Services Australia’s voice biometrics library passes 1.2 million – Strategy – Security – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

More than 1.2 million people have now enrolled a voiceprint with Services Australia to access government services, new figures released by the agency reveal.
The agency responsible for Centrelink and Child Support said “increasing numbers” of users were enrolling after improvements were made to its voice biometric authentication service.
“As at 19 March 2020, 1.2 million customers have enrolled a voiceprint with Services Australia,” it said in answers to questions on notice from senate estimates.
“Services Australia made it easier for customers to register their voiceprint; this has resulted in customers registering voiceprints in increasing numbers.”
The improvements to the enrolment process occurred during 2018-19 under the telephony optimisation program, according to the agency’s most recent annual report.
But the 1.2 million figure is likely to already be outdated following the influx of welfare recipients in the wake of the coronavirus lockdown measures implemented by the government.
Services Australia was contacted for comment, but declined to provide any further enrolment data.
Voiceprints allow citizens to confirm their identity when on the phone with the Services Australia contact centre by repeating the phrase “in Australia my voice identifies me”.
The opt-in service uses the distinctive features in a person’s voice such as sound, rhythm and pattern to achieve this, ultimately allowing service officers to answer more calls.
The solution also presents service officers with a summary of the customer record as the call is answered, which also goes some way to reducing the call time.
Services Australia has long been plagued by notoriously long average waiting times for Centrelink phone lines, though this improved marginally last financial year.
According to natural language firm Nuance, which provides the voice biometrics solution, the technology can detect when a voice is recorded or live to stop fraud.
“A biometric voiceprint is the strongest level of security available to protect our customers’ information over the phone,” Services Australia said.
Canberra’s other big service agency to use a Nuance voice biometric authentication service, the Australian Taxation Office, has enrolled over 4.2 million voiceprints since 2014 – more than three times that of Services Australia.
This figure has grown by more than 800,000 users since February 2018, when the number of voiceprints sat at 3.4 million, though enrolments have slowed since they peaked in 2016-17.
ATO customers can use their voiceprints to access both the contact centre and mobile app.

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Now is the time for voice skills to shine- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

With the virus living on surfaces, experts expect to see a rise in hands-free, voice-activated tech.
This is a new challenge for brand marketers. If consumers no longer want to swipe, click, type, tap, or touch devices, then visual brand cues become useless. In the sonic branding sector, we’ve known that the sonic message is important to building a brand identity and experience, but now it may be the key to post-pandemic brand survival.
According to an article by Lawrence YongZhang Lin, shared by Susan Westwater of Pragmatic Digital, Chinese tech firms have turned to voice-activated technology to help fight against Covid-19. For all the reasons listed as to why, it’s clearly a cost effective, innovative and safe solution.
Another voice strategist, Kane Simms, co-founder of VUX World, recently asked the community to see if anyone has seen an uptick in skill use – the responses were clear. Yes, Skills are seeing a big rise in use.
Given today’s global threat, it is probable that the rise in the use of hands-free technology, in hospitals and at home, will be favored as it alleviates the fear of spreading germs. For the past few years, the voice tech community predicted an increase in the use of voice-activated technology, and now they predict an acceleration of demand.
As brand teams look for innovative ways to interact with their consumers and re-evaluate media spending, we believe the solution is heard and not seen.

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France launches AI voice assistant to help coronavirus patients – Software- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

French researchers on Monday launched a voice assistant that can help callers suffering from potential coronavirus symptoms and direct them towards emergency services or their doctors using artificial intelligence.
Anybody in France can now ring the “AlloCovid” service developed by French research institute INRIA, the University of Paris and French railway company SNCF, the group said.
On the line, a female voice greets callers with “Bonjour, I’m your virtual AlloCovid assistant … Are you ready to start the questionnaire?”
Callers are asked for their postcode but not their name. Depending on their symptoms and pre-existing conditions, they are directed to the right professionals.
Developers hope the voice assistant, which is more easily accessible to old people who prefer telephones than mobile apps or filling forms, will help authorities detect new infection clusters after France exits lockdown on May 11.
The system can handle 1,000 calls at a time. Callers’ information is sent anonymously to health authorities and kept for seven days before being destroyed.
“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time artificial intelligence is being used to serve public health,” professor Xavier Jouven, who leads the project, told Le Monde newspaper.
The “AlloCovid” number is separate from the “StopCovid” mobile contact-tracing app the government wants to launch.

