Voice technology has so many applications in the rapidly-changing world that it would come as no surprise for it, given enough time, to change every single industry as we know it. Dr. Teri Fisher is contagiously optimistic about these possibilities, some of which are already starting to take shape today. Known as the “Voice Doctor,” Dr. Fisher is an expert on all things voice technology. He is the creator and host of The Voice Den, an online voice technology reality show that combines his passions for voice technology and education. In this conversation with Jen Du Plessis, he talks about the potential benefits that voice technology, in the form of “smart speakers” and other innovations, can introduce into medicine and patient care. He also shares some insights on how this technology could affect other industries as well. Learn how amazing this technology is and what makes it a compelling force in the upcoming decades.
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The Potential Impact Of Voice Technology On Healthcare And Other Industries With Dr. Teri Fisher
My guest is Dr. Teri Fisher dubbed “The Voice Doctor”. I’m very cognizant of my voice. He’s an award-winning TEDx and keynote performer physician, professor, author, educator and leading authority on all things voice technology. He is the creator and host of The Voice Den, an online voice technology reality show that combines his passions for voice technology and education in a fun, relaxed and entertaining style. He is a sport and exercise physician and clinical assistant professor at the University of British Columbia and the co-author of the great book, Voice Technology In Healthcare: Leveraging Voice To Enhance Patient And Provider Experiences. Teri, welcome to the show. That’s so diverse. I want to attack almost everything in your bio, but we’re so happy to have you here with us.
Thank you so much for having me. It’s a real pleasure. I get to talk about voice technology and that’s part of my day. I love it.
One of the things that we want to share with everyone too is that we met through Clubhouse. I think that’s important because this has become a new voice technology for all of us where we finally don’t have to be on Zoom and look great every single day and still be able to network. I absolutely love it. I know Grant Cardone was on Clubhouse not too long ago. He was taking a shower while he was on the Clubhouse and telling everybody about it. I do like that because we’re here in COVID over the last 2020 and just the constant sitting. You being a sport and exercise position, you understand the constant sitting. I have a standing desk so I’m sitting in standing during the day. If I could just walk around while I’m on calls, I would get all my steps in and that’s the exciting part about it.
I’ve made a real big shift in my business lately to have 1 or 2 days a week where I’m sitting and standing in my office. I’m sitting and standing in Zoom. The rest of the days, I’m not in front of my computer or in front of Zoom because I need to get moving. Especially the older I get and now I’m old, it’s important to move. It was so good to meet you on Clubhouse. I want to start with a couple of things. I will talk about your story. You are a physician. I don’t know if you’re still active so you’re going to tell us about that. Let’s go way back and talk about what your childhood looked like. What caused you to want to be a physician? Tell us a little bit about that journey that you had as being a doctor and how it transformed into where you’re at now?
I come from a family of four boys. It was a busy, busy house. We all had lots of interests. I was active in a lot of things as a lot of kids are, sports, music was very big in our family. My mom is a professionally trained opera singer and music therapist. She wanted us to all take music lessons and that started my interest in sound audio as well in performing. That was part of my after-school activities. That was a regular part of my life. At the same time, I was also finding that I was interested in Science and techy things. I was this kid that would love to play with all the latest gadgets.
As I got older and I learned more about the sciences, I found that I had this passion to learn about the human body. It led to learning more about it and to medical school. One of the things I’ve always been interested in though is the mechanics of how the body works. That led me down the path of doing some specialized training in sports medicine. At the same time, I’ve always been very interested in technology and also sound, audio and music. I also was discovering that I had these entrepreneurial tendencies. I also liked educating. Before medical school, I did an education degree as well. What I started to realize, this is now maybe a few years ago, was that there was a way that I could combine these passions for tech, science, education, performance, sound, audio.
