Nuance introduces Nina, the virtual assistant for mobile customer-service apps

August 7, 2012

(Credit: Nuance Communications)

Nuance Communications, Inc. has introduced Nina, the virtual assistant for mobile customer service apps.

With Nina, companies can now quickly add speech-based virtual assistant capabilities to their existing iOS and Android mobile apps, Nuance said.

In other words, companies can now create custom Siri-like apps.

Nina combines Nuance speech recognition, Text-to-Speech (TTS), voice biometrics, and natural language understanding (NLU) technology hosted in the cloud to deliver an interactive user experience that understands what is said, and can identify who is saying it.

Nuance also announced that USAA, a leading financial services provider that serves members of the U.S. military, veterans and their families, has adopted the virtual assistant for use within its popular mobile app. A pilot is planned for August and the functionality will launch to all USAA members early next year.

Nina is the first virtual assistant customer service app to incorporate both speech recognition and voice biometrics into a single integrated solution, according to Nuance. Nina is also the first solution that provides an open software development kit (SDK) to support the rapid integration of virtual assistant capabilities into existing mobile applications. In addition, Nina is the first to allow organizations to brand their own virtual assistant persona, including the visual appearance and implementation of optional custom TTS voices.

The Nina Virtual Assistant SDK and cloud service is available now from Nuance in US, UK and Australian English, with additional languages to be made available later this year. Nuance provides professional services in support of Nina and virtual assistant implementations.

The Nina Virtual Assistant for customer service is comprised of:

  • Nina Virtual Assistant Persona: Nina is a pre-made virtual assistant persona, which developers can leverage for their app, or use the available source code to quickly create a custom persona, including changing visual persona elements such as being awake, asleep, listening, processing, or answering a request. Nina also includes a range of existing Nuance text-to-speech voices, and Nuance can develop a custom TTS voice for an optional development fee.
  • Nina Virtual Assistant SDK: To enable the rapid integration of virtual assistant capabilities into mobile apps for Apple iOS and Android, the Nina Virtual Assistant SDK has three components:
    • Nina Core APIs — Binary APIs that provide access to the core cloud services, such as speech recognition, text to speech and NLU. This provides the most control and customization possible to the mobile app developer.
    • Nina Virtual Assistant APIs — Source APIs that provide mobile app developers with access to customize the persona, as well as providing control of all modes of input, including speech recognition, text to speech and touch dialogs.
    • Nina Reference Designs — Source code of Nina Virtual Assistant apps and functions, including the Nina Banking Assistant, deliver pre-designed templates and tasks for store location, bill pay, account information and over 200 other banking related queries. Developers will be able to leverage the reference designs to rapidly develop their own virtual assistant capabilities for travel, insurance, retail, government and more.
  • Nina Virtual Assistant Cloud: The power and intelligence of Nina, including Nuance’s industry-leading speech recognition, TTS, NLU, interactive dialog management and voice biometrics services, is delivered through Nuance’s hosted platform, Nuance On Demand.