Siri, meet Nina

Nuance announces Nina virtual speech assistant; USAA to add Nina to its self-service app

Nuance Communications has introduced Nina, a virtual speech assistant that companies can add to iOS and Android mobile apps.

Nina combines Nuance speech recognition technology, text-to-speech software, voice biometrics and other software into a single offering that's hosted on cloud servers.

The technology is designed to understand what a user says, and to identify who is saying it, Nuance said.

USAA, a provider of financial services for member of the U.S. military,said in a statement that it plans to use the Nina virtual assistant with its USAA mobile app. A pilot of the of the combined app will begin this month and a full launch early is slated for 2013, USAA said.

Nina will allow organizations to brand their own virtual assistant with custom text-to-speech voices, Nuance said in a statement.

Neff Hudson, assistant vice president of emerging channels at USAA, said the Nina software will let let military service members more quickly complete the tasks on the USAA self-service app.

The Nina offering includes an open software developer kit (SDK) designed to help developers integrate virtual assistants into existing mobile apps, Nuance explained.

The SDK and the Nuance hosted cloud service are initially available in English, and will be available in other languages later this year.

Nuance posted a YouTube video about Nina, but didn't disclose pricing for the SDK or the cloud service.

The video shows a user verbally requesting checkbook balance, then authorizing payments for bills. A machine voice responds to say that the payment request has been submitted.

The technology competes with Apple's popular Siri voice assistant system.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

Read more about emerging technologies in Computerworld's Emerging Technologies Topic Center.

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