That led me to start to explore what was happening in the technology space specifically with voice and smart speakers. The more I learned about it, the more I became fascinated with the area and how I believe it’s going to kind of revolutionize the way that we interface with computers in the next years to decade. What I discovered was that as I started to create some resources, and my first thing was sort of a blog about voice technology, it got a lot of interest. As I was developing those sorts of resources, it was a nice creative outlet for what I was doing in my day job as a physician. I still do practice as a physician. I found that it made me a better physician because I was able to have this creative outlet and go back and with new ideas and that fresh outlook at it.It’s important to understand why voice technology is compelling right now and what it can do for us. Click To Tweet
It gave you a booster shot.
That’s a good way of putting it. That’s how I’ve come into the space that I am in now.
Tell us how the combination of patient care and health has this voice technology in it. What are you seeing in that space? I’m thinking about when I’ve gotten to my doctor, I don’t see them dictating at anything. I don’t see them using any technologies. Tell me what your vision is for where that’s going to help patients and doctors.
It’s coming. You will see physicians using it. Maybe the best way to paint the vision is to give you a little bit of a scenario here. This is a little bit of a future looking scenario, but it’s not that future looking. A lot of what I’m going to describe to you here is coming very quickly. If not, some of these elements are possible already. Imagine you wake up in the morning and you’re not feeling well. You think, “Maybe I have COVID.” You have your smart speaker. We won’t say the name. We’ll call her Amazon Lexi so that she doesn’t respond. You have your smart speaker and maybe you cough so already there’s research being done that can analyze the sounds of your voice to help to detect diseases.
I am aware of that because there is a little dictating machine that a friend of mine has, who works in the mind space. They asked us to say who your name was or what your sentence was, I don’t know, whatever it was. It downloaded and sent me a report on my levels of whatever it said. It looks like you have lowered Vitamin D. It sent me the complimentary music for me to listen to so that it would calm down those cells.
When you think of that on one level, it is crazy stuff that sounds to me like that’s what an application of music therapy. We know that when you listen to certain types of music, for example, it can adjust your heart rate and let you into that tempo of the music. That’s sort of along the same lines. You had talked to this device and the device would listen to you speak. Just to give you another example of that, there’s actually a study that’s been done by the Mayo Clinic that looked at the way people speak. It’s correlated to the risk of them having coronary artery disease just from the way they speak. You have this dialogue with your voice assistant and let’s say it asks you some questions and it thinks, “Maybe you have strep throat in this case.”
What it would do then it would automatically organize to have a test sent to your home. If this were part of Amazon ecosystem, and I think Amazon is building towards this. Maybe it’s even sent by a drone. The device, again, the smart speaker tells you how to do the test. It tells you the results. Maybe it orders antibiotics for you. It has those sent to your home. It walks you through how to take them, reminds you and make sure that you’re getting better. The whole thing is done through an interaction with a smart speaker.
There’ll be preventive measures for someone who has addictions that it senses that you have way too much in your system. I’m not going to subscribe something to you.
That’s interesting too. One of the powerful things about voice and one of the things that is going to make voice so compelling for the next couple of years or decade is the contextual part of voice and that you can hear emotion invoice. I’ll often give the example, I have a son and when he comes home from school, I could ask him like, “How was school?” He might say, “It was great” or he might say, “It was great.” It’s the same words, but it’s got a completely different meaning. If we can detect that as human beings, the artificial intelligence smart speakers can start to detect that. They can start to alert you like, you’re becoming depressed.
Especially in COVID, they came out with a big report about teenagers. A full analysis over 2020 about what’s happening with teens. If it can detect that you got bullied at school or something’s going wrong, we could save lives.
It’s amazing. You can use that technology. Based on the sentiment analysis, analyzing is this person happy, sad, etc., you can start to predict behaviors, like, “Is this person at risk for suicide?” There are so many applications there. There are also business applications of that. Imagine you’re negotiating a deal with someone on the phone and you’re using sentiment analysis to get a sense of how they’re feeling about the negotiations at that time. There’s a lot of business aspects of it.
What if I’m on the losing end of that? They’re doing that to me, but I’m not doing it to them.
There are ethical questions about that. Is that ethical practice? That’s one little part of voice technology.
