Frequently asked questions about the Open Voice Network, its progress, and mission.

What is the Open Voice Network?

Voice as a digital interface and platform promises to make digital connections easier and more inclusive worldwide, to create value for businesses and organizations of all types. Unfortunately, the path to that promise is not assured.

The Open Voice Network (OVN) was formed to enable voice assistance to fulfill its promise.

OVN is a collaborative industry initiative that will develop and propose global industry standards for voice assistance. Such standards will make voice assistance worthy of user trust across multiple platforms, devices, and use cases worldwide, and like other standards-development efforts, substantially accelerate the growth of the available market.

Why is this organization important?

Voice assistance has the potential to become a primary touchless way to connect more quickly and easily with the internet, smart homes and factories, and enterprise applications. For consumer-facing industries, voice assistance could improve productivity, profitability, accessibility, and inclusion. But what started as the world’s fastest adopted consumer technology may fall well short of its potential for acceptance and value. Consumers are showing increased hesitation to venture into new usage, and enterprise decision-makers are concerned about issues of data ownership and use. Research points to a “trust gap” that raises critical questions of privacy, ease of use, dependable connection, equal and unbiased access, and data security.

These concerns extend beyond the handful of organizations dominating the voice assistance landscape today. Leading industry analysts predict that as voice assistance grows in availability and adoption, thousands of innovators and Tier 1 businesses will introduce their own independent and branded assistants by 2025. In such an environment, questions of invocation, interoperability, commercial data ownership, and security become paramount.

Why are standards needed in voice assistance?

There is an absence of standards in the world of voice assistance. At present, there is no communally developed, broadly adopted “rule of law” that governs voice assistance. Issues such as privacy, data use, access to third party sites and applications, interoperability and the like are managed at a commercial platform level. As in the earliest days of the internet, this absence of standards leads to concerns and a lack of trust among individual users, enterprise decision-makers, and the developer-designer-strategist community – which, in turn, is now leading to an increasing gap between assistant availability, adoption, and regular use.

Why are standards so important?

We believe that a major part of the solution lies in the communal development of broadly endorsed and implemented standards. In other technological and industrial situations, standards have created component interoperability – enabling the creation of purpose-built solutions, and the growth of firms whose innovation can create a “special sauce” to one or more components. Standards also push investment toward the development of new capabilities and features; they spark the creation of developer tools; and, for enterprise users, they deliver a “build once, use many” efficiency, as the need for proprietary interfaces diminishes.

What will the Open Voice Network do?

  1. Sponsor and lead research that will explore, develop, and propose voice assistance standards.
  2. Sponsor and lead research that will explore, develop, and propose ethical use frameworks and guidelines.
  3. Drive industry awareness of the opportunity, challenges, and value of voice assistance in consumer-facing industries

Who is involved in the Open Voice Network?

All consumer-facing industries are involved: commerce, health & life sciences, financial services, media, manufacturing, transportation, telecommunication, education, and connected government. Individuals at all levels of interest and technical ability are invited to be a part of Communities within the Open Voice Network, from subject matter experts and researchers to voice technicians, CEOs, chief strategists, head marketers, chief information, technology, and digital officers.

How is the Open Voice Network funded?

The Open Voice Network (OVN) is independently funded and governed by a Steering Committee of executives from sponsoring enterprises. The Open Voice Network is a Directed Fund of The Linux Foundation (LF) and benefits from the LF’s breadth and depth of influence within the global technology community, LF management oversight, and shared LF administrative and legal services.

Where is the Open Voice Network?

In 2020-21, OVN will be working with enterprises, voice practitioners, platform providers, and industry associations in North America and the European Union. The OVN has also formed a working collaboration relationship with the China Netcasting Service Association (CNSA), the Beijing-based industry association responsible for voice assistance.

What does Open Voice Network sponsorship require?

  • OVN Platinum sponsors commit to a financial contribution of $100K (USD) each year for three years, as well as participation on the OVN’s governing Steering Committee and operating committees of choice.
  • OVN Gold sponsors commit to a financial contribution of $50K (USD) each year for three years, and participation on operating committees.
  • OVN Advocate sponsors are active members of the voice designer-developer community and commit to a financial contribution of $7.5K each year for three years, and participation on operating committees.
  • Linux Foundation membership is also required.