"Voice is quicker and smarter than your finger is," agrees Tom
Freeman, a cofounder of VoiceBox Technologies in Bellevue,
Washington. "Using keystrokes, you'll probably need at least eight
to download a new ringtone for your phone. Using our tools, just
say, 'Show me ringtones by Usher.'?" Freeman adds that, lately,
voice-rec tool providers have been upping the ante. "We don't want
the system ever to say, 'Sorry. I don't understand.' We are trying
to build in context awareness. The better we understand your
context, the more likely we are to understand what you want." He
provides this example: Say you call a help number and mumble into
your cell phone, "Blah-blah traffic." Are you asking about a 1970s
super band? Michael Douglas movies? Local road conditions? If you
were to call into a movie hotline, the system would have a head
start in giving you the right information. "We are getting smarter
about building a hypothesis about what the user wants to know.
That's as important in improving responses as are the gains in
understanding the spoken words," says Freeman.
Here's how smart voice rec has become. You are in a hopping, noisy
bar in Bangkok, and suddenly you're overcome with the urge to sing
"Jumpin' Jack Flash." Dial into Grammy Thailand, a Thai wireless
and entertainment provider, say the song title, and bam! - out
blasts a karaoke-perfect version of the Rolling Stones classic.
"Put your phone in speaker mode and sing right along," says Mike
Katz, director of product marketing at NMS Communications, a
Framingham, Massachusetts, developer of communications
Hold on, though, because you really haven't heard anything yet.