I know you’re the creator of The Voice Den. Tell us a little bit about this online voice technology reality show. There’s so many little dynamics to this. It’s online. It’s voice technology reality show that combines the passion of voice and education. There’s a lot of components to this. Tell us about this so that if someone wants to go participate, they could.
This has become one of my big focuses because the show has gained a lot of attraction. I’m very fortunate and very humbled to say that the show is actually now being sponsored by both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. It’s wonderful to have their support. I started this in 2020 when COVID first hit. I started to think of how I could continue my interest in education and passion in performing and talk about voice. There were a lot of Zoom webinars popping up all over the place. What I missed was going to conferences and not so much sitting in the sessions, but those things and those interactions that happen afterwards, when you go out for dinner together or you go out for drinks.
I wanted to see if I could recreate that atmosphere. That’s what The Voice Den is based on. Some people called it the Happy Hour Voice now. We invite the community together. We’ll invite five of the influencers in the voice space. We call them the voicefluencers. There are no lectures. There’s no planned content. We invite people from the community to come on screen. We create that feeling of sitting across from these people in a restaurant. They get to have a free conversation.The best way to paint the vision is to give a little scenario - visualization is important. Click To Tweet
A little bit of networking, having some conversations.
I first described it almost like Shark Tank, but voice technology because you bring on these experts. People that maybe others wouldn’t have an opportunity to talk to these people, but they get you to just ask some tips, tricks, what are they working on, get some advice. We add a gamification level to it as well, which is fun as well. I try to keep things in a very light jovial atmosphere. We get lots of like good-natured heckling going on during the event as well. It’s been very successful.
That sounds like a lot of fun. How do we find out about that, by the way?
You can just go to TheVoiceDen.com.
That’s where you can become a member and look into things?
I brought that over to Clubhouse. We were talking about Clubhouse. We’ll typically have like an after party after The Voice Den online event. We’ll go to Clubhouse.
I didn’t think about that as a tool because I had a two-day virtual workshop. Afterwards we had a VIP cocktail party. As a VIP, I sent them wine glasses and I said, you can fill it with milk, but fill it with whatever. It’s called Cracking The Top Producer Code. I had the little logo on everything. We had a little VIP party. We sent everybody else away. We removed them from the webinar called Zoominar. We had a little cocktail party, but how cool would it be if everybody’s involved in Clubhouse, to be able to move everybody to Clubhouse have more people come in?
Let’s talk about the revolution of what’s going to be happening with voice. What other things are going to be coming up because we had an apparatus, like a big Humvee land on Mars. I had the beautiful opportunity and a mastermind that I’m part of do secret knock too. We had one of the astronauts on our mastermind. He was telling about all things that are happening that we didn’t even know. I imagine there are some things that you know being in this space that we have no idea. What is coming? I feel like there’s a big tsunami coming of technology.
That’s a good way of describing it. I’d agree with that. It’s important for maybe the readers to understand why voice is so compelling right now. When you look back in history, we see that about every ten years. Approximately every decade, there’s a big paradigm shift in the way people interact with technology. I’ll date myself here a little bit, but if I go back a number of decades, I remember coming home from school and my parents had bought our first personal computer. It was a Tandy Computer from Radio Shack. It had those 5.25-inch floppy disks. We had to put it in the drive and the load the computer up.
There was no graphics. It was typing prompts. We used a keyboard. About ten years later, Microsoft came out with Windows. I remember that. It was like a magical device. You now have a mouse and you can click things and move things around on the screen. About ten years later, that’s when the iPhone came out, and that was truly like magical. Now you can have the computer in your hand and pinch, type and zoom. The thing is all three of those, they all require some type of hardware in your hand, or you’re holding it a keyboard, a mouse, a touchscreen. Now here we are about a decade later.
Because of the computing power has gotten so fast, these technologies like artificial intelligence, natural language, understanding natural language processing, for the first time we’re able to interact with the computer just through our voice. What that means is we no longer have to like learn these skills of typing, clicking, Zooming and things to talk to a computer. The computers are adapting to us, our most natural way of communicating, which is a completely different way of looking at it. When you think about that, there’s five main reasons also that voice is going to be so compelling. I’ve broken them down based on the letters V-O-I-C-E. VOICE is Versatile, what that means is we can multitask when we’re having a conversation. The best example is you can drive and talk, but you shouldn’t be texting and driving.
