Can Apple re-invigorate speech industry?


We’ve all interacted with “them” before — speech-enabled machines to help us navigate IVR menus or take us to a customer service representative. You probably spoke to these machines ten years ago, saying the same words or phrases, to achieve the same results. And today you’re still repeating those words, doing the same things.

In other words, what has speech technology brought us?

Thanks to the miniaturization of processing components, speech recognition software now fits in the palm of your hand such as a mobile phone. Both Android and iOS platforms have some built-in speech capabilities, albeit not very refined. Then there are third-party applications such as Dragon Dictation (made by Nuance) and Siri (acquired by Apple) that complements the operating system’s speech capabilities.

There may be renewed interest in speech tech especially in the mobile consumer space. Recently Apple has been recruiting for speech application engineers, speech recognition engineers, and speech research scientists. And they want people who are already familiar with products like Nuance Recognizer, IBM WebSphere Voice, and Google Voice Search.

Apple is known to propel certain technologies into the mainstream. Maybe 2011 will be the year of speech tech, and one day a business will be able to run a speech IVR on the Android platform.

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