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How coronavirus helped TikTok find its voice | Technology – Blog – 10 minute

How coronavirus helped TikTok find its voice | Technology – Blog – Tempemail.co

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A person in a grass-covered suit lurks behind a wheelie bin before sprinting down a residential cul-de-sac. In a cramped bathroom, five housemates lip-sync in a limescale-stained bath. NHS staff dance on a deserted ward. A family of four performs a dance routine in a suburban garden. The father is out of time.
These are the faces of the UK’s TikTok obsession. Across the country, in teenage bedrooms and house shares, Brits stuck at home by the coronavirus lockdown are firing up TikTok, propping their phones against walls and hitting record.
Founded in 2012 by Chinese entrepreneur Zhang Yiming, TikTok is one of the most popular video-sharing apps in the world, downloaded more than 2bn times globally. Users create 15-second clips set to music or soundbites, which they can overlay with digital special effects.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, TikTok was predominantly favoured by British teenagers, who posted prank videos or the latest trending dance routine on it. But since the lockdown, TikTok has become a seething leviathan of user-generated content, chewing down our boredom, our fatigue and our fear and spitting them back at us in 15-second chunks, to be digested ad infinitum.
According to mobile industry analysts Sensor Tower, one in three Brits – 24 million people – has TikTok installed on their devices. The week before Boris Johnson announced the lockdown, 278,000 UK users downloaded TikTok on their phones, up 6% from the week previously. For the week of 23 March, when lockdown was enforced, UK installations surged by 34%. In lieu of going to bars, pubs or clubs, Britons would be staying in – and whiling away our time on TikTok.

@maddiedavies.x
Next door neighbour trying hard not to get caught whilst on lockdown… ##foryou ##fyp ##foryoupage ##viral ##tiktok ##foryoupagethis ##safehands ##4u
♬ original sound – maddiedavies.x

“>I keep asking 18-year-old Madeline Mai-Davies what it’s like to be an overnight TikTok celebrity, but all she can do is rattle off numbers for me. “So the bush-man video went viral on 16.5m views,” Mai-Davies says giddily, “and the video where I pretended to surprise my boyfriend naked, now that’s got 12.5m views.”
After joining TikTok just six days ago, the unemployed waitress from Stevenage – like almost everyone else in the hospitality sector, coronavirus cost Mai-Davies her job – has 210,000 followers. In less time than it takes for a banana to go brown, she has accrued an online following double the circulation of some national newspapers. How does she feel? “To be fair, it has been a headfuck,” she responds, before reeling off more figures.
Mai-Davies became a TikTok influencer after a video she posted of her boyfriend pretending to break the coronavirus lockdown – by creeping down their road in a grass-covered costume – went viral. (At the time of writing, it had 1.6m views.) Sudden fame has left Mai-Davies punch-drunk on her own celebrity. “This Morning got in contact with me,” she says breathlessly. “They want me to FaceTime Holly and Phil. We’ve been in hundreds of articles in 20 different counties.”
Becoming a TikTok influencer is now a viable career. “I want to be a content creator and make people laugh,” says 24-year-old Akafi Ali, from London. Ali quit his job as a Sainsbury’s cashier to pursue his TikTok dream: his videos satirise Somali culture or feature Ali on caterwauling form. “Everyone is going to the supermarket to grab toilet rolls!” Ali says in one video. “Are you serious? Just wash your ass!”
Ali says TikTok was already popular before coronavirus, but that the lockdown has supercharged it. “There are a lot more people jumping on,” he says. With this influx of new influencers comes competition. “Before, if you uploaded a video, you could easily get 100,000 views in the first hour,” says Ali. “But now you don’t get on the For You page as easily as before.” (For You is the landing page on TikTok, tailored to users’ interests.)
Mai-Davies also plans to give the TikTok influencer thing a go and is posting daily videos. “When I go to bed, I think about ideas for tomorrow’s video,” she says. She tells me that some young girls have set up a fan page about her on Instagram. “They write, ‘I love her so much, she’s my Queen,’” she says. She sounds bemused. “This is so crazy. How have I got a fan page?”
The most important thing to understand about TikTok is that it is anarchic: it has no internal logic or guiding principle. Many TikTok videos are absurdist jokes. People surprise family members, impersonate celebrities or set up elaborate punchlines. The platform frequently has the surreal quality of a fever dream: videos riff on arcane internet ephemera or make nonsensical jokes. Non-sequiturs are common. Creativity is paramount.
“Surrealism is embedded into the DNA of the internet,” says Kenneth Goldsmith, author of Wasting Time on the Internet. He sees TikTok’s popularity as a natural reaction to the oppressive mania of a global lockdown – it is a pressure valve for people cooped up indoors. “The only response to an existential situation is absurdity and humour,” Goldsmith says. “It brings us back to the darker side of surrealism.”
On Instagram, we are primped and preening, on Twitter, loudmouthed and strident, but on TikTok, we can just be weird. Which makes it the perfect platform to ride out a pandemic that has nearly one-third of the world’s population trapped at home. “It’s therapeutic,” Goldsmith explains. “If we look at Freud’s theorising of the joke, the joke is always about showing humour in the face of death.”
“I’m sort of embarrassed by it,” says John Palmer of his TikTok account. The 17-year-old, from County Durham, specialises in the sort of hyper-surreal videos you’d expect to jump into through a chalk pavement drawing – if Mary Poppins used TikTok. Typically, Palmer’s videos refer to popular memes or obscure internet jokes.
In one video, Palmer rips a much-memed Michelle Obama soundbite to make a joke about Prince William using coronavirus to leapfrog Charles in the line of succession. In another, he pretends to talk to the squadron of imaginary friends he’s made in self-isolation. “It’s sort of about finding the template, but pushing the meme as far as it will go, making it weirder and weirder, until it gets to a point where it doesn’t make sense unless you’ve seen everything else before,” Palmer says. “It spirals down into something else.”
This is TikTok as pure subculture: in order to participate at Palmer’s level, you need to have swum through digital water since childhood, a graceful stroke through each platform – Facebook, Vine, Instagram – that is easy and assured. There is no need for gatekeepers: the price of admission to this subculture is simply understanding the joke. “I show it to my parents and they don’t get it,” Palmer explains. “It’s the meme culture of Gen Z. There’s so much background to memes. You need to have lived through them.”
As a TikTok old timer, Palmer is mortified by the platform’s exploding popularity during the coronavirus pandemic. “I’m not looking forward to all of the adults discovering TikTok,” he says with a sigh.
There’s a simple reason why people are flocking to TikTok: it’s a superb time waster. And in lieu of freedom or gainful employment, right now the only thing the British public has in abundance is time to burn.

