Keeping up with the growing trend of virtual voice assistants for mobile devices, such as Siri and S-Voice, Nuance on Monday released an SDK for Android and iOS that can add voice control to third-party customer service applications.

The voice assistant, dubbed “Nina,” doesn’t only follow its user’s instructions; it also uses voice biometrics to securely identify the person it is listening to. Nina’s ability to be integrated into third-party applications gives it the potential to do things that its competition currently can’t, such as allow its users to pay bills and make bank transfers using their voice.

USAA, for example, plans to deploy the service into its mobile application later this month. “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,” USAA’s assistant vice president of emerging channels Neff Hudson said.

Nuance customers won’t need to use the “Nina” branding, either, so you may see different brands launch voice services that, while powered by the system, use a different name and persona.

The SDK is available to developers in the US, UK and in Australia. Nuance said additional language support will be added later this year.

If you’d like to see an example of what Nina can do, check out the video embedded above.


Nuance Introduces Nina, the Virtual Assistant for Mobile Customer Service Apps

Nina is the First Virtual Assistant to Understand What is Said – And Who is Saying It; First to Provide an Open SDK for Mobile App Developers

Burlington, MA – Nuance Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: NUAN) today introduced Nina, the virtual assistant for mobile customer service apps. With Nina, companies can 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.

Nina is significant because it is the first virtual assistant customer service app 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,” said 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 app to deliver a premier mobile customer service experience to its users.”

The Nina Virtual Assistant for customer service is comprised of:
– 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 change of address. 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: A Nuance hosted service that provides the power and intelligence to Nina, including Nuance’s industry-leading speech recognition, TTS, NLU, interactive dialog management and voice biometrics services.


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. [press_end]