Weber State University will host the inaugural Lingofest, a two-day conference bringing together students and professionals working in the growing field of voice-command technology. The conference will kick off at WSU’s Val A. Browning Center Allred Theater Jan. 25 and will continue at the Shepherd Union Wildcat Theater Jan. 26.
Lingofest is hosted by WSU’s College of Engineering, Applied Science & Technology (EAST) and organized by Witlingo, a Virginia-based startup focused on delivering “voice-first products.” Voice-first technology recognizes voice commands and reacts accordingly. Many smartphones are equipped with a digital assistant that responds to verbal commands or questions. With technology such as Google Home, Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana becoming ever more widespread, the range of discussion about how humans use artificial intelligence also has increased.
According to Witlingo’s founder and CEO, Ahmed Bouzid, technology is experiencing a radical shift as the market for voice-activated artificial intelligence grows.
The conference’s aim is to introduce both students and young professionals to the field. Voice technology experts and business leaders from Amazon, Google, Comcast and other organizations will share insights about designing and working with voice-based products and discuss how the technology is changing the way humans interact with the world around them.
“It is time for consumers to become users who not only have a much more discerning understanding of the impact these new technologies have on their lives,” Bouzid said, “but also have a proactive voice in what technologies they want and what problems they want solved.”
David Ferro, dean of WSU EAST, said there is a considerable difference between mass-produced consumer technologies, such as refrigerators and washing machines, and the personalized technologies facilitated by voice-based electronics.
“It’s a whole new ballgame, and we can’t afford to wait for the nature of consumer engagement to change at its own, slow pace,” Ferro said. “Tough questions are emerging, and companies cannot be alone in making decisions that have monumental consequences on how we live our lives as healthy individual humans and robust communities and societies. This is a real opportunity to not only discuss these issues but also to get a real understanding of how to build the skills and create the interactions of humans and technology through voice. We will have some cutting-edge experts on hand who also are looking to hire new talent.”
Instead of the traditional lectures usually offered at conferences, Lingofest’s primary goal is to engage attendees in open dialogue. Sessions will be held roundtable style, with experts and the audience engaging with each other on equal footing with the help of a facilitator. Sessions will be recorded and available free from Witlingo after the conference.
The conference is free to WSU students. Other Utah university students may attend for $20, and registration is $250 for other members of the public. All attendees must register at lingofest2018.com.
For more information about Witlingo, visit witlingo.com.