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Ritch Haselden

A voice on the PERS market

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

HOBOKEN, N.J.—Voice activation has been an interesting topic that I’ve seen coming up more frequently when I hear about PERS—most recently when I spoke with Ritch Haselden, VP of sales at Essence Group, this week about Essence’s upcoming products, and what it takes to include voice activation. 

One of the things he highlighted in the company’s product roadmap is Essence’s VPD, and Haselden told me a lot about what went in to setting up voice capabilities in the company's VPD—standing for Voice Panic Detector. "The VPDwill be available for purchase this summer and is expected in the next few weeks," Haselden said.

“What that’ll allow somebody to do is be able to activate a pendant by saying a particular phrase of a particular series of words,” he said. The product is always listening for a particular phrase, he said, and when it hears that phrase it would act like a button press on the PERS unit.

Haselden said that, further on down the road, Essence could use voice activation to open up two-way dialogue with the central station.

The company has been testing the phrase “Call 911,” Haselden said. The process of picking a phrase to test was intensive, he said, making sure that it wasn’t common enough to be said in everyday conversation or on the television, but still easy to remember.

Testing involved a large variety of different people, saying the test phrase, “Call 911,” in a variety of pitches. “We’ve been testing in all kinds of different scenarios to make sure that we’re really getting down to a really quality product that provides a low rate of false alarms,” he said.

Essence would consider customized phrases for different companies if they requested such, Hasleden said, “Our process internally is we would at least test that phrase, but we’re definitely going to provide a lot of feedback and information on: Is that a phrase that (A) people can remember, (B) that people can actually articulate well, and (C) does the technology differentiate the words well enough so that it provides a solid response.”