That’s one thing about VOICE. O stands for omnipresent, meaning like it’s sound and it’s all around you. Someone could call my name from behind me and I’d be aware of that, but that same experience wouldn’t be possible if I’m looking at a screen. That’s the power of sound. I, stands for innate, when we’re born as babies, the first thing that we do is we cry. Our voice it’s instinctual. Kids are growing up being able to actually talk to computers now because they don’t have to learn how to read or write to talk to a computer. They can just do it, so it’s innate. C, is contextual, I talk a little about that already, that you can hear emotion and voice. When you get an email, sometimes you don’t know if somebody is being sarcastic.
I got one. I looked at what I text and went. I don’t know what it meant so I immediately got it on the phone and said, “What’d you mean?”
That’s a perfect example of that. The last is one is E, efficient, the average person types about 40 words per minute, when you speak the average person speaks about 150 words per minute. It’s 3 to 4 times faster. When you take all those reasons together, and the fact that we are at the stage now where the technology has evolved. I loved your phrase, “We’re about to see a tsunami of voice tech stuff coming at us from all directions,” because it makes so much sense.
It’s not just the voice technology. I interviewed the former AG of Nevada. You would think, “That’s technical. He’s an attorney. What the heck is going on? He is at the forefront of some technology that has to do with restaurants.” COVID perpetuated this, but restauranteurs won’t have to have the 3,000 square feet or the 1,300 square feet, but they just need 300 square feet where there are robots that are dunking chicken, doing all these things and taking the phone calls through the voice technology. Dunking the chicken and putting it someplace in a box somewhere in Box 5. The person’s coming up and gets a code and opens up Box 5, and they have their item, or the driver comes and gets it and takes it to someone’s house. They’re calling them ghost restaurants and ghost kitchens. It’s like a huge, huge thing that’s happening right now everywhere. The funding for it is ridiculous. It’s growing and growing. The restauranteurs making more money.
That’s a good example of one industry where the technology is having a huge impact. I think voice technology is going to have an impact quite frankly in every single industry. One of the funniest things to do is to sit here, like name an industry and brainstorm about the ways that voice tech is already starting to impact it, or the way it’s going to in the future. I know for real estate, for example, I know that there are people looking at creating experiences where a buyer will walk into a home. There’ll be smart speakers in there. It will basically be an automated tour guide to the home.
Like the realtor saying, “Notice the floors, these are all hardwood floors, please proceed in the dining room.”
It can be triggered by somebody walking in the room by a motion detector. It’s very precise in terms of where the person is in the home or having a voice assistant that tells you things about the listing, but from outside the home or from your own home. Those are just two examples.
Real estate because that was my industry before mortgages specifically. I remember when the technology came out that there was a phone number that was put as a rider on the sign that said, “Call this number and hear a video, or hear a voice message about this home.” How it’s come so far where you had to type in a number and then it would capture you, it was a lead gen. We went to QR codes. Those are huge right now. We’ll see what comes up in the future. What are you doing moving forward so that the readers who are enthralled with this are saying, “I can’t wait. I want to know more?” What is the way the best way we can reach out to you, but also what do you see coming down the pike that you’d like to dangle a little carrot to everybody?
I’ll pose a question. What if there was a way that brands businesses could scale their voice, so that they could have conversations with multiple people in their audience at the same time, but in individual level. That’s where the power of the smart speakers are because somebody could be talking to your brand through a branded experience on an individual level. It’s a way of essentially scaling that interaction with your community. The other thing I’ll mention is that, a lot of brands can answer the question, like what does the brand look like? What does the brand stand for? As we move to this world more and more where it’s going to be based on ambient computing, speakers, and microphones around us, I think brands need to be asking themselves the question, what does your brand sound like?
