I read this week that SpeechUsability have been acquired (well had all their assets acquired) by PSS. Although Foviance (the company I work for) have carried out a variety of ‘usability’ work on IVR systems I wasn’t aware that their were any specialist companies. It seems to me that Speechusability is really just one person Dr. Susan Hura an “industry luminary”, according to Todd Funk, President and CEO of PSS (you can’t make this stuff up!).
Speechusability employ user centered design (UCD) principles to create better IVR experiences and Dr Hara has a strong background in the area. Here is her bio from the press release about the acquisition:
“Susan L. Hura, PhD is the founder of SpeechUsability, a consultancy focused on improving the user experience by incorporating user-centered design practices in speech technology projects. Susan started and managed the usability program at Intervoice as their Head of User Experience, and prior to that was a member of the human factors team at Lucent Technologies. She held a faculty position at Purdue University in the Department of Audiology and Speech Sciences where she cofounded a multidisciplinary research team dedicated to studying novel approaches to computer speech recognition. Susan holds a doctorate in Linguistics from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a frequent invited presenter at speech technology and usability conferences, and serves on the Board of Directors of AVIOS (the Applied Voice Input Output Society). Susan is also co-chair of the 2008 SpeechTek conference.”
PSS seems to be going from strength to strength and is one of the fastest growing firms in the US and is listed in Entrepreneur magazines top 100. At 48 people and $6.6m revenues after 5 years it is not a stellar grower but is in a good space. Certainly worth watching, particular if they genuinely take usability of IVR seriously, which it would seem they do.