Use Speech to Shop

aisle411, a mobile retail navigation service that helps shoppers locate items, announced that Nuance Communications will provide the speech recognition on it’s mobile application for the iphone.

With speech, users can search for products and find where a product is located in a store and create shopping lists. Customers can also read reviews of a product by connecting with Amazon.com through the application and use voice to update Facebook or Twitter to ask their social network about a product.

aisle411 CEO Nathan Pettyjohn contends that Nuance’s speech recognition engine is very powerful, and that speech is an ideal interface for this particular application, especially because so many shoppers are multitasking. “[Typing] is not really the best use case for consumers," he says. "We started talking with customers, and they said we want to be able to search with voice, it helps me multitask, and makes it easier.”

Pettyjohn also adds that it was very important for aisle411 to partner with an innovative leader like Nuance. He attests that the system is powerful enough that if, for example, the app can’t locate a particular brand of beer, it will show the user where beer is in the store and what varieties there are.

“aisle411 will no doubt enhance the shopping experience for many mobile consumers, and by leveraging voice as part of the interface, they’ve created a fun, easy-to-use app that makes searching for products and information effortless from just about anywhere,” says Matt Revis, vice president of product management and marketing at Nuance.

While the results aren’t always 100 percent—Pettyjohn says the app is usually about 90 ppercent accurate—aisle411 will reward users who report inaccurate locations with a 411 agent badge, which can pay off in coupons or other incentives. Also, in regards to stock, the system isn’t currently in real-time, but Pettyjohn says  he’s discussing it with partners, and considering possible real-time results in the future.

The app is currently available for free on the iPhone, and will be available on BlackBerry and Android devices in 2011.

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