@rachleary
Welcome to my stay-at-home-covid-19-update rave x ##coronavirus ##foryou ##foryoupage *contains flashing lights*
♬ B.B.C. News Theme – TV Theme Tune Factory

“>“People are just looking for ways to keep themselves occupied,” says TikTok creator Rachel Leary, 23, from Manchester. “Having TikTok on your phone is a really easy thing to do to pass the time. There’s nothing else to do.”
TikTok is designed to be addictive: you can scroll its dashboard for hours without ever running out of content. Its algorithm uses artificial intelligence to observe your interests and deliver videos that fit. Palmer tells me that since downloading TikTok on his phone, his screen time has gone up from seven hours a day to 12.
And when you finally tire of scrolling through TikTok’s neverending dashboard, you can start making videos. Palmer only started posting his own videos when the coronavirus lockdown started. “I was locked in the house and had nothing else to do,” he says. “I thought making a video might be something to do for a day to occupy myself.” He sounds surprised. “But then I continued with it.”
TikTok is a curative to boredom: there is always a new challenge to try or dance routine to learn. “TikTok is a space for the familiar play we’ve seen on the internet for decades now,” says Ryan Milner of the College of Charleston. “Challenges that went around on YouTube or Facebook, like the ice-bucket challenge or the Kylie Jenner challenge, are now on TikTok.”
And although many TikTok videos may appear inane on first viewing, making a successful TikTok video takes skill, care and creativity. “When you’re writing the caption on TikTok, it really has to flow well and have the right syntax,” Palmer says, “because if it’s too confusing people don’t like it or ignore it. It has to flow really well.”
Leary reshot her most popular TikTok video – in which she pretends to DJ to the BBC News theme tune using household cleaning products – to improve her comic timing. “I didn’t instantly look at it and think, that’s so funny,” she explains. “So I refilmed it and the second time I took a swig of wine. That’s the part of the video that people have found the funniest and commented on.” Her instinct was correct: the video has received 151,000 likes and was played on the BBC.
Another characteristic of TikTok that makes it well suited to the coronavirus lockdown: it is primarily an indoor platform. “TikTok has always been about being 15 and staying at home,” explains David Nichols of the University of Melbourne. “That’s the accepted backdrop. And now everyone has to stay at home! So TikTok was made for coronavirus. Not deliberately, but it was.”
Unlike Instagram, where influencers swagger in front of a rotating backdrop of cocktail bars and tropical beaches, TikTokkers have always filmed themselves at home, in their bedrooms. “Instagram is more for like going out and getting drunk or going on holiday,” Palmer says. “Instagram is superficial. But TikTok is just people posting stupid things and it’s addictive, so you can keep going and going.”
Many of the young people I speak to say a variant of the same thing: TikTok used to be uncool, until suddenly it wasn’t. Palmer tells me that his peers would often write “Here as a joke” on their TikTok bios, because they were embarrassed to be on the app. “If TikTok came up in conversation, everyone would say, ‘Urgh, no one goes on that,’” says 16-year-old Libby Atkinson, from Manchester.
Coronavirus supercharged a process that was already taking place: the process of TikTok becoming cool. “All my friends are coming on it because they have nothing to do,” says Atkinson. As a result, more young people are jumping ship, from Instagram to TikTok. “Everyone is moving away from Instagram to TikTok,” says Ali. “It’s going to become the No 1 app that everyone is using.”
This exodus of Gen Z from Instagram to TikTok mirrors the way millennials dumped Facebook in the 2010s. “Apps are generational in a half-decade sense,” says Milner. “It makes perfect sense that Gen Z would have their own platform and it would be TikTok. If you look at Instagram and everyone on it is aged 25 and older, you want to find your own place.”
Even as we abscond from Instagram in droves, TikTok would not exist without it. Milner says: “Something unique about TikTok is how much it is centred on the image of the creator and their physical body… That wouldn’t have happened had Instagram not made us much more used to having our face and bodies being on camera.” Instagram sandblasted away our self-consciousness: it made us comfortable with being on camera.
