The best podcasts for voice technology and conversational user interfaces
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by Carl Robinson
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Thanks to the meteoric rise of conversational assistants such as Amazon Alexa, the voice technology industry is going from strength to strength, with more researchers, developers, companies and investors becoming involved in the space. At the same time, podcasting is also experiencing huge growth in popularity, with both consumers and content producers embracing the on-demand format. Being a #voicefirst format, podcasts are the obvious choice for those in the voice industry to both share their ideas, and to keep up with everything that’s going on.
Here I present my pick of the best podcasts that cover voice technology and conversational user interfaces. If you have any podcast recommendations that I’ve missed, let me know in the comments, or on Twitter @VoiceTechCarl !
This is the original granddaddy of voice technology podcasts. Host Bret Kinsella interviews a wide range of high-profile business leaders and technologists from the voice industry, including CEOs, founders, and product designers. Bret has a background in marketing, and his team at Voicebot.ai actually conduct their own market research, the results of which are often presented on the show. Voicebot also has an Alexa skill that you can enable on your Amazon device.
I think Bret’s a great interviewer who really understands the industry and gets the most out of his guests. A new show has been regularly released once a week since July 2017, and episodes usually last around 1 hour. Essential listening.
Next, I’d like to heartily recommend a podcast hosted by a talented fellow called Carl Robinson (i.e. me!). In this podcast I interview people who have actually built voice technology products, such as CTOs, designers and developers, as well as academic researchers and experts in related fields. The show focuses on the voice technology itself, and aims to explain ‘how it works’ as much as ‘what it does’. As such, we delve into all aspects of voice interfaces and their enabling technologies such as NLP, voice synthesis, machine learning and AI, as well as applications of these techniques such as chatbots and social robotics, and related fields such as psychology and emotion.
By listening to this show you will gain a good general understanding of the voice tech ecosystem, and stay up to date on the latest developments. My aim is to make these conversations entertaining, inspirational, and informative, so that they not only give you ideas for new voice applications that you can build, but also introduce you to some of the tools and techniques you’ll need in order to build them.
At the time of writing, I’m releasing one or two episodes a month, with each interview usually lasting around 1 hour. There is also an Alexa skill available, where you can listen to all the episodes of the podcast (just say ‘Alexa, start Voice Tech Podcast’). Get it now!
This is a network of voice related podcasts, run by Bradley Metrock, a powerhouse in the voice space. The flagship show is This Week in Voice, where every week a panel of experts discuss the latest voice industry news. The show is quite industry/market focused, with new sales figures and new product launches from the major voice assistant platforms regularly discussed.
Bradley’s sense of humour and relaxed southern accent always adds some fun to the show. A new episode has been regularly released once a week since July 2017, and episodes usually last between 30 minutes and 1 hour.
Bradley also hosts a number of other, less-frequently-released shows on the network: the Voicefirst roundtable features interviews with high-profile business leaders in voice technology firms; the Alexa podcast features the latest news on Amazon’s voice assistant; and the Voice of Healthcare features interviews with doctors and founders involved in building voice-enabled healthcare applications.
Jovial brit, Kane Simms, is surely the most entertaining host in this list. He recently introduced one of his guests with a modified version of the ‘Prince of Bel-Air’ rap – a brave move that paid off as it was very funny. VUX stands for Voice User eXperience, so this podcast has a strong design focus in its choice of guests and content. It’s great for people who are interested in building their own apps for voice assistant platforms such as Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
If you want to discover the latest voice apps and startups, or develop your skills as a voice app designer, then this is the podcast for you. Kane and co-host Dustin Coates have put out a high quality episode every week since November 2017. Episodes usually last around 1 hour.
Ben Smith hosts a daily podcast helping entrepreneurs to start, build and market a voice technology business. As an early Google and YouTube business executive, who is now the CEO of a consulting firm for startups and Fortune 500 clients. He uses his extensive industry experience to share daily tips, tricks and advice to his fast growing audience. Ben has a facebook group where members can discuss business issues and get his advice. The podcast is also available on Alexa, and is the #1 rated skill in the business/finance category.
Ben has an earnest and intimate style of addressing his audience, so you feel he’s talking directly to you and only you. Very motivating stuff. He has consistently put out an episode every single day for more than 100 days at the time of writing. Each episode is quite short and to the point, usually lasting 5 to 20 minutes, with the occassionaly hour long interview in there. Check it out.
Dr Teri Fisher hosts a podcast focused exclusively on helping Canadians get the most out of Amazon Alexa and the devices it runs on. Teri talks about the latest and greatest Alexa skills to use, keeps you up to date with Alexa news and developments, and conducts interviews with leading founders and technologists working on Alexa apps. Teri is a medical doctor, but the podcast is not dedicated to healthcare or behaviour change, and is suitable for anyone interested in Alexa. Teri also produces an Alexa in Canada flash briefing that you can enable on your Amazon device.
I do like the upbeat tone of this podcast, and Teri’s general enthusiasm for Alexa. Since November 2017, Teri has released a weekly episode that usually lasts between 15 and 20 minutes, but can occasionally go on for up to an hour.
Hosted by Tom Guarriello Ph.D and his co-host, this podcast explores the psychology of human-robot interaction. While not focused solely on voice, it is very relevant, and helps to broaden your perspectives on how voice technology can and will be used in the future. From chatbots and social robotics, to emotions and the psychology of interacting with robots, Tom goes deep on topics with the help of wide range of guests, including high-profile academics and business leaders.
I really like the natural freeform discussion format of this show, which leads to some great insights being shared. Tom and his team put out between one and three episodes a month, each lasting around 1 hour. High quality, mind expanding stuff.
This podcast is only for the hardcore natural language processing (NLP) techies out there. It offers short but highly technical interviews with academics who’ve written NLP papers, who do their best to describe their complex and abstract ideas without the aid of any visuals. This podcast is squarely aimed at the NLP research community, so the audience is extremely niche, but they have a good go at condensing the ideas into a digestible format.
I’m not entirely convinced that podcasting is the best way to explain these complex ideas, but if you want to discover the latest groundbreaking ideas in NLP (the technology at the core of voice interfaces), this podcast may be just what you’re looking for. Since November 2017, episodes have been released roughly once a week, and are usually between 10 and 35 minutes long.
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