In a recent press release, Mike Thompson, Nuance Mobile’s senior vice president said that “virtually every mobile and consumer electronics company on the planet is looking for ways to integrate natural conversational voice interactions into their mobile products, applications, and services,” and said the acquisition of Vlingo would help the company ‘accelerate the pace of innovation to meet this demand.”
The company announced plans to acquire Vlingo in order to deliver a new generation of voice based natural language interfaces for a variety of consumer and professional markets. Nuance continues to see this as being a $5 billion opportunity. The company hasn’t specified the terms of acquisition though as of yet.
Vlingo, is a closely held company backed by Charles River Ventures, Sigma Partners, Yahoo, and AT&T, with headquarters based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In addition to voice to text capabilities, Vlingo maintains an “Intent Engine” to parse what a user says and determine the desired actions, which is more compatible to Apple’s Siri technology rather than the raw speech recognition tools offered by Apple competitors (Google, Microsoft, and Nuance itself.)
Thompson mentioned that the industry has been inspired mainly by the introduction of services such as Apple’s Siri (which utilizes Nuance voice recognition technology) and his own company’s Dragon Go mobile app that delivers voice based search. Apple was said to be working closely with Nuance to license its technology for continued use in Siri, which it acquired the previous year. It was also rumored that Microsoft “had been pushing Apple hard” to use its own Bing voice recognition technology within iOS 5.
In the end, it is quite obvious that Apple delivered Siri using Nuance technology in its back end, causing lead developers from both Microsoft and Google to describe Siri as being nothing new
and not in the right direction for mobile devices. At the same time, consumers beg to differ with the iPhone 4S sales proving otherwise.
How do you feel about Siri on your iPhone 4S? Do you use it often? Would you like to see Siri-like experiences offered in more products? Share any thoughts and opinions below!