Picovoice Unveils New Voice-Controlled Elevator and Intercom System

Voice technology startup Picovoice has announced a way to integrate its voice control systems into elevators, intercoms, and other devices. The hands-free interactions are designed to be both easier and more hygienic in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. You can see a demo of the project up top.

Speaking Buildings

The system would work much like a smart speaker or another voice-enabled device, combining a wake word and a command. The person might say, “Elevator, take me to the fifth floor,” or “Intercom, call apartment 3G,” and the elevator or intercom would comply. Users wouldn’t need to try and press a button with their hands full, or strain to reach a high-up button if they are in a wheelchair. The biggest potential draw right now, though, is that there’s no concern about touching a surface that may have the novel coronavirus on it.

“We’ve been weighing benefits of voice-controlled, contactless interfaces for a while and have been looking more closely at applications in public places,” Picovoice vice president of business development Mehrdad Majzoobi told Voicebot in an interview. “We’ve had conversations with building managers and manufacturers of intercoms and ATMs in recent months. It’s an even more important now to have where there’s a chance of hygienic issues when people are adopting different ways of interacting, especially in public.”

Picovoice’s software is designed to handle noisy environments and a variety of accents in English. So, while public spaces can be confusing for a voice AI, it shouldn’t impede using the voice controls for an elevator, Majzoobi explained.

“The chance of false activation is very low, but even if it happens it’s just like pressing the wrong button,” Majzoobi said. “It’s not a big problem.”

Edge Commands

Like all of Picovoice’s technology, the entire process would take place on the edge, that is, within the hardware. There’s no need to send information to the cloud. That both protects the privacy of users and makes the system relatively cheap in power to operate. Though the extension of Picovoice’s creations is new, the underlying concept is no different than what Picovoice already sells.

“We had to figure out the hardware side but its the same code and same software from the browser version,” Majzoobi said. “It will be an add-on for elevators and need minimal installation and we are pursuing direct installation with property managers.”


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