As you were saying that I was thinking, “What does it do?” It takes a whole bunch of my conversations being recorded to know exactly the vernacular that I use, the voice inflection I use, the words that I use, how I speak. Will it interrupt me because I do that? You and I are kind of like overlapping when we’re talking. We’ll interrupt to make it feel like it’s me because maybe I’m more of an interrupter and someone isn’t or vice versa. It’s interesting to see how that would play out. I think you’d have to be very precise about your brand. People talk about branding all the time and messaging, but it sounds like boy, you’d have to be right on the dot.
It’s very important. For voice tech is to figure out what is the persona of your brand? What type of words do you want to use? If you’re a financial institution, typically speaking, it’s going to be very, I don’t know if formal is the right word, but it’s going to be very structured. This is the amount that you have, this is the transaction. Say you were a brand that was promoting luxury vacations. Do you want to have that type of persona or do you want it to be more like, “Come join us on the beach. We’re going to be hanging out?” It’s a very different vibe and that can come across in the voice and the way it’s designed?
With smart speakers, the way there are apps on a phone, you can design what I noticed skills for Amazon Lexie, we’ll call her, or actions for Google Assistant. That’s what I mean, when you can create branded experiences, you can have these skills designed or you can create them yourself. You create that verbal interaction that a person then will then interact with your brand. You can be creative with it, answer questions, do promotional things through the devices, lots of different things. I’ve seen some big companies do some very interesting things.
That brings up something. For example, I have a British guy on my iPhone. Every time my husband hears it, he’s like, “I can’t believe you had that.” You have that woman on the phone. I tried to do the Australian, but I couldn’t understand him. His accent was too difficult for me. It is funny how he’ll pronounce things different. I have an uncle. His name is Darcy. I call him Uncle Darc. He calls him Uncle Darc. I’m going to call him Uncle Darc, which is funny. Even our last name, he pronounces it differently than we pronounce our last name.
When they first came out and when the GPSs came out, I had said, “I’ve never seen it come to fruition.” I do think that we’re now perhaps past it. Now it would be going backwards. I kept saying to everyone, “I want to invent something where we get to choose the voice.” It’s not just a Brit or a Canadian or American or whatever. It’s not just that, but what if you had Homer Simpson. You’re driving down the road and Homer Simpson’s telling you. He’s going, “Don’t make a U-turn or you had Arnold Schwarzenegger, and you’re using all these crazy voices that are so popular, or Clinton.” You have like the inflection that these people have would be so fun to go on these little trips and be able to pick a different thing, or Demi Moore with her raspy voice telling you to turn. It would be the coolest thing in the world. I still think it’s cool, but I don’t know that anybody’s ever even thought about that technology.
Funny, you mentioned that, is that at least for Amazon, for Lexi, you have the option of enabling Samuel L. Jackson voice. You have the option of setting up the explicit version or not. He can swear off. He can swear at you. That’s one thing it’s a little bit of a novelty, I’d say, but along the lines of what you were saying, there is technology that exists now that can create synthetic voices from voice samples. Meaning, somebody records their voice and it could be anyone of these celebrities and when you type in text, it comes back in their voice. You can do that now.
It’s there, but not for my GPS because I would want to travel with someone that I love. I love their voice. Even with Amazon Lexi, even with her, there’s a lot of YouTube videos out there about the version from Saturday Night Live the version for elderly people, the silver and they give all the different names. I did that not too long ago, I was calling her and I’m like, “It’s broken.” I don’t know what’s going on. I have a friend whose name is Alexis. I kept calling her that. I was like looking, “What’s her name? What’s the one on the phone?” I was stupidly doing it.
They’ve got a lot of spinoffs, like a country version of it that speaks Southern slang. What I love about you is that, if there is a tech company or there’s this company that’s reading, someone who belongs to a company has their own company and they want to be in the forefront of this. They want to hear more about it. They want you to come and speak about technology because it’s something new for them to speak, or they want to connect with you on The Voice Den. What’s the best way for us to connect with you?
