Mobile Monday Shanghai on September 19th will host speakers from Nuance Communications, the speech recognition technology behind Siri (purchased by Apple in April 2010 to power iOS 5’s personal assistant interface), and Vocre, one of the startups that launched at the recent TechCrunch DISRUPT San Francisco 2011.
MoMo Shanghai: Mobile Speech Recognition – Giving Mobile Apps a Unique Edge
One of the huge issues for expats living in China (and anywhere else in the world for that matter) is language, though at least for English speakers based in Europe, many words are similar enough that some form of vocal communication can take place. In China however, a completely green foreigner will need to brush up on their Charades skills.
My colleague Calvin Smith showed me a really cool iPhone app that just launched at TechCrunch DISRUPT San Francisco 2011 called Vocre (note to Calvin, it’s pronounced ‘voh-krey‘, and not ‘voh-ker‘). In a nutshell, Vocre basically lets users converse instantly (dependent on your mobile data plan speed) in a foreign language. Users can speak into the app while their iPhone is vertical, and flip the phone horizontal, and the phone’s accelerometer cues the app to translate and speak what was said into the language of the person they’re speaking with, they then can respond, rinse, repeat.
Almost indicative of the next buzz-phrase to be the talk among mobile developers, the next Mobile Monday Shanghai on September 19th will be focusing exactly on the topic of Mobile Speech Recognition as the next technology that developers need to be aware of in giving their apps the next edge in the market. Speakers will be from Nuance Communications, coincidentally the company providing the speech recognition technology that makes Vocre’s service interactive.
Speakers from Nuance will include:
Daniel Cheng – GM of Greater China region
Zhang Ya-Xin – Director of Speech Research Engineering
James Young – Senior Manager – Product marketing
Move over LBS, the next buzz-phrase is ‘speech recognition’
Although speech and voice recognition technology has been around for half a century, it’s still far from mainstream since the technology has to recognize words, process accents, sentence structure, grammar, language, noise and other factors that help a machine distinguish “see” from “sea”.
Speech most likely won’t ever replace touchscreens or keyboards, but does open up a completely new means of accessing and inputting data conveniently, while on the go (for example while driving). Google has been doing a lot in this space with Google Voice Actions, which was launched in August last year, which uses their own speech recognition technology. Apple also made big moves in the speech input space in 2010 with a purchase of the personal assistant application called Siri (estimated for $200 million), which will be integrated into iOS 5. Siri, however, relies on Nuance technology for its services.
As mobile devices and services continue to become more integrated into people’s lives, user’s need for data, and the ability to interact with it quickly, will be central in determining the popularity of different platforms. LBS was a passing fad that added some fun (gimmicky?) features to games and apps, but we’re only scraping the surface of the different ways that speech recognition can allow us to interact with our devices.
(Now when can we expect ‘cognitive recognition’ and data input with our thoughts?)