Consumer Electronics to Get a Natural Language Interface

Sensory, a provider of speech technologies for consumer products, today released the NLP-5x speech chip, ushering in a new era of natural language and hands-free interfaces.

The chip is designed for low-cost consumer electronic products, including clocks, ovens, kitchen electronics, light switches, remote controls, toys and robots, electronic dictionaries, personal electronics, automotive products (such as car kits, personal navigation devices, and stereos), and musical products.

Key to the NLP-5x is its ability to understand natural language within a constrained environment, and to “wake-up” from a hands-free voice trigger. 

As an example of what NLP-5x can do, Sensory says a person could set an oven’s temperature by voice. The person could say Bake at 375 for 1 hour or Bake for 1 hour at 375 degrees, giving him flexibility of order independence. The temperature could be said as three hundred seventy-five, three seventy-five or three hundred and seventy-five, with or without the word degrees, adding further flexibility and enabling a more natural usage. If the person says, Cook for 45 minutes, the form-filling feature of the NLP-5x would prompt the oven to query Bake, broil or convection heat? and At what temperature?

The truly hands-free phrase spotting allows products to be woken up and controlled by voice, so no button pressing is necessary. For example, drivers can now have full voice control over entertainment and comfort features in the vehicle without taking their hands off the steering wheels.

In addition to recognizing speech and sounds, the NLP-5x can also produce speech and sounds. It can record voice, play back canned and compressed voice prompts, or even create speech from scratch through text-to-speech technology. High-quality stereo music is also available with on-chip MIDI and MP3 music playback technologies.

Third-party developers will supply algorithms for touch, motion, and presence sensing. Other algorithms for speaker verification, speaker-dependent recognition, and speaker identification will also be available.

“Sensory’s New NLP-5x chip is the first low-cost speech chip to offer a natural language interface,” said Todd Mozer, CEO of Sensory. “The chip provides an easy-to-use, truly hands-free experience for consumers. Manufacturers of home appliances, toys, cars, and personal electronics want to make the user experience more friendly with a very flexible speech interface, and the NLP-5x is designed precisely for this purpose.”

In addition, Sensory sees the NLP-5x as enabling the emergence of a whole new class of home electronics called speech-controlled Internet devices, which access the Internet through a truly hands-free voice user interface (using a client/server speech recognition system), to deliver online data and information requests.

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