I have a lot of stuff going on. My one central hub would be my personal website, DrTeriFisher.com. That same spelling, @DrTeriFisher is my handle on Twitter, Instagram and now Clubhouse as well, where I am quite active. For The Voice Den, if you want to join, there’s a link from that site, DrTeriFisher.com, but also you can simply go to TheVoiceDen.com and that’ll take you directly there. We’d love to have you as part of our audience. I’m always open to chatting about voices. I love it.
I know you do. I picked up on that when we talked from that first time. I want to leave with me asking you this question. Is there anything else you would like to share about what is going on in voice technology?How a simple study observing patients speaking can detect diseases could be a great help in the medical field. Click To Tweet
It’s probably evident from what I’ve been talking about, but if you’re a brand that wants to be on the forefront of what’s happening, take a serious look at what’s happening with voice technology because we’re in the stage now where we were with, let’s say mobile phones several years ago. When mobile first came out, there was this gold rush almost for creating the best apps and also having a real truly mobile experience on a phone and optimizing your business and your brand and the presence for mobile. We’re going to be seeing that here in the next little while. Brands that want to be on the forefront, you need to start thinking about how are you going to optimize your presence for voice, for ambient computing, because that’s the future. If there’s one takeaway message, it’d be think about what your brand sounds like and how best to optimize that experience for your audience.
I love what does your brand sound like? That’ll be something I’m going to be talking to my coaching students because I’m going to be talking about branding. I’m going to say, “I had this conversation.” I’m excited about it, but I want to say thank you so much for joining us. I’m glad that we connected on Clubhouse. I look forward to seeing you in a whole bunch of rooms. We’ll invite each other back and forth like we’ve been doing and pingy each other to come in, to highlight and edify you. I thank you so much for sharing all of this great information.
It’s been a real pleasure getting to know you. Thanks so much for the opportunity. I appreciate you doing great work.
Everyone, thank you so much for joining us and taking time out of your day to tune in to our show. Quick reminder, please sure to give us a great five-star rating and write a review. We are always looking for reviews and five-star ratings.
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- How AI and Voice Technology Will Transform Healthcare | Teri Fisher | TEDxSanJuanIsland
- Voice Technology In Healthcare: Leveraging Voice To Enhance Patient And Provider Experiences
About Dr. Teri Fisher
Dr. Teri Fisher, dubbed “The Voice Doctor,” is a unique blend of award-winning TEDx and keynote performer, physician, podcaster, author, educator, and leading authority on all things voice technology. Teri believes that voice technology is the new operating system and the future of computers and artificial intelligence. Teri, known for his laid-back, friendly, personable, and upbeat style, breaks down the complexities of voice technology into its simple parts and is your guide to navigating the world of voice.
A Voicebot 2020 “Top 17 Influencer in Voice”, Soundhound “Top 40 Voice AI Influencer”, host of the Project Voice 2020 “Flash Briefing of the Year”, a finalist for the 2020 “Voice AI/Commentator of the Year” and 2019 “Commentator of the Year”, Alexa Champion, and Bixby Premier Developer, Teri is a leader in voice technology around the globe.
Teri is the creator and host of The Voice Den, a revolutionary online voice technology reality show that combines his passions for voice technology and education in a fun, relaxed and entertaining style. He is also the founder of the #VOICEismyOS grassroots movement, featuring YOU and your thoughts on VOICE as the next Operating System. He is the founder of the Voice in Canada podcast, blog, and daily flash briefing, the #1 rated Amazon Alexa flash briefing and news skill in Canada.
Teri is a Sport & Exercise Physician and Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of British Columbia (UBC). He is the founder of Voice First Health, the leading podcast at the intersection of voice-first technology and healthcare. Teri is the co-author of the landmark book, “Voice Technology in Healthcare: Leveraging Voice to Enhance Patient and Provider Experiences.”Teri holds a Bachelor of Science from McGill University, and a Bachelor of Education, Master of Science, and Medical Doctor degrees from UBC.
When he’s not conversing with his smart speakers, he can be found playing the drums, trying to keep up with his active wife, and coaching his 2 children on the ice rink or baseball diamond.