Vlingo Named a 2008 FireStarter

A group of strategic innvestment members at the Strategic News Services (SNS) selected speech recognition company vlingo as one of 10 FiReStarter companies for 2008, an award given to companies whose technology will make a positive impact upon users' everyday lives.

vlingo was named to the list, which typically has included companies in areas like nanotechnology, space travel, biology, and medical diagnostics, for its potential impact within the speech-powered mobile search space. The recognition follows a month of other successes for the company from Cambridge, Mass.

Though vlingo CEO Dave Grannan still refers to his company as a "little start-up," the company announced this month that Yahoo! launched vlingo speech recognition as part of its OneSearch mobile Web browsing service. In addition, vlingo recently garnered $20 million in series B funding that was led by Yahoo. Running on IBM's speech recognition technology, Grannan explains that vlingo is the first and only unconstrained speech recognition technology for mobile phones.

In regard to the FiReStarter award, Grannan believes vlingo was chosen because of its ability to simplify and make more accessible the increasing need for solutions used within mobile Web search and other applications.

"Our big goal will be to voice-enable every mobile application in the world," Grannan states. "There are more phones in the world than there are PCs, and in emerging markets, people will have their first and maybe only Internet experience over the mobile phone."

Focusing on issues of discoverability (more easily accessing complex information on mobile phones using utterances), and usability (not requiring users to learn selected commands or specific grammars to perform searches or tasks), vlingo's Adaptive Hierarchical Language model makes it possible for users to perform tasks on an open interface that is unconstrained to particular applications. Looking ahead, Grannan says the company is working on development for both the iPhone SDK and Google's Android phone.

"We are developers both on the Android and iPhone platforms," Grannan says. "We haven't launched any products. We're pretty agnostic on that level; we want to work on all mobile devices, and we absolutely will be launching our products on iPhone and Android."

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