Matthieu Liewig: when the house obeys the voice

Matthieu Liewig imagines a future (not far away) when the house will obey not only our fingers and eyes, but also our voice. The major concern of the research project manager? Making digital services even more accessible and fluid.

The idea with Alice, is to find new forms of human-computer interaction to simplify the use of digital services.

Matthew Liewig began his career within the Group in 2000 as a developer. “At that time, Orange TV did not yet exist and ADSL had just been deployed.  Yet simplifying access, understanding and facilitating use were already for me the central issues in the design of services. “Today he is responsible for a research programme in the field of the smart home (in the broad sense: home automation, multimedia, telephony, etc.), which seeks to gain a better understanding of the context of life of the inhabitants and simplify the use of multiple digital services now available in the house.

New forms of interaction

This will to simplify services is a common thread in the career of the person who participated in the design of the application my Livebox or Business Everywhere solutions. “When I arrived at Orange, I mainly worked on access to Internet services, diagnosing connection problems … It really made me want to develop the simplicity of services offered to customers.

And it is exactly in this context that Matthieu Liewig will embark on the development of Alice, the family assistant prototype based on natural language, allowing the control of connected home devices using our voice. “Today, there are more and more digital services arriving at home”, says Matthieu. “The idea with Alice, is to find new forms of human-computer interaction tailored to the lifestyles of our customers.

Indeed, from the beginning of their research, Matthieu Liewig and his colleagues have seen the value of implementing new interfaces that are more intuitive and accessible to control and communicate with all of our appliances at home. “Human-machine interfaces have continued to evolve, the appearance of the keyboard in the 1960s, voice recognition today, through the invention of the mouse and the touch screen and … new forms of interaction will appear.” Like natural language, it is a highly advanced form of voice interface, able to deduct the train of thought and objectives of a person from a constructed dialogue between the system and the user.

In open mode

Alice is based on one integrative artificial intelligence solution. “Integrative in the sense that it combines multiple bricks of artificial intelligence” explains Matthieu, such as deep learning, based on artificial neural networks, semantic analysis, the logic of dialogue, etc.

The design of such a solution, which uses several emerging disciplines, could only be done in open innovation mode. Matthieu Liewig’s team is involved in VoiceHome, a collaborative project that involves industrial partners (VoiceBox, Delta Dore, eSoftThings, Technicolor to be completed) and academic partners (INRIA, Irisa, LOUSTIC).

Furthermore, the development of Alice has benefited from the UCI approach (User-Centric Innovation). The prototype is now deployed in a dozen homes in Lannion (Brittany) and Paris, from the same families who were interviewed in the first phase of the project. “This iterative and collaborative development mode helps to enrich Alice almost daily, based on consumer feedback” concluded Matthieu Liewig.

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