Where 16-year-olds go, adults follow. Celebrities including Lizzo, Britney Spears and Justin Bieber have posted TikTok videos during the lockdown. Non-celebrities are also flooding the app: Leary’s mum has become hooked on the platform. “She keeps telling me that she can’t stop scrolling,” Leary laughs. “TikTok has made it into the mainstream now,” says Nichols. “It’s part of popular culture. A year ago, I’d have to explain what TikTok was to adults.”
As TikTok grows up, it loses its countercultural edge. “I discovered it through my daughter,” explains Wendy Paintain, a 54-year-old from Lichfield. “She was throwing herself around the living room, in front of her phone. I thought, what on earth is this rubbish? I downloaded it to have a look. And then I thought, actually, it’s quite entertaining.” She lets rip a loud laugh.

@grandadjoe1933
very sad, we need to do better 😔. video creds @goubtube 🙌. ##staysafe ##selfisolation ##wishmeluck ##supermarket ##considerothers ##washyourhands
♬ If The World Was Ending – JP Saxe ft. Julia Michaels

“>Paintain is the creative brains behind the Grandad Joe TikTok account, which features lighthearted videos of her father, Joe, 87, who is self-isolating with her during the pandemic, dancing and making jokes. The Grandad Joe account blew up after Paintain posted a video of Joe looking forlorn in a ransacked supermarket. It went viral, amassing 42.5m views.
Since then, Joe has been accepted into the TikTok top creators programme, been invited for TV appearances and has even started to make money from brand partnerships. “He’s grown really quickly,” says Paintain of her father’s TikTok account. “He got 1.6 million followers in nine weeks. He’s even got a blue tick!” (An indicator of a verified celebrity.) She takes me upstairs to speak to Joe, who is having a nap. “I can’t understand why it’s so popular, really,” Joe tells me. “I’m an old fossil. I guess I’m having my 15 minutes of fame. Did you know that I might be going on the telly?”
Alongside these older content creators, official bodies have been using TikTok to publish public health information during the coronavirus pandemic. The health secretary, Matt Hancock, has uploaded TikTok videos urging people to stay at home; the World Health Organization has 1.4 million followers on the app. During the Easter bank holiday weekend, when many feared people may break lockdown rules, due to the warm weather, the UK government ran ads on TikTok, asking people to stay at home.
Coronavirus trends float through the app, like driftwood. There’s the #iwillsurvivechallenge (where users wash their hands to the Gloria Gaynor anthem), and the #stayathomechallenge, where NHS workers and TikTok creators urge users to stay indoors, sharing exercise routines or cooking tips to pass the time. (The #stayathomechallenge has more than 2.6bn views.) Bored in the House, the song by Tyga and up-and-coming rapper Curtis Roach, has become TikTok’s unofficial coronavirus anthem: more than 2m videos have been created using the song, with more than 923 million views globally.
All coronavirus content on TikTok has a banner linking to reputable news sources. The app’s UK general manager, Richard Waterworth, says: “We [have] introduced a range of in-app features, notifications and safety measures specifically designed to elevate credible and accurate information from trusted sources.” But preventing the spread of fake news can be difficult to enforce in practice: conspiracy theories linking 5G to coronavirus are easy to find.
Healthcare workers have also turned to the app. “Traditional TikTok was a dance platform,” says NHS doctor and former Love Island contestant Alex George. The 29-year-old has 104,000 followers on TikTok, where he posts videos explaining how coronavirus is transmitted or the correct way to wash your hands. “But that’s not true any more. People are engaging with health content.”
Coronavirus has helped TikTok to grow up. What was once a platform for uninhibited free play, detached from the cares and concerns of the outside world, has become outward facing. Although this is not the first time that TikTokkers have been civic-minded – during the 2019 Australian bushfires, users ridiculed Australian prime minister Scott Morrison’s handling of the crisis and raised money for affected communities – coronavirus has pushed TikTok into a new prominence. TikTok itself has pledged €62m to support European healthcare workers and communities affected by the pandemic.
George is hopeful that his videos will communicate key public health messages to a younger audience. “Young people don’t engage with traditional media forms,” he says, “but they might watch my TikTok videos and educate their grandparents about how to wash their hands properly.”

