50 States of Voice [Part 2 of 5]

Exploring how voice tech and AI are being used across the United States

This is part 2 of 5 of 50 States of Voice (web version available here), our five-part series exploring how voice and AI are being used across the United States.

Part 1 is available here, and parts 3-5 will release throughout this week to paid subscribers.

There’s no better way to illustrate how voice and AI have permeated our culture and society than to go across the United States, state by state, and share examples of how the technology has been explored, discussed, and utilized.


First Hawaiian Bank, the largest and oldest bank in Hawaii which is based in Honolulu, was one of the first financial institutions to roll out voice banking via Amazon Alexa.

The bank’s Alexa skill, created back in 2018, is available through the Alexa skills marketplace here.


Idaho State University is home to the Data Science Alliance, a cross-functional group of researchers and academics promoting collaboration and conversation with external industry and government.

With the increasing role that data science plays within the realms of machine learning and artificial intelligence, the DSA has made it easier for Idaho to recruit students seeking to go into these developing fields.


One of Illinois’ most prominent companies made one of voice tech’s most prominent acquisitions to date.

McDonald’s acquired Apprente, a conversational AI company specializing in complex, multi-lingual conversational ordering technology. The company’s team then became founding members of McDonald’s new business unit “McD Tech Labs.”


Federated Media owns and operates a series of radio stations throughout Indiana. They’ve partnered with voice advertising pioneer Instreamatic to allow listeners to speak to advertising throughout Federated Media’s ecosystem of advertisers and territories.


The Iowa Initiative for Artificial Intelligence is a university-wide initiative at the University of Iowa to promote interdisciplinary learnings and projects involving AI and machine learning.

The initiative is directed by Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Milan Sonka, who said this about the program:

“The most important message for the university and the research community is that we cannot keep doing things the way we used to,” Sonka said. “Now that new tools, new ways, and new approaches are available, we have to learn them, and we have to use them to advance.”


Two voice/AI stories worth mentioning here:

1) In 2019, Kansas’ state government created an Alexa skill to allow drivers to take a practice driver’s license exam. Hundreds of residents took advantage of it.

Then, just this past summer, Kansas expanded on this effort and added a second version of the practice exam in Spanish.

2) Wichita State University was named a founding member of the newly-formed AI Institute for Foundations of Machine Learning, earning a $700k grant that will be overseen by faculty member Dr. Kaushik Sinha.


Kentucky Power, which provides power to 165,000 residents across 20 counties throughout the state, has created the Kentucky Power Voice Assistant.

Available on both Alexa as well as Google Assistant, the voice experience answers questions about customer accounts, as well as provides sustainability information designed to help residents manage energy consumption.


Two researchers at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette have developed an AI-powered model that predicts the occurrence of epileptic seizures up to one hour before they occur, with 99.6% accuracy.

The model was tested and verified with collaboration by Boston Children’s Hospital and now can help the over 50 million sufferers of epilepsy worldwide.


The University of Maine’s UMaine AI program aims to use research, education, and strategic partnerships to bring AI and its myriad benefits to the state.

The program has already funded four seed grants:

  • Improved Adversarial Attack Detection Toward Robustness of Deep Neural Networks. PI: Salimeh Yasaei Sekeh (School of Information and Computer Science (SCIS)). Co-PIs: Ali Abedi (Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering); Richard Corey (VEMI Lab); Nicholas Giudice (VEMI Lab); Collaborator: Theodore Nowak (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory).

  • Advancing Legal-Technological Approaches for Protecting Privacy Rights and Civil Liberties in the Age of Big Data. PI: Harlan Onsrud (SCIS). Co-PIs: Chaofan Chen (SCIS); Sepideh Ghanavati (SCIS); Manuel Woersdoerfer (SCIS/Maine Business School/Department of Philosophy). Collaborators: Peter Guffen (UMaine Law School/Pierce Atwood LLP) and James Campbell (Maine Freedom of Information Coalition and UMaine adjunct graduate faculty).

  • Interpretation of Light-Material Interactions with Machine Learning for the Detection of Shared Surface Contamination. PI: Caitlin Howell (Department of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering). Co-PIs: Salimeh Yasaei Sekeh (SCIS); Sheila Edalatpour (Department of Mechanical Engineering); Richard Corey (VEMI Lab).

  • Context-Dependent Deep Learning for Seabird Recognition in Drone Survey Imagery. PI: Roy Turner (SCIS). Co-PIs: Cynthia Loftin (U.S. Geological Survey, Maine Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit/UMaine Department of Wildlife Ecology); Salimeh Yasaei Sekeh (SCIS). 


The University of Maryland’s Department of Information Systems conducts a wide range of research encompassing AI and machine learning, data science, and human-computer interaction.

In August, their research led to the creation of a schema for UX designers to use to ensure accessibility is broadly incorporated into their designs, and ultimately, their technologies.

Over 20,000 executives and technologists wake up to This Week In Voice VIP. Join them.

The Project Voice Advisory Group assists companies looking to add conversational AI core competency within a twelve-month period of time, reducing cost while supporting growth. We’re the map and the compass, helping you navigate what can be tricky and complicated waters. We’re working with multiple Fortune 1000 companies already in this capacity - reach out if interested.

Project Voice: Catalyst assists companies already operating in the voice/AI space, often as a main line of business, to generate marketing and business development wins. Reach out if interested in this as well.

This Week In Voice, Season 5, premiered Thursday October 15, featuring Daniela Braga (CEO, DefinedCrowd), Nils Lenke (VP Apps, Cerence), and Derek Roberti (VP Technology, North America, Cognigy).

The episode is available via YouTube here, via Apple Podcasts here, and via Stitcher Radio here.

Two free webinars coming up, both of which I will moderate and both are presented by DefinedCrowd (featuring a number of our other friends!) - click banners to register.

Register for Project Voice: Coast to Coast, our upcoming 34-city US roadshow leading up to Project Voice 2021, using any of the links below for our initial dates:

Miami - November 16

Tampa - November 17

Orlando - November 18

Jacksonville - November 19

Nashville - December 14

Memphis - December 15

New Orleans - December 16

Dallas - December 17

Houston - December 18

The Voice of Money examines the rapidly growing intersection of voice, AI, and modern banking and finance.

The Voice of Customer Service is a special two-day event all about how conversational AI is being deployed within modern customer service operations, including contact centers around the world.