Season 1 – Podcast 8: The Future Of Voice With Dr. Catherine Breslin


Welcome to our latest podcast episode where we dive deep into the world of voice technology. In this exciting discussion, our host Ina O’ Murchu sits down with Dr. Catherine Breslin, a distinguished machine learning scientist specialising in speech and language technology. Together, they explore the future of voice technology, its applications, challenges, and ethical considerations. Get ready to be amazed by the possibilities that voice technology brings to the table in this rapidly evolving digital landscape.

Background and Expertise of Dr. Catherine Breslin

Dr. Catherine Breslin’s journey into the realm of voice technology began with her academic background in engineering. With a passion for understanding human speech and enabling machines to do the same, she embarked on a path that led her to work at prestigious companies like Toshiba, Amazon, and Cobalt Speech. Dr. Breslin played a pivotal role in developing Amazon’s renowned voice assistant, Alexa, and currently focuses on building custom voice and language technology.

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Understanding Voice Technology

Components of Voice Technology

1. Speech Recognition: 

Driven by advanced algorithms, speech recognition technology converts spoken words into written text, enabling machines to understand human speech.

2. Language Understanding and Dialogue Technology: 

This facet of voice technology encompasses the interpretation and response generation process, allowing machines to understand user queries and engage in meaningful conversations.

3. Text-to-speech Technology: 

Text-to-speech technology generates lifelike synthetic voices, making it possible for machines to speak and interact with users in a more human-like manner.

Use Cases of Voice Technology

1. Foreign Language Learning: 

Voice technology can provide valuable feedback on pronunciation, helping learners improve their language skills.

2. Audio Search: 

By enabling keyword or phrase search in vast audio datasets, voice technology simplifies the process of finding specific information within spoken content.

3. Call Centre Automation: 

Voice technology automates simple customer queries, freeing up human agents for more complex tasks. It can also monitor conversations for quality assurance purposes.

4. Emotional Expression in Synthetic Voices: 

By enhancing synthetic voices with emotions, voice technology enriches audiobooks, gaming experiences, and other interactive applications.

5. Other Applications: 

Voice technology finds utility in various domains, such as subtitling videos for accessibility, transcribing meetings for better understanding, and more.

The Future of Voice Technology

Advancements in Speech Recognition

Ongoing advancements in speech recognition technology are resulting in improved accuracy and performance, making interactions with voice assistants more seamless and reliable. Challenges persist in dealing with noisy environments and domain-specific contexts, as voice technology aims to excel in diverse real-world scenarios. Voice technology is expanding to support additional languages, unlocking its potential for global adoption and fostering inclusivity.

Conversational Technology and Natural Language Processing

Researchers are actively exploring ways to facilitate longer and more engaging conversations between humans and computers, pushing the boundaries of conversational technology. Competitions like the Alexa Prize provide a platform for innovation, spurring advancements in natural language processing and driving the development of more intelligent voice assistants.

Benefits of Voice Technology for Businesses

Call Centre Optimisation

Voice technology enables call centre automation, automating simple customer queries and freeing up human agents for complex tasks, ultimately improving customer service. The analysis of customer conversations using voice technology provides valuable insights and enables issue detection, leading to enhanced customer satisfaction.

Audio Analysis in Various Business Settings

Voice technology contributes to the accessibility of content by subtitling videos, making them available to individuals with hearing impairments. Meeting transcription using voice technology allows for better understanding and documentation of discussions, facilitating collaboration and knowledge retention.

Ethical Considerations and Challenges

Privacy and Data Security

Voice technology raises concerns regarding the privacy and security of voice recordings and the responsible handling of sensitive data. Adherence to data privacy laws and respect for user rights are of utmost importance when leveraging voice technology for various applications.

Voice Manipulation and Deep Fakes

The emergence of synthetic voices brings forth the potential for voice manipulation and the creation of convincing deep fakes, raising ethical implications and the need for precautions. Ensuring transparency and effectively distinguishing between human and computer interactions becomes crucial in maintaining trust and authenticity.


In this captivating podcast episode, we explored the exciting world of voice technology with Dr. Catherine Breslin. From its fundamental components like speech recognition and text-to-speech technology to its various applications, voice technology continues to revolutionise communication across industries. 

Advancements in speech recognition, conversational technology, and the increasing adoption of voice assistants bring forth tremendous benefits for businesses, including call centre optimisation and enhanced audio analysis. Nevertheless, ethical considerations surrounding privacy, data security, and voice manipulation remain critical as voice technology evolves. 

As we look to the future, voice technology holds immense potential, promising new and innovative ways for humans and machines to interact and communicate in this ever-changing digital landscape.




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