With the SoundWave quickly spreading across the world and many brands already knee-deep in the voice-first era, there are many terms and definitions that have either evolved or are being used interchangeably. Voice only, voice-first, voice user interface, voice assistant, and voice AI are all used in specific contexts and refer to the technology, the strategy, or the end product and user experience. 

Two terms that have very different origins but are now often used almost  interchangeably are voice AI and conversational AI. While conversational AI began as a way to refer to the pop-up bots on customer service websites, its meaning has evolved to describe the most advanced and natural language voice user interfaces available.

As the voice AI industry continues to evolve at a rapid pace and more types of companies are joining the voice-first era everyday, we thought it would be helpful to help everyone understand the origin of some terms and their most common use cases with this helpful voice AI glossary of terms.

Voice AI

When talking about voice AI, we’re discussing the technology, the platform that makes the incredible capabilities of voice assistants possible. How do you use it in a sentence? Example: “SoundHound’s voice AI technology has high accuracy,” or “voice AI is growing in QSRs and retail.” It’s a broad term referring to the technology that powers devices—whether that’s in a TV, a kiosk, a drive-thru, a phone ordering system, or an in-car infotainment system. 

There are many components of voice AI, including 

  • Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR): Software that is able to take audio input and map that input to a word or a language utterance.
  • Natural Language Understanding (NLU):  A combination of components including a comprehensive lexicon, grammar rules, and semantic theory work together to break down sentences and guide comprehension.
  • Text-to-Speech (TTS): Technology that converts text to audio that is spoken by the system.
  • Wake Words or Wake Phrases: The spoken word or phrase that “wakes up” an always listening device.
  • Content Domains: Data sets for content-rich conversational experiences
  • Edge and Cloud Connectivity Options: From embedded-only to cloud-only and hybrid solutions.
  • And more—all working together to create positive experiences for users. 

How is voice AI different from conversational AI? This becomes a little more complicated since the goal of voice AI is to be conversational. Verloop even referred to voice AI as a “conversational AI tool.” 

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