"This is your voice assistant speaking!"
In the BSI Lab, we constantly check technical and business trends that could influence our future work. Our colleagues Patrick Bänziger and Christoph Bräunlich have tested two language assistants and examined how they could support insurance customers and consultants in their daily work.
People in science fiction films have long since portrayed a future with machines that interact with spoken language. This future became reality in 2011 when Apple successfully launched the first voice assistant to the general public with Siri. Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa have since joined Siri as voice assistants for various platforms and device types. Users interact with natural speech and also receive a spoken answer in reply. Depending on the device, the answer can also be visually enhanced.
The strengths of voice assistants is that they can be operated hands-free. Whether someone asks about a recipe in the kitchen or asks for another playlist while watching sports, a conversation is initiated with most assistants by speaking a keyword such as “Alexa,” “Siri” or “OK Google.”
Practical support for customers and reps
Fascinated by the possibilities and the potential of voice assistants, BSI’s Christoph Bräunlich and Patrick Bänziger built two proof-of-concept extensions for voice assistants in the BSI Lab. The first extension enables users to query their insurance companies via Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant about what other types of insurance they offer, and to calculate the price for customized travel insurance.
“The strength of voice assistants is clear: they are operated hands-free. ”
Patrick Bänziger, Software developer at BSI
The second extension is an ideal companion for an insurance representative. It not only provides information about the schedule, but also provides the rep with essential information about his next customer while he is on the road.
Where is all this heading?
While all this sounds so practical, so wonderful, the question of security and data protection is justified: How is it possible to protect such conversations? Since the assistants from Google and Amazon generally conduct the conversion between voice and text on the provider’s servers, they are in turn privy to the entire conversation.
Both BSI developers summed up: “The assistants are interesting to program, but whether they will become established is difficult to foresee. Sales figures currently indicate great interest among end customers. Certain use cases are certainly better suited for the apps than others and have the potential to boost the self-service rate among our clients, and thereby to assist their end customers in an uncomplicated and charming manner.”