After two years in the making, a $3 million TeleBet Express voice-activated telephone betting system went live at Queensland TAB (TABQ) on Monday.
According to voice-enabled e-commerce solution provider VeCommerce, the system is believed to be one of the world's most advanced natural language speech-recognition applications, with 95 per cent accuracy.
The VeCommerce service allows TAB account holders to place anonymous, routine bets and race enquiries using a non-operator telephone method. The system registers the customer's instruction through natural voice recognition, said Paul Magee, VeCommerce's managing director.
Magee claimed the system was "more accurate than an human operator. It won't make a mistake," he said.
Following an 18-month trial among 300 TABQ customers, the speech recognition wagering system proved only 95 per cent reliable, according to the vendor. Magee attributed the 5 per cent error rate to users with "particularly heavy accents", in which case the computer asked the user to repeat their request until it registered successfully. If users' bets were not accepted by the system, a live operator would be on call upon a keypad prompt, Magee said.
"Tens of thousands" of bets were placed during the testing phase, according to Magee. TABQ and VeCommerce were "surprised" by the strong uptake among older punters, although Magee conceded that the companies may have overlooked the "urban" demographic of this group during trials.
Users enjoyed the privacy the service offered. It saved them the "embarrassment" of placing cheap bets over the counter or to a telephone operator, Magee said. "Serious" high-rollers placing expensive bets exploited TeleBet Express to "retain a degree of confidentiality", he said.
TABQ implemented the solution to meet rising customer demand for telephone-based gambling services. The product is scalable, according to Magee, with a 10,000-user capacity. "This is the way of dealing with delays caused by not having operators in peak periods," he said.
TABQ is also expecting significant cost-savings from the investment. The solution allows it to avoid overheads associated with building an additional call centre and paying operators' salaries.
TeleBet Express will be deployed to TAB branches across other states early next year, according to Magee, with NSW and Victoria the next states in line.
VeCommerce plans to also offer multilingual voice-enabled phone betting solutions to the Australian and New Zealand markets.
Caltex is in negotiation with the vendor to create voice-activated B2B procurement solutions, VeCommerce said. Local ticketing and transport companies are also considering partnering with the vendor to build real-time, voice-enabled transport timetable information, Magee said.