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September 23, 2015

'Getting' the Nuance of the Mobile Internet

I had the opportunity to speak with Kenn Harper, Senior Director of Product Management for Devices in Mobile at Nuance. We talked about how Nuance is enabling the developer community with Natural Language Speech Recognition. (Follow this LINK to see more.)

It has been my perspective that Siri and other interfaces should be augmented by apps having their own access to speech recognition, so I went to the source for speech recognition. In some ways I consider Nuance the Qualcomm of speech recognition; you might be able to find a way to not to use their technology, but you probably wouldn’t be as good.

Nuance sees speech recognition in three general categories. The need for dictation, the general need for natural language assistance and the need for specialized assistance and context.

Nuance over the years has been working on improving the “long tail of precision” for natural-language understanding and specifically gaining the benefit of the context.

While the ability to analyze words as a standalone exists, supporting the long tail adding context is usually associated with cloud services.

Nuance supports developers using C, Objective C and Java, as well as those using direct HTML Interfaces like Websockets. The SDK has program calls and the ability to set up phrases that trigger action. One point that was made about the connected home was that it was probably smart to use a “trigger word” to avoid speech recognition that was meant for the TV, when you wanted to control your music.

Much of the development currently is focused around Gaming, Home Controls, Robotics, Virtual Reality and Wearables.

While Android has been a large part of the community, the impact of IoT / Wearables is bringing Linux devices into the mix.

Many applications need the developer to “weight” sentence patterns, so that, for example, someone saying the “Temperature is High” suggests that the air conditioner be turned on, as opposed to a medical app that might interpret the “Temperature is High” as a sign of a fever.

Developers can build their application on a per-device, per transaction usage or on a tech-licensing basis.

Nuance participates in hackathons and other developer programs including SxSW for those interested in meeting with them face to face.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

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