Customers of Auckland's Co-op Taxi will never have to speak to a human again - not once Co-op's new speech recognition system is installed.
Co-op already uses caller ID to provide automatic bookings and is now to go one better by signing up to use the VeCab reservation system developed by Australian-based natural language speech recognition specialist VeCommerce.
VeCommerce says its application will allow customers to speak directly to Co-op's taxi dispatch computer. Co-op expects the system to reduce call handling costs, simplify rostering and help it handle busy periods more effectively.
VeCab should be introduced here by the end of the month. The benefits of the system are likely to be extend to other New Zealand centres through Co-op's role as a bureau provider to other taxi companies.
VeCab went live in Australia in February this year, through a deal with Regent taxis. VeCommerce managing director Paul Magee says taxi patrons have responded "very positively" to the new system, "with many users preferring to use the automated system rather than speaking to a live agent."
The speech recognition component of VeCab is licensed from the US company Nuance Communications and Magee says it "has been acknowledged as one of the most advanced natural language speech recognition booking applications in the world; with an accuracy rate of over 95%."
If it just makes the next taxi arrive sooner, we suspect that's the kind of detail the customers won't care too much about.