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Voice-Based Text Messaging Rides the Wave

Through a licensing agreement announced today, TravellingWave will bundle its VoicePredict speech-to-text mobile input technology with Zi’s eZiText and eZiType text prediction products to give mobile phone users a fast, easy, and accurate text input method for mobile devices.

Using the embedded VoicePredict solution, a user who wants to enter a word into a text message can say the word into the phone's microphone and start typing it, either through a keypad or touchscreen. Once the word is recognized, a drop-down menu of word choices appears, allowing the user to enter the word into the message without having to type in the entire word. "You say the word ‘yesterday,’ and start typing—first the y, then the e—and hopefully yesterday is one of the choices that drops down," explains Greg Aranov, vice president of product development at Seattle-based TravellingWave. "I am confident that with two letters, [the software] will get the word right."

Users can turn-off the speech recognition function when in situations where voice input may not be possible (as in noisy environments), or appropriate (as in a meeting). "It’s truly multimodal," Aranov says. "It’s a very useful way of inputting text into an SMS because you are not constrained by one method. You can speak, type, or speak and type together."

VoicePredict currently contains a vocabulary of about 30,000 words, and gets more accurate over time as it learns new words and phrases and adjusts to speakers, according to Aranov, who notes that the software is speaker-independent.

The VoicePredict software currently only supports English. It also only works on mobile devices that support the Windows Mobile platform, but TravellingWave’s plans include "support for all the phones out there, like iPhones, BlackBerrys, and Androids," Aranov says.

The integration deal with Zi should help in that regard. Zi’s predictive text products already reside on two leading mobile handsets and can be installed on 10 percent of all mobile phones worldwide.

"The combination of Zi’s eZiText and eZiType text-prediction and TravellingWave’s predictive speech-to-text technology will enable VoicePredict to deliver greater value for texting and also open up new avenues for our customers with respect to mobile messaging, search, discovery, and mobile advertisement," Ashwin Rao, founder and CEO of TravellingWave, said in a statement.

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