Conversational Interaction Conference 2022

I did something last week I hadn’t done for quite some time: I spoke at a conference in front of a live audience.

I started speaking at conferences in 2002 after I had created the SwiXml open source project: Graphical User Interfaces were described in XML documents, parsed at runtime, and rendered into Java objects – Android mobile apps still use this very concept 😉

Fast forward 20 years, last week’s talk was all about Voice User Interfaces. I spoke at the Conversational Interaction Conference in San Jose, California. Hardly worth mentioning a few months ago, but a big deal now because there were 26 months between this conference and the last. Of course, I spoke at virtual events and participated in a couple of podcasts but did not face a live audience for 26 months. So traveling to a “real” conference was a big deal.

A couple of months ago I had submitted a talk proposal (Onward to Conversational Applications) for #CICon2022 and during the last couple of weeks, I had finalized and published the “Sky Scope” Alexa Skill, which merely served the purpose of showing the misery of the current Skill development process. Speaking in front of a live audience again was just like I remembered it and seeing once familiar faces was more than spectacular, even if those may have looked a little older. I think everyone was just a little bit more gracious and warmhearted.

The conference had 10 female and 30 male speakers. Half of the sessions were moderated by females which is not something we talked a lot about at CICon2022 but is still very much worth mentioning.

Too bad you missed it! I cannot and will not try to summarize the conference for you, but its depth and breadth were certainly beyond expectation. Presenters traveled to this conference from France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Israel (this list may be incomplete) and many did so on their own dime. 

Amazon’s Lisa Falkson talked about “Best Practices in Conversational AI”, look her up on LinkedIn. These days, she’s the woman behind everything Alexa/Echo. Jon Stine, Executive Director of the Open Voice Network very forcefully reminded us to not settle but understand the potential of voice, which is not a toy, even though, very many C-Level executives still believe just that.

Marie Meteer moderated many sessions but also talked about how task-oriented Chatbots could be a useful (maybe even accepted) tool. Not only to highlight the breadth of the conference, but I’m also mentioning Achronix’s Tom Spencer, who showed a hardware-based ASR solution that significantly accelerates low latency and reduces the x86 server requirement to a twentieth.

As every year and as it should be, I don’t know if I will discover something worth covering at next year’s CICon, but I’m certain that Bill Meisel will put another outstanding conference together next year.

[Photo Credit: Lisa Falkson]

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