Fonix Expands Speech to More Game Platforms

Thanks to Fonix Speech—a company specializing in embedded speech interfaces for mobile devices, handheld electronics, video game systems and processors—video game players will be able to command armies, kill zombies, and save the world with greater accuracy solely through the use of voice commands.

The company yesterday announced the availability of Fonix VoiceIn Game Edition 5.1 SDK. Fonix VoiceIn is available for Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony PS3, Apple iPhone, Windows PC, and Nintendo Wii and provides for voice-controlled gaming similar to that used in the Ubisoft game End War.

"Basically, what we’ve done is, in this release, brought all the pieces together for the technology enhancements that we did that enabled Ubisoft to make such a strong game that’s voice-driven and made it so robust,” says Lynn Shepherd, senior vice president of product development at Fonix Speech. “We worked closely with Ubisoft through their development on a joint effort…All of the technology improvements that were required for End War is now available to the general market.”

According to Shepherd, SKD 5.1 will benefit both game makers and game players. “Typically the really robust speech systems that are available generally in the market…are fairly large systems that run on servers,” he says. “And what we’ve done is taken our embedded engine and enhanced that technology to allow game makers to have super recognition and run a pretty high-end speech recognizer on the limited memory constraints [of gaming systems].”

Adds Shepherd: “Using speech becomes a much greater immersive way to play a game because you’re actually communicating with the game…just as you communicate with people. It’s really immerses the game player and adds to the [reality] of the experience.”

The new SDK provides numerous technological upgrades that improve speech recognition accuracy. Among them are:

  • A feature that allows developers to use additional speech information to develop more robust algorithms for processing recognition results with improved accuracy.
  • An improved adaptation tool that enables game developers to build a more accurate recognition system that works well with different accents and/or dialects and for speakers from different regions.
  • An updated PS3 library to be compatible with all current PS3 versions.
  • An updated Xbox library that is now compatible with all current Xbox 360 versions.

According to Shepherd, many game makers were monitoring the reaction to End War and basing decisions about new games on its performance.

“As End War has come out, the interest in using speech in games has just skyrocketed,” he says. “We’re starting to see increased interest and activity based on that.”

The 5.1 SDK can be purchased from Fonix for a license fee and a per-game unit royalty fee. Game developers can license the product for multiple platforms and languages, including U.S. and U.K. English, Castilian and Latin American Spanish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, and Polish. Additional languages are available upon request.

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