CallMiner Awarded Speech Recognition Patent

Context. It's the difference between "wok" and "walk," or "I hit the clubs last night," and "I got hit by a club last night." While a speech recognizer can translate sounds into words, it oftentimes cannot determine the context in which the word was used. Speech analytics vendor CallMiner yesterday announced it was granted a patent that would allow speech recognizer outputs to increase accuracy with a new algorithm.

"Standard speech recognition ouputs what you'd call a best guess," says Jeff Gallino, chief technology officer at CallMiner. "[The recognizer] basically pops out its best guess, and it does this by moving through a decision tree of various words (alternatives) by listening to sounds. Somewhere in the alternative is maybe the right answer, so the best guess might not necessarily be the only accurate guess. Part of the patent covers an algorithm that uses those alternatives to increase the accuracy that one of the alternatives is one of the right answers."

Though the company's primary focus is on boosting its reputation as a vendor of Large Vocabulary Conversational Speech Recognition-driven analytics systems, the current patent applies specifically to speech recognition. The move will help the company gain further grounds in the analytics space, however, as CallMiner continues efforts in improving recognition accuracy, and therefore providing customers with more valuable data. Of course, this patent was filed about five years ago, when CallMiner was not yet referring to itself as a speech analytics company.

"When we built this technology, we were still talking about it as improving very particular business value," Gallino says. "[Speech analytics] continues to generalize; I think we'll continue to push into more and more general markets, and further away from pure speech."

And CallMiner, which has stated it hopes to move into more vertical markets, could use the news of its new patent to give customers within specific industries more confidence in the analytics system's ability to create results applicable to its business. In addition, Gallino notes that the patent could help the company acquire new partners, and even sell some of its intellectual property.

"We can also then license [the technology] so others can use it, because it's a very general patent," Gallino explains. "It's also a nice sign post just to potential partners, strategic and tactical, about our maturity and understanding of the tech space. It's a sign that we're not just integrating off-the-shelf stuff; we're also building and creating."

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