@lizzo
Omg y’all
♬ original sound – jeanvictorm

“>Sorcha Mackenzie joined TikTok long before coronavirus. She did so for the same reason many other people will be downloading it right now: because she was lonely.
“At the time, I was pretty socially isolated,” explains Mackenzie, a 28-year-old artist from Melbourne. “I was running this gallery across town, in the docklands, and it’s a pretty desolate area. Not many people come there. I would be there all day, until late at night, on my own every single day.” She was rapidly hooked. “It made the world feel like a very big place,” Mackenzie explains. “You feel interconnected.”
Mackenzie believes the new TikTok users are reaching out for the same thing she craved during her days in that abandoned Melbourne dockyard: a sense of community. “It makes perfect sense to me why TikTok has boomed and so many people have downloaded it at the moment,” Mackenzie says. “It offers a salve to isolation.”
As the British public hunkers down at home, alone, in some cases literally returning to the bedrooms of its youth, TikTok connects us to an online community of people who are also muddling along as best as they can. “It feels like a safe place,” says Atkinson. “You don’t feel like you’re being judged.”
The sublime and the serious, the silly and the strange: TikTok is the perfect platform for these times. As the world changes, people who’d never have dreamed of posting videos of themselves dancing in their pyjamas online or lip-syncing in their kitchen, think: why not?
“It feels like such an uncomfortable, incredibly bizarre moment,” says Mackenzie, “and there’s such a big shift in everything. People are forced to take stock of what is important. They lose that sense of ego or barrier of caring about what other people think about them.” TikTok allows us to see others and be seen ourselves. It brings levity to otherwise dark and anxiety-filled days. It lets the air in.
Layer by layer, the coronavirus pandemic has peeled away our braggadocio and our hubristic plans for the future and returned all of us to a childlike state. We sit at home, like children, and wait to be told what to do. And while we wait, we play online.

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ICICI Bank launches voice banking services on Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

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ICICI Bank has announced that it has integrated its AI powered multi-channel chatbot, ‘iPal’, with the world’s two most popular voice assistant apps–Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant– to enable its retail banking customers to undertake an array of banking services with just a simple voice command. This novel facility offers customers yet another way to connect with their Bank from home at a time when they are advised to stay indoors in the wake of the nationwide lockdown.
The launch of voice banking facility comes close on the heels of new digital initiatives undertaken by the Bank namely, chat based banking services on WhatsApp and ‘ICICIStack’, a set of digital banking and APIs (Application Programme Interface), to ensure uninterrupted banking experience to customers—both retail and business. ‘ICICIStack’ offers nearly 500 services that covers almost all banking requirements of customers such as digital account opening, loan solutions, payment solutions, investments and care solutions.
To get the benefit of the voice banking offering, customers need to download the Alexa / Google Assistant and link their ICICI Bank account through a secure two factor authentication process. They can then simply speak out their query to Alexa / Google Assistant enabled devices to check their savings account balance and credit card details including due date, due amount and last five transactions. For example, the customer can ask “Alexa, what is my account balance?” Then, the Bank sends the information privately and securely via an SMS to the customer’s mobile number registered with the Bank.
Additionally, they can ask queries related to the Bank’s products and services, which ‘iPal’ will read out aloud through the Alexa / Google Assistant enabled devices.
Speaking on the initiative, Anup Bagchi, Executive Director, ICICI Bank said, “It has always been our endeavour to offer improved digital convenience to our customers. Recently, we had rolled out ‘ICICIStack’, the most comprehensive digital platform in the country by a bank, and Whatsapp banking to facilitate crores of customers to continue all their banking, digitally and from a remote location, without visiting a bank branch.
Now, we have introduced voice banking on two of the most popular voice assistants in the world. Our retail customers can execute a host of their banking requirements from their home securely and 24×7, without visiting a branch. With the growing comfort of customers in using digital assistants like Alexa / Google Assistant in every-day life, we believe that this would add immense convenience to our customers, as it allows them to get speedy and personalised banking experience whenever they need it.”

