The Bot Colony update shipping today integrates Microsoft’s Cognitive Services speech API. North Side hopes this speech recognition technology will revolutionize the Bot Colony game experience. “Internal tests show that Microsoft speech API performs very accurately out- of- the- gate, without training”- says Eugene Joseph, the Bot Colony game designer and author of the Bot Colony sci-fi novel.
Why does this matter? ”For years, online posts criticized voice recognition as a technology not fit for real applications due to lack of precision. The inability to deal with particular accents, noisy environments, ambiguity as to what words to assign to particular audio inputs – posed a formidable problem for North Side: many players bought its game expecting to talk to robots normally and be understood. Though North Side focuses on natural language understanding ( NLU) technology and is only an integrator of speech recognition, the quality of the overall experience heavily depends on how well speech recognition performs – as many players choose to speak rather than type. Concern about speech recognition negatively impacting the game became so high that the February 21, 2017 update to Bot Colony encourages players to type instead of speaking. The Cognitive Services speech API now enables the kind of immersive game experience we wanted Bot Colony to offer,” says Joseph.
North Side advertises its Bot Colony videogame as ‘the first intelligent conversation game on the planet’. In Bot Colony players use their own words to investigate mysteries, command robots, or get oriented in the game. Bot Colony has some unique features that push NLU boundaries: players command robots to manipulate objects in the 3D environment, to erase the traces of an intrusion or dispose of a bomb – using colloquial English. Players can use words like ‘this’, ‘it, ‘the last one’, ‘the blue one’, ‘the one on the stovetop’, ‘the open one’ , ‘the other one’ to refer to objects.
Bot Colony understands English sufficiently well to enable players to conduct a complex investigation – rewarding them with videos of robot observations that are missing pieces of a puzzle.
North Side uses the same NLU pipeline for both the Bot Colony videogame and to enable conversational access to financial services API’s, such as used in banking, insurance or wealth management.