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Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / Voicify Account Coordinator Brooke Connolly, left, talks with CardioCube President and CEO Dr. Oskar Kiwic during the Project Voice conference at the Chattanooga Convention Center on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020 in Chattanooga, Tenn.

The WiFi was a spotty at the Project Voice conference this week — a painful irony for an event focused on emerging technology and drawn here by the city's high-speed internet — but the conference will make Chattanooga its permanent home, said conference organizer Bradley Metrock.

"The city of Chattanooga is hungry, and it has been supportive of this event from the very beginning," said Metrock, the CEO of Score Publishing. "We tested the boundaries of this facility's internet this time. We'll correct that next go 'round."

Project Voice drew 3,000 voice tech experts from more than 20 countries to the Chattanooga Convention Center, providing a showcase for the city and for event sponsor EPB.

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Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / People visit booths during the Project Voice conference at the Chattanooga Convention Center on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020 in Chattanooga, Tenn.
 

"I had no idea Chattanooga had the fastest internet in the world," said Adam Cheyer, vice president of research and development for event sponsor Samsung. "The internet structure excites me — though my experience at this hotel not as much."

This is the third year Project Voice has been hosted in Chattanooga, and the first year the name has been expanded beyond the Alexa Conference moniker to include all things voice tech. The conference has grown from around 600 attendees last year to roughly 3,000 this year and was sold out, Metrock said.

For local teacher Julie Daniel Davis, the Project Voice conference has become an annual event. She has spoken at the conference each of the last three years, and is excited to know she'll be able to make a long-term habit of Project Voice attendance.

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Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / Mark Cuban Companies Head of Growth Marketing QuHarrison Terry, left, and Data Driven.Design CEO Paul Hickey chat with a visitor at the Data Driven.Design booth during the Project Voice conference at the Chattanooga Convention Center on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020 in Chattanooga, Tenn.

"Chattanooga is known as an innovative city," said Davis, who is the director of Instructional Technology and Innovation at Chattanooga Christian School. "To have this emerging technology here is a great way for Chattanooga to be a shining example."

Davis uses voice tech at CCS for a host of educational uses, including as part of a lesson station rotation that sends small groups of kids through different lessons driven by voice assistants. Voice tech is also useful for shy youngsters navigating orientation can can ask voice assistants to answer their questions about the school, and for English-language learners who can converse with voice assistants for practice, Davis said.

J.Ed. Marston, vice president of Marketing for EPB, said the city is a great potential test market for companies that are developing voice tech and want to try out their products on users.

"Our size is an advantage," he said. "You can meet key decision-makers without it taking an act of Congress."

Contact Mary Fortune at mfortune@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6653. Follow her on Twitter at @maryfortune.

2020 Project Voice Awards

The winners of the 2020 Project Voice Awards include:

Outstanding Achievement Award recipients:

* Paul Cutsinger / Dave Isbitski (Amazon Alexa)

* Mandy Chan / Cathy Pearl (Google Assistant)

* Adam Cheyer (Samsung Bixby)

* Katie McMahon (SoundHound Inc.)

* Brian Roemmele (coined the term “voice-first”)

* Pete Erickson (created the VOICE Summit)

* Amazon (leading the Voice Interoperability Initiative)

Voice Developer of the Year:

* Matchbox.io

Voice Experience of the Year:

* “Alexa, What Am I Holding?” (Amazon)

Voice/AI Pioneer of the Year:

* Jeff Adams (Cobalt)

Voice/AI Journalist of the Year:

* Bret Kinsella (Voicebot.ai)

The Project Voice Medal for Diversity and Inclusion:

* Project Understood (CDSS + Google)

The “This Week in Voice” Award - Voice/AI Commentator of the Year:

* Bret Kinsella

Amazon Alexa Developer of the Year:

* Matchbox.io

Amazon Alexa Skill of the Year:

* NPR

Google Assistant Developer of the Year:

* Disney

Google Assistant Action of the Year:

* My Storytime

Samsung Bixby Developer of the Year:

* Adassa Innovations

Samsung Bixby Capsule of the Year:

* Radio.com

Independent Voice Assistant Developer of the Year:

* SoundHound Inc.

The Voice of the Car Summit Awards - Automotive Voice Experience of the Year:

* MBUX

Automotive Voice Developer of the Year:

* Mercedes-Benz

The Voice of Healthcare Summit Awards - Healthcare Voice Experience of the Year:

* Voice Preservation Clinic (VocalID + Northeastern University)

Healthcare Voice Developer of the Year:

* Orbita

The Voice of Education Summit Awards - Education Voice Experience of the Year:

* Highlights Storybooks from Bamboo

Education Voice Developer of the Year:

* Bamboo Learning

Digital Book World Awards - Publishing/Storytelling Voice Experience of the Year:

* Choose Your Own Adventure (Audible)

Publishing/Storytelling Voice Developer of the Year:

* Earplay

The Voice of Money Awards - Banking/Finance Voice Experience of the Year:

* Abbie (AllianceBernstein)

Banking/Finance Voice Developer of the Year:

* Best Innovation Group

Smart Home Voice Developer of the Year:

* Philips Hue

Retail Voice Developer of the Year:

* Blutag

Gaming Voice Experience of the Year:

* Question of the Day

Gaming Voice Developer of the Year:

* Matchbox.io

News Voice Experience of the Year:

* NPR “Continuous Listening” Experience With Amazon Alexa

News Voice Developer of the Year:

* NPR

Flash Briefing of the Year:

* Voice in Canada (Teri Fisher)

Third-Party Voice Development Tool of the Year:

* Voiceflow

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Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / A sign with reference to Amazon's Alexa is seen during the Project Voice conference at the Chattanooga Convention Center on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020 in Chattanooga, Tenn.

 

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