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Tata Capital’s Voice Bot now available on Amazon’s Alexa- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

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TIA, Tata Capital’s VoiceBot is now available on Amazon’s Alexa through its Echo device Series. By following a simple one-time account linking process on Alexa, customers can access a host of services through voice commands.
TIA on Alexa will provide a whole new voice assisted experience to Tata Capital’s customers, who can now access loan statements, welcome letters, amortization schedules and Final IT certificates. With a simple command, customers can also receive email statements and other documents instantly to their email id.
Tata Capital’s latest voice service can be accessed with 3simple steps:

Step 1: Go the Alexa Skill Store and type TIA and select Enable
Step 2: Set up One- time Authentication using User ID and password

Step 3: Set up a Voice PIN and start accessing TIA on Alexa services

With customers with more than one account, there is an option to create a default account preference.
Speaking about Alexa offering, Abonty Banerjee, Chief of Digital and Marketing, Tata Capital says, “Conversational devices provide us an opportunity to enhance our digital service offerings to our customers. As voice assisted devices gain momentum in India, customers are ready to use such platforms for all their needs including for customer service. Our endeavour is to make our services available across multiple channels and platforms and give the customer options to choose the one he/she prefers. “
Tata Capital’s customers can currently be serviced by logging on to the Tata Capital website, Mobile Apps, TIA (the chat and voice bot) and now on Alexa as well. In today’s rapidly digitized environment when financial services and customer choices are becoming more competitive by the day, offering services on a popular platform like Amazon Alexa is a step forward for the company in enhancingthe standards for service delivery.

