Monday, 13 October 2008

Voice recognition and the promise of "connecting people"

Came across this note today on IBM's Speech Recognition technology initiatives (ambitions). The piece was written by Steve Hamm. Hamm is a senior writer for BusinessWeek in New York and author of the Globespotting blog.

It talks of research being done by IBM and some other companies in voice recognition technologies.

I have no comments on the article itself. Its factual.

I do believe that voice recognition and translation will become a key “killer” functionality of mobile phones as (and when) this technology develops. What I don’t undersatnd is why mobile phone companies like Nokia/ Samsung/ Motorola are not more involved in this- to make the “when” happen faster.

Instead, each company is looking to build the better mousetrap. Adding higher resolution cameras/ mp3 players or touch screens does not fundamentally enhance the benefit of a mobile phone- that of connecting people.

The integration of GPS is indeed enhancing connectivity. But GPS was not developed by the mobile phone companies. They were built independently. Till they caught on and the mobile phone companies (led by Nokia) have sought to integrate them into phones. Why this reactivity?

I have written, in our blog on “connectivity and empowerment”, the two key trends of our times. Products that are enhancing simultaneously our sense of empowerment (expression of choice) and connectivity to our environment, are ruling.

GPS systems enhance the connectivity with our environment, which is provided by a mobile phone. The reason mobile phones have caught on in the first place, is their ability to keep us connected (till we choose to switch it off and become disconnected – the concept of empowerment) all the time.

As technologies advance, the phone will definitely become the credit-card/ mp3 player/ camera/ writing pad/ canvass all in one and at reasonable price points. But i believe we will still be making better mousetraps.

A voice recognition function goes further. The technology in-itself leads to a real time translation system.

Imagine being able to converse with cultures that are “alien” today because we don’t understand the language. How much more connected will we be?

Why then don’t mobile companies invest in this? Why is development left to the IBMs of the world?

What’s Nokia doing to continue its promise of connecting people?


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