Nao gets more conversational with technology from Nuance

Aldebaran Robotics and Nuance Communications reported this week that Aldebaran’s Nao robot will integrate new voice capabilities from Nuance that will allow it to have more natural conversations with humans.

Massachusetts-based Nuance sells the popular Dragon speech recognition software and was recently revealed to be behind Apple’s Siri digital assistant.

Nao has integrated voice recognition technology from Nuance since 2011, but now it will utilize cloud-based voice recognition and expressive text-to-speech through Nuance’s NDEV developer program. The companies say the new technology will allow people to have “truly natural conversations with the robot” in nineteen different languages.

“Developing natural, conversational interactions with humanoid robots is a challenging and pioneering area of robotics. Our robots have to express and understand emotions and for this, there needs to be expression in their voice that speaks to their personality, and matches their body language,” Bruno Maisonnier, CEO of Aldebaran Robotics, said at a recent Nuance event. “Nuance and Aldebaran have combined our voice and robotics innovations to showcase what’s possible for human-robot communication. Our vision is to create even more intuitive and human-like interactions between man and machine as part of the Nao experience, in turn creating a wealth of new application opportunities for Nao and the next generation of robotic companions.”

Nao robots will use a custom text-to-speech voice that was specifically developed for the robot. Robots featuring Nuance’s Natural Language Understanding and text-to-speech will ship in early 2014.

You can see a video of Nao in action below:

[ photo courtesy of Ed Alcock / Aldebaran Robotics ]

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