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Hello, Nina: Nuance launches latest Siri-like voice assistant platform

The mobile personal assistant family tree continues to grow with Nuance Communications' new mobile customer service app, dubbed Nina.

Nina is an add-on to existing iOS and Android apps that provide companies a speech-based virtual assistant, which combines speech recognition, text-to-speech (TTS), voice biometrics, and Natural Language Understanding technology.

Nuance said Nina is the first virtual assistant app to incorporate speech recognition and voice biometrics. Nina can not only understand what is being said, but can also identify who is saying it, a Nuance press release said.

Robert Weidman, general manager of Nuance's enterprise division, touted Nina's level of interactive dialogue and language understanding, something with which Apple's Siri has struggled. Nuance said Nina also allows for personalisation, including her visual appearance and the addition of optional custom TTS voices.

Nuance said that the USAA, a US military financial service provider, has adopted Nina for use in its mobile app. USAA will begin with a pilot programme this month and officially launch the app to USAA members early next year.

Nina is the first mobile assistant to provide an open software development kit (SDK), Nuance said, allowing rapid integration of the programme into existing apps.

"Nina provides our customers a major competitive differentiator by enabling more successful self-service through their mobile apps," Weidman said.

All of the app's power is delivered through Nuance's cloud platform, Nuance On Demand.

Last month, the organisation behind Apple's Siri rolled out another four-letter virtual assistant, this time for use with bank tellers. SRI International's Lola can carry on complex conversations and perform tasks with customers, including opening a bank account.

Newcomer Nina is available now in English, with more languages on their way later this year.