Len Klie

Speech Has Gone Mainstream

This year’s annual gathering of all things technology–the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas, has now concluded. And while there were a lot of different technologies on display, the one thing that didn’t disappoint was speech.

Speech technologies were all over the show. Some of the biggest innovations were in applications of the technolgy in cars and smart home systems.

The car certainly makes a lot of sense as a use case–there’s hardly a better need for hands-free/eyes-free technology than behind the wheel of a 4,000-pound machine barreling down the road at 55 miles per hour.

That the home automation market is picking up as well comes as no surprise either. Who doesn’t want to live in a Star Trek-era home where we tell our rooms what we want and they comply. The technology is moving along faster than most people anticipated, and that is probably a good sign for where the industry is headed. As the business world moves away from speech technology for consumer interactions, speech vendors needed a new venue to sell their wares. Enter the fridge, toaster, thermostat, and garage door opener.

“The rate of innovation in the Internet of Things is creating a world where the everyday appliances we take for granted are becoming smarter and useful in ways we never imagined,” Mike Thompson, executive vice president and general manager of Nuance Mobile, said in a statement as his company launched a voice interface for Samsung refrigerators. “But as this intelligence evolves, it’s critical to have an interface that allows consumers to seamlessly tap into this intelligence, and that is where the human intuition of voice shines.”

Let’s hope that light doesn’t go out too quickly.