Speech I/O technologies have made enormous technology steps over the last five years to the point where speaker-independent solutions are now poised to solve many of the handset I/O problems. Speech I/O is emerging as a cellular technology trend in its own right. It appears to have gone as yet unnoticed by the masses, but a relatively large percentage of handset shipped in 2006 had a high-quality speech recognition solution embedded.
In a recent report, IMS Research forecasts that the market is forecast to increase five fold over the next four years.
Senior Analyst, Patrick Connolly, stated, "In an extremely competitive market, companies from all sides of the cellular industry are looking to address this high?potential market. Outside of established third party developers, such as VoiceSignal, Infinity Telecoms and Nuance, leading handset manufacturers, including Nokia, Motorola and LG, have developed proprietary automatic speech recognition (ASR) solutions. Furthermore, the emergence of distributed speech recognition (DSR) technologies is bringing leading Internet companies to the mobile search market"
DSR solves the problem of efficiently entering Internet search requests via an embedded thin client. By utilising network-based search engines and processing capability (two things Google has in abundance) to perform the search, the information retrieved is fast, up-to-date and accurate. Recently, Google and Microsoft have been involved in acquisitions, high-profile recruitment and beta testing in the area of speech I/O and DSR, suggesting this is a key long term strategy of theirs.
Connolly went on to say, "the beauty of this technology is that it facilitates the introduction of an advertising-based revenue model to the mobile Internet without being intrusive to the end user, a problem the entire cellular industry has strived to solve over the last two years. With walled gardens crumbling, unlimited data-prices emerging and filtering technologies like GPS becoming commonplace, the market has never been better placed to offer high quality mobile Internet search. Speech I/O will bring these changes together by solving the problem of user friendly search entry".
Mobile Internet searching is inextricably linked to the location-based services (LBS) market, which is driven by GPS and is already emerging as a large revenue generator for operators.
Research analyst Matia Grossi, commented "As mapping solutions switch from on-board to Internet-based off-board solutions, speech creates an I/O interface that is user friendly and completely handsfree for the in-car environment. From a services point of view, as well as being an underlying technology for LBS, GPS can be used to focus Internet search content on the end-users location, a key dynamic for handsets. Long term, IMS Research believes that both LBS and Internet search will converge into a compelling service package"
IMS Research believes that it won't be long before leading handset manufacturers and Internet search giants look to combine these technologies. Nokia's has already developed a GPS-LBS platform with the new 6110 having both speech I/O and GPS capability. Both Google and Microsoft have spent a lot of time developing high-quality cellular mapping applications. Furthermore, Google research director, Peter Norvig, has indicated that Google is currently spending more on speech and translation than any other area.
What odds of Google launching a handset in the near future with GPS and speech I/O capability, two of the trends the Apple iPhone appears to have missed?
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