21 March 2014

ROCKIT: Paving the Road to Future of Conversational Interaction Technologies

New conversational interaction technologies raise many business and societal opportunities.  European research can provide interactive agents that are proactive, multimodal, social, and autonomous. Moreover, it is now possible to draw data from many different sources together to provide very rich context and knowledge to use in applications.  But how can the organisations who want to exploit this technology decide what products and services to develop, and where to invest their R&D?  ROCKIT is a new strategic roadmapping initiative that will create a shared vision and innovation agenda to guide this process for all types of stakeholders in this emerging area.

Most technology roadmaps merely describe the future and speculate about what will happen if technology is left to evolve of its own accord.  ROCKIT is different – we will decide what we want the future to hold in ten years' time, and create a structured and visual map of the steps we need to take in order to realize our vision. Markets and drivers, products and services, and enabling technologies will all form different layers so that readers can see the basics at a glance, find what interests them most, and drill down into detail.   For example, if a company knows their market requires a particular service, they will be able to see exactly what technology developments and science research is required to make that service happen, complete with an assessment of the readiness for every item.  Conversely, technology providers will be able to see wider possibilities for their components than they could on their own.  

We will start by defining our vision of the future – constructing a number of key “scenarios”, our future use cases – and the drivers and constraints that assess where the community currently is in its ability to deliver that vision. We will then establish the possible routes and required developments to fulfil that vision.   With this mapping done we will be able to highlight key enablers, technology gaps, risks and resource gaps. Iteration will ensure our roadmap is robust and correct. The roadmapping process will be ably led by Vodera, which has produced roadmaps leading to sounder research and innovation programmes in diverse application domains such as automotive, aerospace, security, healthcare and environmental monitoring.

Getting all this information under control has traditionally been a problem for roadmaps – but in ROCKIT pioneers the use of SharpCloud, a new online collaborative visualisation platform that makes it much easier to capture, edit, display, and disseminate roadmap contents than was previous possible.  As a result, the knowledge of the community will be in an accessible format that allows easy identification of trends, gaps, opportunities, and resources.

A roadmap is only as good as the people who contribute to it.  ROCKIT needs the right participants, and they have to cover every stakeholder community, from R&D and system integrators to component suppliers and usability experts, and more.  SMEs are just as important as large companies and public sector research organisations, since most current commercial activity takes place there. If you want to be involved, join the Conversational Interaction Technology Innovation Alliance (CITIA) Linkedin Group or speak to the ROCKIT partners. Forthcoming Workshops are planned in conjunction with major sector events such as LREC (Reykjavik, May 2014), ICASSP (Florence, May 2014) and LT Innovate Summit (Brussels, June 2014).

Article contributed by Costis Kompis, Vodera

Costis Kompis is the managing partner of Vodera, where he helps private and public organisations align their R&D activities, develop innovation strategies for emerging technologies and design new business models to capture market opportunities.

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