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Pandemics of today, technology for tomorrow; what part will voice play in the future?- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Alexa, tell me the truth.
Previously, large tech companies have been accused of playing a part in the spread of fake news by not monitoring the truth of what is being posted and advertised. Positively, the current environment has led to tech giants taking on more responsibility, with Google, Amazon and other voice answer providers quickly ensuring that accurate up-to-date information about the epidemic pulled from reliable sources is being provided to users. Google is currently answering ‘What is coronavirus’ with an in-depth description from the NHS website. Alexa gives a definition from gov.uk.
Both giants have further adopted an aggressive approach to coronavirus-related voice apps, and individuals attempting to profiteer off of uncertain and challenging circumstances.
The new normal: customer behaviour inside the home
The current environment is driving increased usage of voice assistants in consumer lifestyle.
In the home, the current environment will drive consumers to rely more on their assistants for entertainment, deliveries, mental health support, calling and community connections, work outs and practical instructions such as cooking tips. After normality returns, the new need and deeper understanding of the devices will remain, and voice will have a new solid consumer base.
Example: How smart speakers can assist streamlined methods of home working
A current example we’re seeing of this is with the sudden movement of most of the UK’s workforce to a home environment, there is newfound use for voice technology and remote working.
With a new need to be able to complete our daily tasks in a home setting, voice enabled devices will play a part in us professionalising our home environments. Looking back ten years, technology would not have allowed us to sustain ‘work as normal’ as it does today. Scheduling reminders and to-dos and building company skills for staff updates and company news are some examples of what assistants could help with. We expect to see voice become rapidly more important in the professional domain.
The new normal: customer behaviour outside the home
We don’t just expect to see consumer behaviour towards voice change within the home, but also outside of it. Certain customer journeys done in-person, such as doctors’ appointments or via touch, such as airport bag check in or grocery store payments are now sparking hygiene fears and will drive a demand for virtual or hands-free interactions.
Example: Moving towards a cashless future
Amazon is already working on voice-controlled petrol pumps and automated shop payments via Amazon Go, and we expect to see voice taking over the consumer path to using ATM’s, ticket machines and self-service counters such as those found in the Post Office. The technical challenge here is how to control the machines accurately via voice in an often-noisy environment; two possible solutions would be allowing consumers to use their Bluetooth headphones to connect to the machine or using built-in nearfield microphones.
Streamlining communication services
Now is a trying time for many brands, and it has become crucial for them to be able to talk directly consumers. In categories such as online conferencing, healthcare, household goods, home delivery and exercise and wellness we are seeing huge spikes in demand, whereas we are seeing falling demand in areas such as luxury goods, events and travel booking.
Brands will need to adopt new ways to manage the influx of customer communications both in terms of positive and negative queries. Delivery services will need to have ways to communicate on service availability, booking slots and ways they are safeguarding both their staff and customers. Equally, insurance and travel businesses are dealing with large volumes of claims, refunds and complaints.
Voice offers a platform to sort through consumer requests and filter out the majority which can be replied to automatically. Already we have seen LV= implement a voice skill which will take pressure off call centres which are having to close down because of COVID-19.
Example: Mitigating the strain on our healthcare systems
According to Xinmin Evening News, a voice recognition bot is now being used in Shanghai to automate screening tests for COVID-19, running 200 calls within 5 minutes, compared to the two to three hours it would take manually. Artificial intelligence developer and US based platform Orbita has launched a voice assistant and chatbot to the same effect. This will help prevent people from overloading healthcare workers who don’t have symptoms of the virus and will also help to triage patients who are showing symptoms so that they don’t spread the disease further.
Voice looks to play a key part in the health system moving forwards if as bots become more capable of spotting symptoms and providing advice. If we can provide accurate advice to people in the comfort of their homes, voice might be key in supporting overwhelmed NHS 111 lines or A&E waiting rooms in the coming period.
The future for brands
We are now seeing many brands who have been biding their time with voice pulling out of channels such as experiential and outdoor and accelerating their efforts in building actions and skills as well as ensuring that content such as FAQs are optimised for voice.
In this time of change we expect brands to turn to voice not just as a marketing channel, but as a means of solving formidable business challenges and connecting with individual consumers at scale.
John Campbell, founder, Rabbit and Pork

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Vodafone-Idea confident to handle surge in voice and data services demand due to COVID-19- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

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Vodafone Idea on Thursday said it is monitoring traffic pattern and remains confident of handling surge in voice and data services demand amid country-wide lockdown to tackle the spread of coronavirus, as the company made an appeal to the telecom department to clear pending applications for spectrum allocation.
The telecom company, in an advisory, said it has activated pandemic response plan with risk mitigation protocols while ensuring continuity of mission-critical processes, to ensure uptime and smooth running of telecom networks, classified as essential services.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced a complete lockdown of the entire country for 21 days in an unprecedented move to try halt the spread of the pandemic shortly after which the Centre said all road, rail and air services will remain suspended during this period.
“We are hopeful that the Department of Telecommunications(DoT) would expedite our spectrum liberalization requests and regularize our backhaul spectrum. The Government realises the critical role of telecom services during this crisis and is taking necessary steps to enable smooth functioning of telecom operations,” Vodafone Idea Ltd (VIL) said.
A comprehensive pandemic response plan with requisite risk mitigation protocols has been activated while ensuring continuity of mission critical processes for keeping VIL networks working, given the essential nature of telecom services.
“Our Business Continuity Plans are being diligently reviewed across all operations. Our flagship Super network operations centre, located in Pune and Hyderabad, is the nerve centre of all 22 circles with centralised monitoring and control of our network, and also ensures business continuity with geo-redundancy,” the advisory said.
All enterprise services also continue to be monitored, to ensure business continuity, it added.“We have set up virtual war rooms where key team members are participating through concalls and video conferencing,” it said.
The company is continuously monitoring the traffic pattern and said it is confident of handling the growing demand of voice and data services during the lockdown period.
The infrastructure and technology deployments are substantially helping in managing the traffic spike.
“We are deploying capacities across using all means including addition of COW (Cell on wheels) sites wherever appropriate. We have also requested DoT to clear our pending applications for spectrum allocation,” it said.
Assigning highest priority to health and safety of its employees, VIL said while majority of team members have been enabled to work from home, the company is operating certain critical facilities with minimal staff to enable undisrupted services to customers around the clock, as per the government orders of operating essential services.
“We have organised temporary stay arrangement at our data centre locations, made food and groceries available at critical locations and providing vehicle on duty to facilitate movement of technical staff to sites. Our engineers are working in the field with utmost care by following the social distancing protocols,” VIL said.
Each field engineer carries three documents: 1) the DoT letter, Personal ID and Employee ID – while vehicles are tagged with 2) Emergency Telecom Services 3) stickers, the company said adding that other measures include daily briefings on safety, social distancing to all field and non-field staff, and supply of masks, gloves and sanitizers to drive test and other teams on ground.

