What is an AI Voice Agent? Learn what is an AI voice agent and how you can get started today.

By Hammad Syed in Agents

April 10, 2024 11 min read
What is an AI Voice Agent?

Conversational Voice AI, trained to speak your business.

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Ever found yourself chatting with Siri or Alexa and wondered how these mystery personas manage to understand and respond to you so naturally? Welcome to the new world. Let’s talk about what is an AI voice agent.

Magic is no longer just a Disney thing. Welcome to the magic of AI voice agents. These AI-powered whizzes are transforming how we interact with devices and services, making everything more conversational and, frankly, a lot more human-like.

So, what is an AI Voice agent?

An AI voice agent is a form of artificial intelligence that uses voice recognition, natural language processing (NLP), and machine learning to simulate human conversation. Imagine a technology that not only hears but understands and responds in human speech, all in real-time.

From your daily interaction with Google Assistant while setting reminders to tackling customer support queries, AI voice agents are everywhere.

What is an AI voice agent vs an AI voice assistant?

Now’s the perfect time to distinguish between what is an ai voice agent and the more commercially known AI voice assistant.

The terms “voice assistant” and “voice agent” often get tossed around interchangeably, but they do have nuances that set them apart, especially in professional settings.

Voice assistants are consumer-oriented, providing support for a wide range of general tasks like playing music or managing smart home devices, and are embedded in personal devices such as smartphones and smart speakers.

Voice agents, however, are more business-focused, specifically designed for professional environments like call centers to handle customer interactions and integrate with business systems. While both utilize similar technologies like natural language processing, voice assistants aim for broad utility and ease of use, whereas voice agents focus on specialized, efficient task execution in a business context.

Let’s understand AI voice assistants a bit

AI voice assistants are so ubiquitous, we use them without much thought. There are about 500 million devices in the world that are loaded with Siri. 98% of smart phone users have said the magic words “Hey, Siri” to either play a song, turn the volume up, create an appointment, or what not.

Then there’s about another 500 million, but we assume much more, that use Google Assistant every month. Around the world, there’s constant interactions with AI voice agents. But this is just the beginning. According to Think With Google, 70% of requests are expressed in natural language. This is from 2017. Surely this has grown even more since then.

Lastly, 41% of the people who own a voice activated device feel like they’re speaking with a friend or a relative. They say “please” and “thank you”. And even “sorry”.

Can you imagine how versatile ai voice agents have to be!? Also, by now we hope to have painted a picture of what is an ai voice agent.

Great, read on!

AI voice agents are a progression of AI voice assistants

With AI growing in leaps and bounds, AI voice agents are now sitting at front desks of large hotels, at your doctor’s office, and even at your local restaurant. When you call any of these places, you would eventually, talk with their personal AI voice agent trained in their business.

Now, close your eyes and imagine a world where AI voice agents speak with each other. You say “Hey, Siri. Book me a table at my favorite restaurant for two at 6PM this Saturday”.

Your voice assistant Siri, calls your favorite restaurant and speaks to the AI voice agent. Mind blown.

Back to earth. Let’s continue to learn about what is an ai voice agent and just how do they work.

How Do AI Voice Agents Work?

These agents start their magic by converting your voice into text using speech recognition technology. This is where advancements in NLP come into play, allowing the system to understand and process human language.

After understanding the context of what you’re asking for, the AI, using generative algorithms, crafts a response that’s converted back to speech through text to speech (TTS) technology—like having a chat with a human, only it’s an AI. And a very convincing one, at that.

And all of this happens in real time. The computing power is insane. Speaking of which, let’s look into the tech.

The Tech Behind the Talk

AI voice agents are built on a stack of sophisticated technologies:

  1. Speech Recognition: Converts spoken language into text.
  2. Natural Language Processing (NLP): Helps the agent understand the intent behind the text.
  3. Machine Learning: Improves the agent’s responses by learning from data.
  4. Text to Speech (TTS): Translates the AI’s textual response back into speech that’s clear and natural-sounding.

Use cases: AI voice agents in the wild

The use cases for AI voice agents are expansive:

  1. Customer Support: They reduce wait times in contact centers by handling routine inquiries, freeing up human agents for more complex issues.
  2. Voice Assistants and Virtual Assistants: Devices like Amazon’s Alexa or Microsoft’s Cortana help users manage tasks, control smart home devices, and more.
  3. IVR Systems: Modern Interactive Voice Response systems use AI voice agents to streamline the caller experience in a contact center, making it more efficient.
  4. Apps and Messaging: Many apps use voice technology to enhance user experience, allowing hands-free operation and accessibility.
  5. Contact Centers: Revolutionizing the traditional IVR (Interactive Voice Response) systems, AI voice agents offer more natural and efficient self-service options for callers.
  6. CRM and Sales: Integrated with CRM systems, these agents can automate tasks like data entry, scheduling, and follow-ups, thereby streamlining sales processes.

The benefits of AI voice agents

The perks of employing AI voice agents are significant:

  1. Efficiency: They automate mundane tasks, allowing businesses to streamline operations and focus on more strategic activities.
  2. Enhanced Customer Experience: They offer quick, conversational assistance, boosting customer satisfaction.
  3. Scalability: AI agents can handle a large volume of queries without the need for breaks or sleep.
  4. Personalization: With AI, experiences can be tailored to individual preferences and history, thanks to integration with CRM and other databases.

The future is automated

As technology advances, so do AI voice agents. The future might see even more seamless integration with various services, smarter conversational capabilities, and broader adoption across sectors. The goal? To make interactions as smooth and natural as chatting with your best friend.

