Google voice search marks new era of speech analytics

Google sees voice-activated search as key to its mobile business and has just introduced a UK version for the Blackberry. Voice search offers an easier...

Google sees voice-activated search as key to its mobile business and has just introduced a UK version for the Blackberry.

Voice search offers an easier alternative to typing search terms using fiddly keyboards on mobile devices, but is it good enough for business?

Google claims to have made quantum leaps since initial trials six years ago and says it is ready to deal with UK accents.

Technological advances

The firm has been able to exploit rapid developments in speech technology.

Analytical models have now reached a level of refinement that makes them practical for business use, says Peter Rogers, chief executive of speech analytics firm Aurix.

In the past two to four years, continual refinements of the mathematical models have produced a level of accuracy in speech recognition that borders on artificial intelligence.

Google claims to have increased accuracy by 15% since it launched voice search on the iPhone in the US last November as more data is collected.

"At the same time, improvements in microprocessor technology mean that mobile devices now have the speed and power necessary to run these models," says Rogers.

The power of speech

Google's Mobile App, available for free download, enables UK Blackberry users to go to the search firm's mobile search site and speak the search terms.

Mobile App with voice search is available on all versions of Blackberry, except Blackberry Storm, as long as they run OS 4.2 or above, says Google.

Users simply have to say "lester square" to bring up information on "Leicester Square" without knowing the correct spelling, says Google App engineer Luca Zanolin in a blog post.

"Keystrokes have been reduced to a single press of the green button [on the phone]," he says.

Greater independence from keyboards represents a step-change in applications such as Google search, says Rogers.

Similarly, these advances have enabled the automation of processes involving speech, such as call centre monitoring.

"Call centres can now use speech analytics to monitor for the absence or presence of compulsory phrases to comply with industry regulations," says Rogers.

Businesses are beginning to tap in to the cost benefits of automating these processes as the technology matures and explore the benefits of mining voice data for business intelligence purposes.

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