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Govt’s alternative voice trial could struggle to attract telcos – Telco/ISP- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

A planned trial of alternative voice services in regional, rural and remote Australia could struggle to attract providers if trial services are held to the same standards as existing Telstra-backed ones, according to NBN Co.
The comments were made as work progressed on how the planned trials, backed by $2 million in government grants, would run.
Back in 2017, the government said it would eventually ditch the universal service obligation (USO) – under which Telstra provides and maintains voice services to all Australian premises – in favour of a universal services guarantee (USG), where voice services could be delivered by multiple providers.
A trial of newer voice solutions is intended to start in July and run for a year, and the government is currently canvassing its options.
Most major telcos, along with some smaller carriers, have put up their hand as potential trial participants. NBN Co said it also wanted to be part of the mix.
However, NBN Co believed there could be reticence among providers to participate if their trial solutions were held to the same standards as current USO-provided services.
Under the trial, it is expected that end customers will pay to keep their existing (likely Telstra) voice service and then be supplied a free trial service, with all their calls rerouted to the trial service.
“The current USO voice service is overlaid with an extensive list of requirements built up over many years to ensure reliability, timely installation and repairs, modern features (like call forwarding) and, when Telstra was the monopoly access network, means to contract with alternative retail suppliers of voice calls (pre-selection and override),” NBN Co said in a submission. [pdf]
“Consideration should be given to the benefits of signalling a change to the market, and to the needs of telecommunications users, that any alternative voice service will be less prescriptive in its terms and conditions.
“An alternative voice trial service provider may be concerned about the regulatory obligations that will be applied to the service and the liability that would attach to any service failure. 
“To attract participants, the government could consider signalling to the market what regulatory conditions would apply to an alternative service. 
“For example, the provisions of a standard telephone service and all the terms and conditions that have been built up over the years could discourage participation.”
NBN Co said that end users should be educated to “diversify their voice services” so that they had multiple potential options in future in case one went out.
Though NBN Co can and does supply voice services over its fixed wireless and satellite networks, it noted these would never meet the standards set by the USO.
“NBN Co is not the provider of USO voice services, and its networks weren’t designed for this purpose, particularly in NBN satellite and fixed wireless areas,” it said. 
In fine print to the submission, NBN Co said voice over fixed wireless had “no perceptible difference in voice quality and speed to a fixed-line service, but it is not assured to the level of a fixed-line service.”
Additionally, NBN Co said, the fixed wireless network already has over twice as many users as it was designed to support, meaning the infrastructure is already under pressure without having to support USO-matched voice.
On the satellite network, NBN Co noted that voice “needs to traverse 34,000km to the satellite in geostationary orbit around the equator, and back again.”
“Even travelling at the speed of light this means a 125 millisecond delay,” it said.
“NBN Co’s informal testing for voice and video calls indicates a small delay that is almost imperceptible. 
“Calling from one voice service over satellite to another satellite service means a ‘double hop’ in satellite transmission and the delay is more noticeable.”
NBN Co also said satellite services faced “other reliability issues, including short periods of service interruption or degradation from weather events, or ‘rain fade’” that could make them unsuitable for high-quality voice. 
“Heavy rain at an earth station can affect transmission of services to satellite beams hundreds of kilometres away where there are fine conditions,” NBN Co said.
“It is worth noting that these outages are normally of a short duration as rain-related weather events are typically very localised and fast moving.”
One possibility that NBN Co raises to improve the resiliency of satellite services – particularly if they are to carry a USO-like voice service – would be for premises to be connected to more than one satellite.
“With appropriate funding and systems adjustments there are options to provide upstream network diversity on NBN satellite services. In this case the end user could have a secondary satellite network termination device (NTD) configured for an alternative satellite (NBN Co has two satellites – 1A and 1B), reducing the risk of an outage from satellite equipment failure on one satellite,” it said.
Telstra also appeared supportive of lowering some of the regulatory criteria for an alternative voice service to be considered for the trial.
Vodafone also called for flexibility in being able to trial voice solutions that are not yet commercially available, in addition to those that are.

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