Brett Cenkus
Traders Magazine Online News

Trump Won't Kill America, Bitcoin Will

In this shared piece, author Brett Cenkus argues that nation-states will cease to exist not because of a who, but a what - and it's already here.

Traders Poll

Are you ready to comply with the new updates required by the amended Rule 606?

Free Site Registration

April 30, 2001

Voice Technology Perks Up Top Desks: System Lets Pros Stay Ahead in Fast Markets

By Peter Chapman

In sum, more messages helps to increase revenues while the elimination of clerical staff reduces overall expenses, pros say.

"It makes the world a lot more efficient," said a trader who did not want his name disclosed. "The fact that every trader on the desk can super' and not have to wait in line for the two AutEx operators is a great thing. You send out a lot more supers because everyone can super at the same time." This trader adds that the system rarely goes down and is user-friendly.

Using it certainly seems painless. A small box called UmeEars connects a trader's turret with his computer. He pushes a button on his turret's handset and speaks into a so-called voice user interface' (VUI). A form on the VUI automatically fills itself out with the trader's words after a pause of about two seconds. "IBM, offer a million, 93 3/4," is how a typical super message might read. The trader confirms the information and then says "send."

The message then travels through the UmeVoice infrastructure into the brokerage's message server and then onto the AutEx and Bridge platforms. From there it is broadcast to the designated institutions.

A trader can correct his mistakes. If he says "1,000" when he meant "10,000" he simply says: "quantity, 10,000." The contents of the VUI form then change. The technology even checks the current price of a stock to confirm the trader's input is not out of line with the market. If a trader says "60" when he meant "16" the VUI will enter "16" if that price is within the day's trading range.

Although UmeVoice recognizes "thousands of words," according to Padala, its limited vocabulary reduces the chances of miscommunication. That's a problem that has limited sales of off-the-shelf dictation software, which must contend with all the words in the English language in millions of combinations.

Most of UmeVoice's vocabulary consists of the names of stocks or their symbols. It also recognizes slang. A trader can advertise 1,000 "GTE" or 1,000 "Genny Phone." The software recognizes both transactions as the same. If a trader invents a new way to say GTE, UmeVoice will incorporate that phrasing into its database as well.

Finally, at the end of each day, a computer sifts through all the audio from all users to find phrases that weren't accepted by the VUI. If the computer discovers that a trader failed to communicate with the VUI, it or staff linguists, makes adjustments.

Building Support

UmeVoice and one-time rival Ficomp Systems both had speech recognition products on the market from the early 1990s. But it took several years and improvements before traders would accept them.

Bear Stearns' fixed income department struggled with and finally abandoned technology from Ficomp in the mid-90s. The New York Stock Exchange and the Chicago Merc also tested Ficomp technology and found it inadequate. The American Stock Exchange tested and rejected UmeVoice in the same period.