Voice CommandsBy Reuters - | Posted 2008-04-02 Print
Yahoo aims to make millions of Web links more accessible on phones, by tapping deeper into the sites and by enabling consumers to use voice commands to search the Web.
Yahoo also will let oneSearch consumers use voice commands for search services that go beyond existing mobile voice recognition systems or 411-based services that are structured into simple categories, such as "local listings."
Conventional speech recognition services limit potential search topics to certain items using very basic vocabulary. OneSearch allows "wide open" searches for flight listings, locations, Web site names, restaurants, news or game times.
Yahoo voice search allows users to switch between typing and voice search at any time, and offers alternative suggestions for similar sounding words, Boerries said.
Voice searches can take as little as five seconds: one to two seconds to recognize the search and two to three seconds to return search results to the phone. Slower networks may take 10 to 20 seconds to return most search results, he said.
Starting on Wednesday, Blackberry users can download voice-enabled oneSearch at m.yahoo.com/voice/. By the end of the year, Yahoo plans to introduce the service on 500 different devices and in international markets, he said.
Yahoo is relying on voice technology it has exclusively licensed from Vlingo Corp, a two-year-old Cambridge, Massachusetts-based start-up. Yahoo also is leading a $20 million funding round in Vlingo with existing investors Charles River Ventures and Sigma Partners.
"We've got exclusive rights in a company that we believe will change voice search forever," Boerries told Reuters.
Another set of features helps speed how fast mobile phone users make searches, using tricks like predictive text, which anticipates what words users are typing in a search query.
Depending on prior searches, the service also recommends more refined results so, for example, typing in Starbucks may recommend links to a nearby location, Starbucks' stock price or the company's Web site.
(Editing by Brian Moss)
© Reuters 2008 All rights reserved
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