Meet Nina, the vocal virtual assistant that gives voice to mobile customer service apps
Nuance Communications has introduced Nina, a virtual assistant for mobile customer service apps, which allows companies to quickly add speech-based virtual assistant capabilities to their existing iOS and Android mobile apps – greatly enhancing the self-service experience for their customers.
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 not only understands what is said, but also 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.
“USAA’s innovative solutions are designed to make life easier for our highly mobile military service members, and increasingly for all members who now expect to get things done when, where and how they want,” explains Neff Hudson, assistant vice president of emerging channels for USAA. “We believe that the virtual assistant has tremendous potential to make it simpler, faster and more satisfying for our members to manage their financial affairs on their mobile devices.”
Nina is significant because it is the first virtual assistant for mobile customer service apps to incorporate both speech recognition and voice biometrics into a single integrated solution. 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.
“Nina is a watershed innovation for the automated customer service industry, not only because it brings the virtual assistant directly into an app, but because it raises the bar through its level of interactive dialog and language understanding,” adds Robert Weideman, executive vice president and general manager of the Nuance Enterprise Division. “Nina provides our customers a major competitive differentiator by enabling more successful self-service through their mobile apps. We are especially pleased to further our partnership with USAA, a company known for its innovation and approach to delivering a premier mobile customer service experience to its members.”
Meet Nina here
And for those of you who like a bit of tech-speak, the Nina Virtual Assistant for customer service comprises:• 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.
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.