Eric B.

The Official Speech Tech Blog iPhone Feature Wishlist of Spring 2009

When I think of you iTouchscreen myself.Speech Heads, the world of smart phones is a hectic wild west of speech-enabled announcements and developments these days. We’ve got the new BlackBerry Storm that has some users chucking their iPhones like yesterday’s borscht, a new Treo coming out hoping to do the same to the Storm, and the iPhone looking to borschterize the whole lot of them with a software upgrade being unveiled, TODAY!

That’s right! The new iPhone OS 3.0 is being unveiled today! Engadget has coverage here!

Anticipated among the features is a heavy dose of new speech-enabled command-and-control features. The move would remedy what some have seen as wasted potential.

Speech-enabled dialing has ranked on nearly every top 10 list of sorely missed features for the iPhone. While there have been a spate of such dialers available for download on the AppStore, it seems rather silly for Apple not to have its own and cede an obvious feature to a third-party.

No word yet as to whether this will be included in the new version of the iPhone OS, but as Apple looks to release and include some speech, I thought I’d help them along by writing up a little list of my:

Top Three Missed Speech Features for iPhone.

1.) Speech-Enabled Conversation Agent

"Nobody by that name lives here, see?"I don’t know how many times you’ve gotten a phone call from someone you didn’t want to talk to, but had to. Probably every day, if you’re anything like me.

Perchance to dream no more!

With the iPhone’s Speech-Enabled Conversation Agent, all those calls can be handled by a real-time TTS agent. Conversation Agent’s recognition engine processes the voice on the other line and provides lifelike accurate responses. You can chose from a suite of 24 voice-fonts in 4 different languages.

For American English users, you can choose thickly southern regional Emmett, street-smart Sammy, fast-stuttering Stenny, Brooklyn-brogue Haroldine, and smoker’s-cough Walter.

Use it on bill collectors, relatives, for product briefings, on office conference calls, or on needy significant others who call incessantly to be told they are not an abject failure. The sky’s the limit!

Here’s a sample:

Bill Collector: May I please speak with Mr. Adam B?
Smoker’s-Cough Walt: Who’s askin’?
Bill Collector: My name is Bill Collector. I’m calling on behalf of the Collector Collection Agency.
Smoker’s Cough Walt: Ain’t you heard? He’s been dead for years…

2.) Speech-Enabled Free Phone Calls

Cell phone bills these days are outrageous, aren’t they? It’s like 400cc’s of human blood a minute to make a call during “peak hours.” This new iPhone feature, however, takes care of that with free telephone calls. Pay absolutely nothing. Local, long-distance, international. Free all the time, everywhere. Oh, also, it’s speech-enabled or something.

3.) Voice Search Room Searcher

It's a dog's world, baby.“A search engine for you keys.”

Tired of losing things all the time? Tired  of desperately scrambling through your hotel room, making sure you didn’t leave anything behind before your noon checkout? Tired of not knowing where grandpa hid the afikoman?

With Room Searcher, let the iPhone do the work. Simply say Seek X and the iPhone will find it. The recognizer engine will process your request and then use the onboard infrared, heat-sensitive, and x-ray capabilities to find whatever you were looking for in a given room.

For a fee, you may also upgrade to Voice Search BountyHunter, which extends Seek capabilities beyond just a given room to the entire Tri-State Area. BountyHunter also adds Seek&Destroy, a new capability that lets users track down any living quarry and remotely destroy it using the iPhone’s onboard HazardArray of projectile missiles.