So, next time you say “Hey Siri” or “Ok Google,” remember you’re experiencing a slice of some pretty awesome tech—designed to make your life easier and a bit more futuristic. AI voice agents aren’t just tools; they’re our next step towards smarter, more intuitive technology.

Will AI agents replace human jobs?

The idea of AI voice agents replacing human jobs is a hot topic and can stir up a bit of worry. But let’s unpack it a bit. AI voice agents are definitely getting smarter and more capable, thanks to rapid advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning.

hey’re already taking on tasks like answering basic customer inquiries, booking appointments, or managing simple transactions, which can indeed replace certain routine jobs.

However, it’s not all about job replacement; it’s also about job transformation. Many experts argue that AI can free up human workers to focus on more complex and creative tasks.

For instance, while AI voice agents can handle initial customer service interactions, human agents are still crucial for resolving more complicated issues that require empathy, negotiation, and deeper understanding—skills that AI has yet to master.

Looking ahead, AI is expected to create new job opportunities in tech, data analysis, AI training, and maintenance, among others. A report by the World Economic Forum predicts that by 2025, automation will displace around 85 million jobs but could also create 97 million new jobs in different sectors.

So, the future is less about AI voice agents replacing human jobs outright and more about shifting the types of jobs available and the skills they require.

Examples of AI Voice Agents

  1. PlayAI: PlayAI is the newest player in the AI voice agent space but no stranger to conversational AI. With PlayAI you can easily build your own voice agents for your IVR systems or any use case. See PlayAI and test out a few voice agents.
  2. Siri (Apple): Siri is one of the first mainstream voice assistants integrated into Apple devices, capable of performing tasks like setting reminders, sending messages, and answering questions using natural language processing.
  3. Alexa (Amazon): Amazon’s Alexa is a voice service found in Amazon Echo and other devices. It can play music, provide news, control smart home devices, and more, all through voice commands.
  4. Google Assistant (Google): Available on smartphones and Google Home devices, Google Assistant can conduct internet searches, manage tasks, control devices, and interact in conversational language with users.
  5. Cortana (Microsoft): Initially introduced on Windows devices, Cortana helps with scheduling, reminders, and answering questions, leveraging Bing’s search engine and Microsoft’s suite of productivity tools.
  6. Bixby (Samsung): Samsung’s voice assistant, Bixby, is designed to help manage your device and apps more efficiently through voice, text, and taps, offering a personalized experience.
  7. IBM Watson Assistant: Used by businesses to build conversational interfaces for customer support, e-commerce, and more, Watson Assistant can understand historical chat or call logs, search for answers in your knowledge base, and provide answers to customers in natural language.
  8. Nuance Dragon NaturallySpeaking: This speech recognition software enables users to dictate text, control their computers by voice, and transcribe recorded speech. It’s widely used in professional environments for dictation and transcription.
  9. SoundHound’s Hound: Known for its music recognition capabilities, SoundHound also offers Hound, a voice-enabled digital assistant that provides fast responses to queries in natural language, from weather forecasts to local business searches.

What is AI voice used for?

AI voice is used to automate interactions between humans and machines using natural language, enhancing customer experience through voice assistants, customer support, and self-service options in real-time.

What is an agent in AI?

An agent in AI is a software entity that performs tasks autonomously using artificial intelligence to interpret data, make decisions, and interact with its environment or users to achieve specific goals.

What is an AI personal agent?

An AI personal agent is a virtual assistant powered by AI to help individuals with personal tasks, such as scheduling, reminders, or fetching information, using natural language processing to understand and execute commands.

How do AI-generated vocals work?

AI-generated vocals work by using text-to-speech (TTS) technology and generative algorithms to convert written text into spoken words that mimic human speech, allowing for real-time vocal responses and interactions.

What is an AI Voice Generator?

An AI Voice Generator is a tool that employs text-to-speech technology and machine learning to create artificial speech from text, simulating human-like voice outputs for various use cases.

What is a Voicebot?

A Voicebot is an AI-powered bot that communicates with users through voice commands, utilizing speech recognition and NLP to understand and respond to inquiries in natural language, automating tasks and enhancing customer support.

What is an AI Voice Agent?

A Digital Voice Agent is an AI voice agent that provides automated customer support, information, or services through voice interactions, improving customer experience and streamlining contact center operations.

How can you make an AI voice generator say your own words?

You can make an AI voice generator say your own words by inputting your desired text into the system, which then uses text-to-speech technology to convert the text into spoken audio in real-time.

What are AI voice generators and how do these work?

AI voice generators are tools that convert text to speech using advanced algorithms and machine learning, producing realistic human speech for various applications, from virtual assistants to customer service bots.

What is Conversational AI?

Conversational AI refers to the use of artificial intelligence in creating systems capable of conducting natural conversations with humans, including chatbots, voice assistants, and other messaging apps, to automate and personalize user experiences.

What is the difference between an AI voice agent and a chatbot?

The difference lies in their mode of interaction: an AI voice agent interacts with users through spoken language using speech recognition, while a chatbot communicates via text messages in messaging apps or websites.

How does an AI voice agent differ from a traditional IVR system?

An AI voice agent differs from traditional IVR systems by using natural language processing to understand and respond to callers in a more human-like manner, reducing wait times and improving self-service options.

What capabilities does an AI voice assistant have?

An AI voice assistant, like Siri or Alexa, has capabilities ranging from understanding and executing voice commands in natural language, providing real-time information, controlling smart devices, to automating routine tasks, all aimed at enhancing user experience.

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Hammad Syed

Hammad Syed

Hammad Syed holds a Bachelor of Engineering - BE, Electrical, Electronics and Communications and is one of the leading voices in the AI voice revolution. He is the co-founder and CEO of PlayHT, now known as PlayAI.

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