorado Announce Joint Research For Natural Language Speech Recognition Technology

August 6, 2001

Avaya and University of Colorado Announce Joint Research for Natural Language Speech Recognition Technology

Avaya’s Grant will Drive New Communication Innovations within Enterprises and Educational Institutions

Boulder, Colo. -- Avaya Inc. (NYSE: AV), a global leader in corporate networking solutions and services, and the University of Colorado at Boulder today announced a joint research initiative to speed development of natural language speech recognition technology for self-paced training programs and other business applications. To fund this research, Avaya has donated $250,000 to the University’s Center for Spoken Language Research (CSLR) and Alliance for Technology, Learning, and Society (ATLAS) initiative. The two university entities will work with local Avaya research and development experts in developing and testing new speech recognition technologies.

The joint project will create a new generation of voice recognition tools that intelligently engage users with greater levels of verbal and visual perception. Avaya will work with CSLR to integrate the newly developed technology into its Customer Relationship Management solutions, creating a highly personalized and responsive customer experience. CU-Boulder students enrolled in the ATLAS Technology, Arts and Media program will assist in developing test strategies for the interactive training tools. In addition, CSLR will use a portion of the donation to create a toolkit that simplifies speech recognition application development and integration, making it easier to deploy and maintain speech-enabled CRM solutions within an enterprise environment.

CSLR researchers, who include faculty from the fields of computer science, psychology and cognitive science, already have developed virtual tutors that incorporate facial animation, speech recognition and speech synthesis systems into a single software package. Under the leadership of Director Ron Cole, the center has received more than $5 million in grants from the National Science Foundation over the last three years for projects helping children with hearing impairments and reading disabilities.

The Avaya grant will support research and development of future communication systems that allow the caller to take control of the conversation rather than simply responding to prompts produced by the computer. "The result is a much more natural and graceful interaction," said Cole. "By developing more natural and graceful conversational interfaces through basic research, and testing these systems with Avaya's help, we should be able to develop systems in the next few years that provide a more satisfying experience to Avaya's customers."

"Avaya’s support increases CSLR’s momentum to create natural language speech recognition technology that is useful for the enterprise’s most critical communication—communication with the customer," said Ravi Sethi, president of Avaya Labs. "Avaya’s direction will help the speech technology bring value, efficiency and a greater overall experience to our customer interaction solutions."

Avaya’s CRM solutions utilize interactive voice response systems to help businesses automate many common enterprise interactions including fulfillment and e-commerce. Intelligent agents facilitate these interactions by mimicking the actions of a real person and behaving according to specific responses. The research project will expand the intelligent agent’s ability to interact with customers by developing natural language speech recognition that accurately detects auditory expressions and visual gestures in conversational interactions.

The goal of CSLR’s application toolkit development is to create new ways to make natural language speech recognition applications easier to write and easier to install, cutting development and integration costs for enterprises. Research and development experts from Avaya’s Westminster, Colorado-based facility will assist in the project’s completion by working with the ATLAS program to test and evaluate tools that are developed. Researchers from the Department of Communication, the Department of Theatre and Dance, and the ATLAS evaluation research group also will investigate the social implications of interactive training tools.

"This grant gives us a unique opportunity to collaborate with high-tech industry," said Robert Schnabel of ATLAS. "Our students and faculty will have the opportunity to work on speech recognition innovations that create more advanced interaction abilities and help companies better connect with their customers."

About Avaya

Avaya, headquartered in Basking Ridge, N.J., is a leading global provider of communications solutions and services that help businesses, government agencies and other institutions — including more than 75 percent of the Fortune 500 — excel in the customer economy. Avaya offers Customer Relationship Management Solutions, Unified Communication Solutions, Hosted Solutions, MultiService Networking Infrastructure, and Converged Voice and Data Networks — including the company's no-compromise Enterprise-Class IP Solutions (ECLIPS) — all supported by Avaya Services and Avaya Labs. Avaya is the worldwide leader in unified messaging, messaging systems, call centers and structured cabling systems. It is the U.S. leader in voice communications systems and services. For more information about Avaya, visit its web site at http://www.avaya.com.

About the Center for Spoken Language Research (CSLR)

The Center for Spoken Language Research is focused on research and education in areas of human language technology. Established in 1998 at the University of Colorado, center researchers strive to make the world a better place by inventing new technologies that will enable all people access to information and new opportunities for life long learning. For more information about the center, visit http://cslr.colorado.edu. The center is a division of the Institute of Cognitive Science and is affiliated with the Department of Computer Science.

About ATLAS

The Alliance for Technology, Learning, and Society (ATLAS) is CU-Boulder's principal campus-wide academic initiative and focuses on integrating information and communication technology into its curriculum, teaching, research and K-12 outreach activities. ATLAS is changing the campus learning culture by enabling all students, even those in traditionally non-technical fields, to experience first-hand the role the information technology plays and can play in their disciplines. One of ATLAS’ main programs is the undergraduate certificate in Technology, Arts and Media, which is open to students across the entire CU-Boulder campus. For more information, visit http://www.colorado.edu/ATLAS.

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