Setting the Standard – Jon Stine, Open Voice Network – Voice Tech Podcast ep.064

Jon Stine Open Voice Network

Episode description

Jon is the leader of the Open Voice Network, an organization that seeks to create a future of AI voice that is standards-based, interoperable, accessible, and data protected. While the voice movement is growing rapidly, it is still very much in a fledgling state. This makes the task of setting up governance and standards in the space highly relevant, and one which Jon is working hard to address.

In today’s episode, we talk about why we need a network like OVN at all, and what happens if we don’t create such an organization. Jon explains why he is focusing on shopping and retail in particular. He dives into how this category of the market presents a research case that raises many of the relevant issues arising by the introduction of voice technology into a particular field.

We cover conflicts of interest and groupthink too; between users, developers, enterprises, platform companies, and thought leaders, there are clearly many voices with different vested interests in what the standards look like and who they benefit. We hear about the five main areas which the research at OVN will focus on.

Our conversation also covers some of the ethical issues raised by just how much data can be captured in a moment in which a customer’s voice gets recorded, and how standardization can address the responsibility this places the company which hears it in. In the bonus questions for Pro listeners, Jon reflects on his storied career in technology, and what led him to launch the Open Voice Network.

Voice will no doubt revolutionize the future of how we interact with tech, and standardization is at the center of this process, so tune in to hear exactly why that is.


  • How voice is in its early, ‘Wild West’ stages of lawlessness thus requires standards.
  • The value of voice standards as far as UI, time to market, and development processes.
  • Interested parties at the forefront of standard-setting: devs, big tech, and platform creators.
  • The egalitarian importance of all interested parties collaborating in setting voice standards.
  • Who suffers if big tech is left to set standards: consumer-facing enterprises and users.
  • Resolving issues such as data use and interoperability before the government steps in.
  • Why Jon works with retailers before other relevant areas in health, media, and more.
  • Voice issues raised in the retail space such as consumer data, and the lack of a voice DNS.
  • Technologies which will change the relationship between consumers and brands.
  • How Jon got to research voice, interface with retailers, and decide to work on standardization.
  • Five areas for the development of standards: a DNS for voice, multi-platform regulation, common purchase processes, consumer trust, and interoperability.
  • The idea that consumers trusting voice processes will be what drives the movement forward.
  • How the standardization ideas at OVN protect users but might not be in big tech’s interest.
  • The trio of users, platforms, and importantly, enterprises to drive the voice movement.
  • OVN’s steering committee, which thinks about the ‘how-to’ of achieving their vision.
  • Distributions of labor at the steering committee: sponsors, volunteers, partner companies.
  • Interested parties in OVN’s project: enterprises, platform companies, developers, thought leaders, and branding agencies.
  • How enterprises haven’t caught onto how much voice will change consumer behavior.
  • Concerns over allowing diverse voices to speak at the table once it gets bigger.
  • Attorneys, businesspeople, ethicists and other parties responsible to protect voice privacy.
  • Levels of biometric data possible to capture through voice and ethical issues they raise.
  • Jon’s background at Intel and in retail asking how tech and humans will change each other.
  • The value of persistence and value propositioning for people interested in Jon’s career path.
  • How Jon keeps motivated by reminding himself about the value of voice technology.

Quotes from the show

[03:17] We’re kind of in those Netscape early days of proprietary platforms

[07:40] The question is, will the technology benefit all or will it only benefit some?

[29:15] We are NOT in the business of being a standards organization

[32:51] This is not a toy. This is not something cute in the kitchen.

Links from the show

About the author

Carl Robinson
Carl Robinson

Carl is the host of the Voice Tech Podcast. Since launching in April 2018, Carl has conducted scores of in-depth interviews with voice industry experts, building one of the most well known media brands in the voice AI space.

He also publishes Voice Chops Tuesday, the number 1 voice technology newsletter, enjoyed by thousands of voice tech fans each week.

Carl is a startup founder, product manager and data scientist, and recently presented a model for voice emotion conversion at ICASSP 2019.

To contact Carl, use the links in this box to send an email, tweet or message.

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