Software

Speech recognition on the rise


According to research in Australia, far more people would rather use a speech recognition call center as opposed to centers manned by people with a different accent than a native Australian. Labor is one of the biggest costs in manning a call center, particularly one that operates 24/7; it's a problem that can be addressed with some of the new voice recognition programs on the market.

Although they are expensive, it is easy to calculate the point at which the costs of a live call center overtake the costs of implementing voice recognition. As the prices keep dropping, many companies may take on these types of systems rather than outsourcing their call center operations offshore. There are still plenty of people who would rather talk to a person than a computer, but as speech recognition improves, these people may change their tunes as well.

Call centers put accent on speech recognition (CNET)

Speech recognition is also showing up in many other places. A startup company called Vlingo has released a beta of its software, which allows users to use any words they want (rather than a predefined set of keywords) in order to use their phones to search the Web. VoiceSignal, another company specializing in speech recognition, has announced that it is very close to releasing software that would allow iPhone users to talk to their new gadget. IBM has also teamed with an Indian software company to release technology that recognizes Hindi.

IBM's Desktop Hindi Speech Recognition technology understands and transcribes human speech with little use of keyboards, thereby helping people unfamiliar with computers or the Hindi language. Also as there are various keyboards in use for Indian languages, speech recognition eliminates the need to learn mapping of different keyboards.

Startup Rolls out Speech Recognition Beta for Mobile Phones (PC World)

iPhone Speech Recognition Demo from VoiceSignal (Gizmodo)

IBM, C-DAC Partner to Promote Hindi (Techtree)

All of this leads to the conclusion that speech recognition -- a technology that has been on the verge of a major breakthrough for years -- may finally be coming out of the shadows. My new tablet shipped with Vista, which has some very nice voice recognition features. I am not ready to say that I could transcribe an entire document with speech recognition, but with the right equipment, I could easily compose a first draft without the use of a keyboard.

What applications would you like to see speech enabled? Will speech recognition make you more or less efficient? Are you likely to use some of the new voice tools that are available, or do you prefer being a "keyboard warrior?"

5 comments
Hot Face
Hot Face

Speech Recognition has been around since the late seventies, where speech recognition hardware/software could only handle a 1000 word vocabulary. It was useful at that time to handle jobs where both hands were in use manipulating a piece of equipment and the operator would need to state commands such as start, stop, mark, compute, etc. Obviously, the operator needed to speak a set of words several times so the Speech Recognition software would understand his/her speech pattern. For security purposes, to inhibit others from playing with the equipment, the gain would be set high to where only the designated operator's words would be recognized by the system. Speech recognition has come a long way, but still can't beat, in performance, the quick stab of a key on a key board. Speech recognition can be frustrating, at times, especially when you are using your telephone through a blue tooth connection and the telephone does not recognize your command to dial a contact. Maybe I need to stop chewing gum:)

Andy Moon
Andy Moon

Speech recognition seems to have been on the verge of exploding for ten years, since Dragon put out their "Naturally Speaking" product. Do you use speech recognition? What have been your experiences and do you see this taking over the keyboard's place as the primary input device?

djl4fzw
djl4fzw

I have a set of headphones and some CDs handy, to drown out the din that already exists in the office. Keyboards are quieter.

pr.arun
pr.arun

Speech recognition has greatly advanced in terms of the System understanding and deciphering spoken words. But for a real utility, speech has to become an input mechanism better than typing. This typically calls for the system having a "secretary" like role where you can dictate the words to the system and without affecting the natural flow of words the system should be able to edit the documents as well. That's why the term of a 'personal secretary'. Can the speech recognition enabled system provide such svelte functionality?

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

As you say it's been promised for at least a decade, still isn't here. As for it replacing the keyboard, not for a programmer it isn't Transcript from Test Public void print monthly invoices open parentheses string my invoice number comma ....

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