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Monday, October 31, 2005

Another Motorola Handset Supporting Distributed Speech Recognition

Today Motorola announced the i870 handset - a slick iDEN clamshell with Bluetooth, MP3 playback, still/video camera and other goodies. Though not mentioned in the press release, the i870 SDK (available for download on motorola.com) documents its support for distributed speech recognition (DSR). Standardized by the ETSI Aurora working group, with RTP payloads defined by IETF RFCs, DSR brings noise robust, bandwidth friendly speech recognition via powerful network-based speaker-independent speech recognizers to mobile handsets.

The i870 is follows the i605 shipped earlier this year - the industry's first DSR-enabled mobile handset.

Read the press release.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Ebay's Whitman: "Free Phone Calls by 2010"

Meg Whitman during the recent Ebay quarterly conference call was under the gun of financial analysts for paying a bit too much for Skype. Defending the transaction, Whitman asserted that by utilizing VoIP and advertising subsidies, phone calls will gradually become free by 2010. Everybody understands what Ebay does, and everybody understands what Skype does, and both do their thing exceptionally well. The interesting question of course is, how might Ebay and Skype leverage each other's success to do something disruptive together? Use Skype to allow Ebay sellers/buyers to easily connect via VoIP calls? I hardly think so. The last thing a busy Ebay seller needs is his skype phone ringing off the hook: "is this thing new?" or "how come you didn't ship my stuff yet?". Seems at the moment Ebay and Skype are in two separate silos, both with regard to services provided, technologies used and underlying business models. It also seems any attempt to put them in one silo could very well involve a healthy dash of VoiceXML, or not? Thoughts?

Read the article.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Tellme Solicits VoiceXML Applications

Registered users of Tellme Studio received the following email from Tellme today:

Dear Studio Developer,

Now you can start making money from the voice applications
you create using Tellme Studio!

Starting today you can submit your voice application to Tellme. Selected applications will be deployed and publicized to the more than 55 million Skype users who can then pay to use the application.

Visit Tellme Studio now to build, test and debug your application. The first applications will be deployed soon, so start building!

-The Tellme Studio Team

55 million users makes for a decent sized market, to put it modestly. Certainly enough to provide incentive to cause folks to spend some serious cycles noodling with various VoiceXML app ideas. It will be really interesting to see what sorts of apps begin to emerge from this process.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Interesting VoxSurf/BBC 3G Video Messaging Trial

Voxsurf, previously known for its VoiceXML-based unified messaging applications is working with the BBC on an interesting video messaging application. The application allows users to send a video message to BBC Sports during football broadcasts with their feedback. The best videos are then re-broadcast and/or made available on the BBC website. This is an interesting example of using wireless technology to make broadcast content more interactive - something we'll likely see more as the wireless pipes get bigger and faster and the mobile clients more feature rich.

Read the article.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Bye Bye Scansoft!

Today, Scansoft has officially announced it is adopting its new moniker: Nuance. This sort of makes sense as "Nuance" is a bit more generic. The name Scansoft was no doubt formed from the company's earlier work in document scanning technology. Unfortunately the "experience speaks for itself" video on the new website required authentication when I tried it this morning! Hopefully this is not the sort of experience they are referring to in the new corporate tagline!!!

Read the Nuance Press Release.

Cool Speech Project Alert: Making Webcasts Available to the Deaf

IBM Research's CaptionMeNow project definitely falls into the "cool project" category. The idea is to automatically caption webcasts for people with hearing impairments by running the audio through a speech recognizer. Well, its almost automatic. They still have a human in the loop to make minor adjustments to the transcription produced by the speech recognizer.

We've reported on a similar approach in the past where speech technology is used to index video content, based on the audio. The CaptionMeNow article also suggests this technology could spill over into mainstream usage, as some people can more efficiently read and retain information in text vs. audible speech.

The author also claims TTS technology emerged from efforts to make written text more accessible to the visually. While I know TTS is commonly used by the blind, I didn't realize that it was the primary motivation behind early research in this area. In any case, I vividly remember my first encounter with a speech synthesizer as a teenager. My entire family assembled spellbound around my trust Commodore-64 when I first loaded up "Sam the talking computer" on the world's slowest disc drive (remember the Commodore 1541 floppy drive?). It was simply astonishing to realize the computer could intellibly say anything we typed in. Now everybody takes this stuff for granted.

Read the article about CaptionMeNow.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Ex-Nuance speech technologists can work at Yahoo

A California court declines a temporary restraining order requested in a lawsuit filed by Nuance to bar a dozen Yahoo engineers from working on interactive speech technology that Nuance says it owns. Read more.